What I Talk About When I Run

I am a middle distance runner. I normally run anywhere from 5 to 10 kilometers at a time. I keep a pretty fast pace and have a long stride. As such, I can run a kilometer in about four minutes and a mile in about six. I can maintain that pace for about forty minutes.

I have thought about running a marathon before but it always seemed a little bit insane to me. 26.2 miles or 42.195 kilometers would take a really long time to run. It wouldn’t be able to keep up my usual pace., I imagine that if I trained hard for it, I could probably keep a 6 minutes pace per kilometer and that would take me over four hours to run.

That seems nuts to me. I have respect for long distance runners and it was interesting to read this book. For me, running is usually fun. There are days when it is tough but typically I enjoy myself.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a memoir by Haruki Murakami. I have to admit that I didn’t actually read this book. I listened to the unabridged audio recording instead. I love audio books. The only problem is that if a passage of the book really speaks to me as I am driving, I can’t just stop to take a note. I can’t bookmark a passage for later. I just need to keep driving.

In this book, Haruki Murakami relates what it is like to run a marathon. If I knew where this specific passage was in the audio book, I would transcribe it here for you. But since I don’t, I’ll just share what I remember of it. There is a point about three quarters of the way through a marathon where a runner can start to hate everything. Haruki uses language in a brilliant way to really describe his thinking process during the tough part of the run.

“Of course it was painful, and there were times when, emotionally, I just wanted to chuck it all. But pain seems to be a precondition for this kind of sport. If pain weren’t involved, who in the world would ever go to the trouble of taking part in sports like the triathlon or the marathon, which demand such an investment of time and energy? It’s precisely because of the pain, precisely because we want to overcome that pain, that we can get the feeling, through this process, of really being alive–or at least a partial sense of it. Your quality of experience is based not on standards such as time or ranking, but on finally awakening to an awareness of the fluidity within action itself.”

I can’t imagine putting myself through that much pain. It was really interesting to experience a marathon form the author’s point of view. Perhaps one day I will run one. I just don’t have any desire to do so right now. I think I’ll stick to my middle distances.

Here is one of my favourite quotes from the book,

“I’ve always done whatever I felt like doing in life. People may try to stop me, and convince me I’m wrong, but I won’t change.”

I feel exactly the same way.

I will keep putting on the miles and keep reading.

Here’s a list of what I’ve read so far this year.