Monday, March 14, 2011

Talking about talking about running

I haven't posted here about sports books for ages, mainly because I've been swamped with other things and just didn't have time for fun reading. (Big aww from everyone please!) But at the weekend I found "What I talk about when I talk about running" by Japanese author Haruki Murakami hidden at the back of a shelf. I love this book, it's uplifting, inspiring and all-round the best mediation on why we run I've ever read. So instead of wittering on with the adjectives:

As long as I can run a certain distance, that’s all I care about. Sometimes I run fast when I feel like it, but if I increase the pace, I shorten the time I run, the point being to let the exhilaration I feel at the end of each run carry over to the next day. This is the same kind of tack I find necessary when writing a novel.


I love the way he links in writing and running all the way through the book - I couldn't express it as well of course but it's how I feel too.

For me running is both exercise and a metaphor. Running day after day, piling up the races, bit by bit I raise the bar, and by clearing each level I elevate myself. At least that’s why I put in the effort day after day; to raise my own level. I’m no great runner by any means … but that’s not the point. The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday.


Right, obviously journalism or novel-writing in Murakami's case is competitive against other people in one sense but for me the person with the record to beat is sitting right here at this computer!

Once I interviewed the Olympic runner Toshihiko Seko, just after he retired from running…I asked him, “Does a runner at your level ever feel like you’d rather not run today, like you don’t want to run and would rather just sleep in?” He stared at me, and then in a voice that made it abundantly clear how stupid he thought the question was, replied, “Of course! All the time.”


And that is what I'm going to remember when I'm beating myself up (mentally that is) for not being 100% fit yet. How do you link in sport with the rest of your life?

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