What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Book Review)

I grabbed this book on a whim when I saw it. The title immediately caught my interest because I'm into running lately. It was so wonderful to learn that one of my favorite authors, Haruki Murakami, is into running as well. I'll shun the bad review written by the New York Times as it mainly attacked the "laidback" and sub-mediocre prose of the book. Yes, there were a lot of pretty redundant and tiring phrases from this pretty much short memoir and that makes the NY Times pretty much right about it.

But What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is non-fiction after all, and I delved more on the personal account of Murakami on his passion for running, while at the same time revealing the parallelisms of running and writing. I consider myself a serious runner in the sense that I always aim to beat my own PR (personal record) and try to run regularly, but I am nothing compared to the passion of Murakami. He discovered his love for running at age 33, and has since geared up himself to run one full marathon a year (that's equivalent to 42 kilometers or 26.2 miles). He runs six days a week at an average of six miles per day. And for once in his life, he completed an ultra-marathon in Japan that covered a distance of no less than 62 miles! That took him 11 hours to complete!! Wow. I feel tired just saying that.

As for me, I only joined 5km events in the last 2 years. It's only now that I had the guts to level up to 10km. I will only be attempting my second 10km run this Sunday while hoping to beat my 1:04 time. Surely this is nothing compared to Murakami's feat, determination and love for the sport. In his book, he said that though he feels older now (60 this year) and his muscles getting tired, he will continue to run full marathons once a year even if he could not train as rigorously anymore and even if he could not beat his own PR anymore.

I could relate to Murakami as he described how it really feels like while joining a race (albeit with my 5km and 10km runs in contrast to his full marathons). As your legs step in rhythm from one foot to the next, there comes a time when your legs feel it has a mind of its own already and you are running mechanically. You could look up to the sky for sympathy but it will stare back at you with indifference. You are on your own. And that's the best feeling at the finish line as you absorb the idea of your own feat.

I am not bound to compare myself with Murakami (I will fail in every aspect). But he has inspired me to be the best I can in my pursuit of long distance running. I could someday finish at least a half-marathon before my legs give up on me. I have written once in my blog how I consider running my personal prayer. It's that solitary moment when I take it one step at a time to the finish line, stay attuned to my breathing and listen to my heart pump. If only for this, maybe I will also be able to sustain running until in my 60s.
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