What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

Rating: 4/5
Genre: Memoir
Publication Date: October 15th, 2007
Length: 188 pages
Format: Audiobook
Description from Goodreads:

In 1982, having sold his jazz bar to devote himself to writing, Murakami began running to keep fit. A year later, he’d completed a solo course from Athens to Marathon, and now, after dozens of such races, not to mention triathlons and a dozen critically acclaimed books, he reflects upon the influence the sport has had on his life and–even more important–on his writing.

Equal parts training log, travelogue, and reminiscence, this revealing memoir covers his four-month preparation for the 2005 New York City Marathon and takes us to places ranging from Tokyo’s Jingu Gaien gardens, where he once shared the course with an Olympian, to the Charles River in Boston among young women who outpace him.

Through this marvelous lens of sport emerges a panorama of memories and insights: the eureka moment when he decided to become a writer, his greatest triumphs and disappointments, his passion for vintage LPs, and the experience, after fifty, of seeing his race times improve and then fall back. By turns funny and sobering, playful and philosophical, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is rich and revelatory, both for fans of this masterful yet guardedly private writer and for the exploding population of athletes who find similar satisfaction in distance running.

This was a short read where Haruki Murakami describes some of his thoughts on running.

I’m a big fan of Murakami’s writing so when I found out he was also a runner I got pretty excited.

In this memoir, he details how he became interested in running and how it shaped him, both as a person and as a novelist.

He talks quite a bit about his writing process and how he became an author. He compares the process of training your body to run to the process of training your brain to be a good writer. He claims that most of what he knows about writing, he learned by running everyday.

“How much can I push myself? How much rest is appropriate, and how much is too much? How far can I take something and still keep it decent and consistent? When does it become narrow-minded and inflexible? How much should I be aware of the world outside? And how much should I should I focus on my inner world? To what extent should I be confident in my abilities and when should I start doubting myself? I know that if I hadn’t become a long-distance runner when I became a novelist, my work would have been vastly different.”

I loved a lot of the stories he told about running, especially running the original marathon course from Athens to Marathon. He captured a lot of my feeling on running and how it makes me feel.

My only beef is that at one point he talks about running a marathon and needing to walk a few miles, leading him to conclude that it didn’t count as running a marathon.

Hello, runners that walk are totally runners. I’ve run two half marathons, the first of which I walked because I had to (I was under trained and kind of injured). By the time I ran my second half marathon, I had adopted the Galloway method of doing run/walk intervals, which allowed me to shave nearly 50 minutes off my finish time. 50! Minutes!

All of this is to say incorporating walking into running does not make one any less of a runner. I’m gonna proudly brag to anyone who will listen that I ran a half marathon, and just because I walked parts of it does not make that statement untrue.

Anyway, that minor annoyance aside, I loved his thoughts on running and think this is a good read for any runner, Murakami fan, or just someone really into memoirs.

“All I do is keep on running in my own cozy, homemade void, my own nostalgic silence. And this is a pretty wonderful thing. No matter what anybody else says.” 

2 thoughts on “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

  1. Richa Singh says:

    This is one of the books I have read where the author lets you delve into his personality – the origin of his thoughts. And even if you have been a casual runner you will love the writing leaving you inspired enough for the lifetime to keep running – literally and for your dreams.

    Liked by 1 person

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