What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” is a memoir of Haruki Murakami, a famous novelist from Japan who has been regularly running for several decades. In this book Murakami explains the philosophy behind his running, how he came to do that and what he has gained from running. The reader will also learn things about Murakami’s personal life, including how he came to writing novels.

The book is very interesting to read because the writer interconnects the events in his life with his attitudes and values in life. In several places he gives very thoughtul hints about which attitude brings success both in running and in life. The fact that he interconnects decisions and attitudes in life to those in running or doing other sports, makes the book thought-provoking.

Easy to read, catching and not very long, the book is a nice addition not only to a weekend sportswarrior’s bookshelf but also to the shelf of anyone

with goals in his/her life. Well, at least I got some new thoughts provoked by Murakami.

My notes:

  • Sumerset Maugham once wrote that in each shave lies a philosophy. I couldn’t agree more. No matter how mundane some action might appear, keep at it long enough and it becomes a contemplative, even meditative act.
  • Pain isinevitable. Suffering is optional.
  • To keep on going, you have to keep up the rhythm. This is the important thing for long-term projects. Once you set the pace, the rest will follow. The problem is getting the flyweel to spin at a set speed – and to get to that point takes as much concentration and effort as you can manage.
  • One of the results of running a little farther than usual is that I become that much stronger. If I’m angry, I direct that anger toward myself. If I have a frustrating experience, I use that to improve myself.
  • I’m not the type who operates through pure theory or logic, not the type whose energy source is intellectual speculation. Only when I’m given an actual physical burden and my muscles start to groan (and sometimes scream) does my comprehension meter shoot upward and I’m finally able to grasp something.
  • I just figured, though, that since failure was not an option, I’d have to give it everything I had. My only strength has always been the fact that I work hard and can take a lot physically.
  • I’m struck by how you really need to prioritize in life, figuring out in what order you should divide up your time and energy. If you don’t get that sort of system set by a certain age, you’ll lack focus and your life will be out of balance.
  • No matter how much you might command your body to perform, don’t count on it to immediately obey. the body is an extremely practical system. You have to let it experience intermittent pain over time, and then the body will get the point.
  • Certain types of processes don’t allow for any variation. If you have to be part of that process, all you can do is transform – or perhaps distort – yourself through that persistent repetition, and make that process a part of your own personality.
  • Muscles are like work animals that are quick on the uptake. if you carefully increase the load, step by step, they learn to take it. As long as you explain your expectations to them by actually showing them examples of the amount of work they have to endure, your muscles will comply and gradually get stronger. it doesn’t happen overnight, of course. But as long as you take your time and do it in stages, they won’t complain – aside from the occcasional long face – and they’ll very patiently and obediently grow stronger. Through repetition you input into your muscles the message that this is how much work they have to perform. Our muscles are very conscientious. As long as we observe the correct procedure, they won’t complain.
  • If I’m asked what the next most important quality is for a novelist, that’s easy too: focus – the ability to concentrate all your limited talents on whatever’s critical at the moment. Without that you can’t accomplish anything of value, while, if you can focus effectively, you’ll be able to compensate for an erratic talent or even a shortage of it.
  • Fortunately, these two disciplines – focus and endurance – are different from talent, since they can be acquired and sharpened through training. You’ll naturally learn both concentration and endurance when you sit down every day at your desk and train yourself to focus on one point. You have to continually transmit the object of your focus to your entire body, and make sure it thoroughly assimilates the information necessary for you to write every single day and concentrate on the work at hand. Add a stimulus and keep it up. And repeat. Patience is a must in this process, but I guarantee the results will come.
  • If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive than in a fog, and I believe running help you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life – and for me, for writing as well.
  • If something is worth doing, it is worth giving it your best – or in some cases, beyond your best.
  • Remember to get your audience to laugh to put them at ease.
  • In most cases learning something essential in life requires physical pain.
  • No matter how long you stand there examining yourself naked in the mirror, you’ll never see reflected what’s inside.
  • From out of the failures and joys I always try to come away having crasped a concrete lesson (it’s got to be concrete, no matter how small it is.).

One thought on “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

  1. Looking forward to read this book. I just finished with ‘A Wild Sheep Chase’. I really into his writings when I first started with ‘Norwegian Wood’. He’s simply amazing writer and I bet that could understand more of his work through reading this memoir.

    Thanx again for sharing.


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