Tuesday, June 5, 2012

PBR: What I Talk About When I talk About Running (Haruki Murakami, 2007)

I am a born-again runner, of sorts. A few months ago I decided I needed to lose weight. I was 241 pounds at the time (109kg) and wanted to get down to 180 pounds (81kg). I started out with Jillian Michaels' "Ripped in 30" DVD, which was quite helpful, but I am not a fan of this type exercise. One day I decided to start running again.

To be honest, I am not a fan of inspirational books, particularly on exercise, nor with guides. I am, however, quite the fan of Haruki Murakami and this book promised to be more than a book on running. It is a book of philosophy, in many ways, a journal and a guide for writers. I am hardly a writer, and still a weak runner, but the book is quite interesting.

Beside being a novelist, Murakami is a writer of articles for periodicals. This combined with his running has led him to interview a great number of world class runners, and his fame has allowed him to meet even more. He does not bog us down with their insights, but rather boils down his discussions with them to meet the question at hand. Lets face it, most athletes can be a rather boring lot to listen to, but will produce the occasional pearl of wisdom.

For me, the fascination is with his discussion of his life as a runner. In the 21 years leading up to the book, he has run a marathon every year. His first unofficial marathon was the reverse of the actual marathon, going from Athens to Marathon, rather than the other way. He describes how he had never run more than 22 miles before, and how it felt to hit that wall. It was also interesting to hear what goes on in his head when he runs. I tend to go blank. I do not notice the scenery much, my eyes and ears focused on hazards instead. That might be the motorcyclist in me. Though he does describe the road and traffic conditions more than anything else.

Runners and writer should like this a great deal, as might others involved in endurance based activities or creative livelihoods. It is definitely about more than running and writing. I find it rather compelling.

As for my running and weight loss; I am down to 215 pounds now (97kg) and ran my first organized 5k last Saturday, putting in a rather dismal, yet consistent for me, time of 38:55. I will be running a 5 mile race in New York this summer as well, the Front Runners New York Pride Run. Hopefully I can bring my 5 miles down to an hour, but make no promises.

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