What I Talk about when I talk about running: A Memoir

Written By Adam Drake

5 min read

Haruki Murakami - What I Talk about when I talk about running: A Memoir

This is a book about running and writing. Haruki Murakami is an author who is deeply dedicated to his craft and through this devotion he is able to gain a wonderful insight into the connection between running and writing.

In a nutshell description

He wrote this book over a period when he was training for the New York Marathon and it ends up being a memoir of his life and the role running has played in it. He recalls specific moments during his life with running being a major theme throughout. He didn’t start running until in his thirties and started mainly due to practical reasons - he was a writer and spent a good portion of his time sitting so wanted to do something so he wouldn’t gain weight and become unhealthy. He chose running.

He then dips selectively into his past and recollects various episodes such as when he ran from Athens to Marathon (the original marathon route except backwards!!), the time he ran his first ultramarathon - 100km around Lake Saroma in Hokkaido, Japan and his life before he became an author and how that transition came about.

This book would probably be classified as a biography or memoir and Haruki does a fantastic job of interweaving the story of his life through the lens of his dedication to running.

Why I love this book

Haruki is an amazing story teller and that can be seen in his wealth of fictional work. A writer does not become as popular as Haruki has without possessing an intinctive talent for telling stories. In this book there is a fascinating story with the added benefit of seeing a little behind the curtain of the man himself. I am a big Haruki Murakami fan already so the chance to find out a bit more about the man himself really had me intrigued.

I am also into running (although my dedication is not on a par with Harukis) so this was a further reason why this book called out to me. I listened to this book and it was one of those books that was always calling me back. Haruki’s way of depicting a scene captivates my imagination and I am always yearning for more.

Quotes to make you think

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”

“So the fact that I’m me and no one else is one of my greatest assets. Emotional hurt is the price a person has to pay in order to be independent.”

“I’m the kind of person who likes to be by himself. To put a finer point on it, I’m the type of person who doesn’t find it painful to be alone. I find spending an hour or two every day running alone, not speaking to anyone, as well as four or five hours alone at my desk.”

“People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they’ll go to any length to live longer. But I don’t think that’s the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest.”

Read this book if…

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding how to work on and build their craft. Obviously Haruki’s way isn’t the only way but it is an intriguing journey that he took and there are many lessons one can learn from reading this book.

Dedication and hard work are vital to any pursuit of mastery in one’s craft. Haruki’s offers us a glimpse into the reality of his world and how he goes about his craft and the parallels that this has with running. He learns about running through his writing and he learns about writing through his running.

Some good further reading/watching/listening

Great short video to find out about Haruki:

If you have never read any Haruki Murakami then this is a video about which books you could read first:

Where to get it

About the author

Haruki Murakami is an author of several very well know Fiction Books - 1Q84, Norwegian Wood, The Wind-up Bird Chronicles to name a few - and lives near Tokyo. He was born in Kyoto in 1949 and started writing seriously in his thirties. His style is heavily influenced by Western Culture which distinguishes his writing from other Japanese writers. He is also an experienced marathon runner and has even taken part in an ultramarathon which is a 100km running race.

Publication Date:

August 11, 2009

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