What I Talk about When I Talk about Running

3 min read

"What I talk about when I talk about running" is a memoir of Haruki Murakami.

The main topic of the book is obviously running, but he casually talks about everything that came before, the reason why he started running, why keep running, and the challenges, learnings, and failures he had in the past.

He almost uses running as a metaphor to tell us how you should handle life, at least how he dealt with it.

The main reason why he started running is the fact that he changed jobs, from Jazz bar owner to writer of novels. And because of that, he started to gain weight and his health was even worse because of his smoking habits.

He suddenly decided to stop smoking and decided to run every single day. He started his morning working, and writing, and stopped to run 10km before going back to write his novels again.

The way he sees life and challenges is inspiring to me.

”I just realized that since failure was out of the question, I needed to give it my all. I had to do my best. If I failed, I could accept. But I knew that if I did things only half-heartedly and they didn't come to fruition, I would feel remorse forever.”

He always talks about doing his best. Doing less than 100% is out of the question. Doing his best means not having remorse in the future. Failure is acceptable and part of life. Remorse is something you have to deal with as you know, you could give all you had, but you didn't.

Talking about failure, there's a small part he wrote about having arrogant behavior. He thought he could run a marathon without any problem, without training.

After failing this marathon, he was obsessed with why he failed.

“When I was running that race, I felt like I never wanted to go through that again. Freeze to death and feel like crap? No thank you.”

The reason for failure? Lack of training. Lack of training. Lack of training.

Not only in this part, part the whole book is full of thoughts on how he was obsessed with perfection and always trying to understand where he could be better at. Always trying to understand why he failed and what needs to be improved.

He talks about the most important skills of a novelist: Talent, focus, and perseverance, and how these skills are intertwined with running. Talent is something you are born with, but focus and perseverance you learn along the way. He uses running as one of the factors that helps him to be a better writer.

Thought the book, while talking about running, I like how he describes the places he's running, the people he passes, and the feelings he had.

"New York in November really has a special charm. The air is clean and fresh, and the leaves on the trees in Central Park are just starting to take on their golden hues. The sky is so clear you can see infinity, and the skyscrapers Heavens deeply reflect the rays of the sun”

Also with these feelings, he had thoughts, as all runners have, I guess. Like how it's a mental game, how the thoughts of failing, giving up, and self-sabotage are always there. It's like a game of the runner's mind fighting and trying to manage all these thoughts and trying to focus only on the “now”, one step at a time.

The fact that he ran a 100km ultramarathon in his 50s is quite an achievement. But what impressed me most about him is his determination to always be running, training, and being extremely consistent for over 2 decades.


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