What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Haruki Murakami
Reading Order: Book 10
Categories: 2018, Erik Rostad
Memoir, Non-Fiction
Pages: 180
Suggested By: Mark Bittman
Date Started: March 23, 2018
Date Finished: March 25, 2018
Reason Book was Chosen: I love running and I wanted to include a set of books in this year's reading list about running. This is one of those books. I've heard of Murakami as an author and this is his story of running the NYC marathon.
My Thoughts

“Most of what I know about writing I’ve learned through running every day.”

This quote largely encapsulates the essence of What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. Haruki Murakami started writing and running around the same time. The two things have gone hand-in-hand in his life and are deeply interconnected.

I’m a runner and this is one of four running-related books I have on my reading list for 2018. I love running and it’s a source of great joy and balance in my life.

I love this memoir. I identify very closely to Murakami’s descriptions of running and the broader implications for life. He speaks about the individual challenges of running to achieve goals:

“I’m much more interested in whether I reach the goals that I set for myself, so in this sense long-distance running is the perfect fit for a mindset like mine.”

“In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.”

He also talks about never quitting. For example, quitting to him is walking during a race. Even if he has to go super slow, he will continue running. Letting himself walk will lead to further compromises – “Break one of my rules once and I’m bound to break many more.

Murakami covers his philosophy of running, part of his life story, and writing philosophy. The major push of the book is his preparation for running the New York City Marathon 2005. He also discusses running too much in an ultra marathon race and the later ramifications of temporarily impacting his love of running. And he gets into mental toughness, especially in his foray into triathlons.

This is the first book I have read by Murakami. It piqued my interest and I’d like to read some of his fiction and other of his non-fiction. It was a very approachable book, short, and fun. If you like running, you’ll like this book. If you like creative endeavors like writing, you’ll like this book. If you’re a writer who runs, then by God, you’ve been given an unbelievable gift in this book.

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