Review: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Harumi Murakami

Murakami on Running:

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Murakami writes “running suits [him].” I like to think it suits me too. I know myself as an inward person, and running allows me to indulge this. He writes that “[he] runs to acquire a void.” I repeatedly have to tell myself to stop thinking. Running lets me think about everything and nothing at once.

Murakami writes “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” As a beginner, I spend a lot of time in pain. My legs, I imagine, are still getting used to all the physical labor. At any time during my runs, my calves, thighs, feet or entire legs act out. They scream bloody murder. There are many occasions where, as Troy on Community puts it, my “whole brain is crying.”

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(Photo source)

Murakami writes “Patience is a must in this process, but I guarantee the results will come.” Three months ago, doing some research, I’d come across a blog on the benefits of running. The writer said that people who take up running start preferring healthy sources of fuel over the usual heavy fare. The diet eventually falls into place without too much bloodshed. Six months ago, you’d have found me topping off a bag of pork rinds by myself, but now, I find it easier to stay away from junk food.

Murakami’s reflections in the book come nearly 25 years after he first started running. The man has run at least one marathon a year since. But for me, in this fledgling stage, nursing a small ember that could go out any minute, I can’t even conceive successfully running a 5K. When he writes that he probably knows pain better than anyone else, I believe him. What I feel on my runs is child’s play. Running is ingrained in his life, whereas I’m still discovering what it means. It is a great divide, to be sure, but I feel like his words belong to me.

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I’ve only known Murakami through his strange/ beautiful novels, but it is with this book that I feel closest to him as a writer. His thoughts on writing novels being a physical act (“…a writer puts on an outfit called narrative and thinks with his entire being; and for the novelist that process requires putting into play all your physical reserve, often to the point of overexertion”) remind me of long days finishing papers for graduate school and offer a glimpse of the months I will be drafting my thesis. When I read about his epiphany to become a novelist professionally, I became mindful of the decisions I must eventually make about my own pursuits.

This was a post by Kubi whose legs don’t hurt at the moment.
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Review: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Harumi Murakami

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