Get up, lace up your running shoes, get out, and run.
When you break down running in your head like this, it sounds like there’s really not much to it. And there is a truth to that, and at the same time, more to it than it actually seems, as I’m sure any running enthusiast will vehemently agree to.
There are runners that, for the love of the sport know that to train the mind is just as important as training the body, and so they search for new knowledge on how to better improve on what they love doing the most.
Running is one thing to many, and many things to some, and a few could care enough to romanticize the act of it. There are running athletes, running coaches, sports scientists who specialize in running, and believe it or not, there are running writers.
To talk about literature on running, off the bat, the registry in my brain would immediately turn up with the utterly boring answer of: articles. Majority of which will be how-to’s, a number of tips and tricks, and a good handful of what we like to call ‘success stories.’ And to say that there is actually a book on running, would have quite frankly solicited from me an ‘oh, really?’
Yes, as avid of a reader as I am, I have not come across books on running as much as I would like to say. And even more surprising for me, is that when I did happen to chance upon a book on running, it had actually been written by one of my favorite novelists: Haruki Murakami, who also happens to be—yes, you guessed it—a runner. [Learn more on Murakami as a runner here]
And a fairly hardcore long-distance runner at that, for having run the route where marathons originated at Marathon, Greece, and has finished countless of marathons, including the New York City Marathon over.
To those unfamiliar with his writing, to give you an idea, Haruki Murakami a contemporary novelist who is widely known for thought-provoking novels such as Norwegian Wood, Kafka on the Shore, and Sputnik Sweetheart. Of course, those are just a few of his many contemplative works [for more of his works, check out his website], and not really the point of the matter.
The book he’d written on running and the one that lead to this article’s existence, entitled What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, is one that talks about his reflections as both runner and writer as he trained for the New York City Marathon in the year of 2005.
And if you’re a runner, I highly recommend you to read it and discover how running has been contributory not just to physical well-being but in the strengthening of one’s character. And I guess, to nudge you further into the direction of reading it, here are a few his meditations on running that I hope you find you can relate to as much as I did:
1. “No matter how mundane some action might appear, keep at it long enough and it becomes a contemplative, even meditative act.”
2. “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.”
3. “In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.”
4. “Sometimes, however, this sense of isolation, like acid spilling out of a bottle, can unconsciously eat away at a person’s heart and dissolve it… It protects me, but at the same time steadily cuts away at me from the inside.”
5. “If I have a frustrating experience, I use it to improve myself… I quietly absorb the things I’m able to, releasing them later, and in as changed a form, as possible.”
6. “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.”
7. “Until the feeling that I’ve done a good job in a race returns, I’m going to keep running marathons, and not let it get me down.”
8. “Even when I grow old and feeble, when people warn me it’s about time to throw in the towel, I won’t care. As long as my body allows, I’ll keep on running.”
9. “I didn’t start [running] because somebody asked me to become a runner. Just like I didn’t become a novelist because someone asked me to. One day, out of the blue, I wanted to write a novel. And one day, out of the blue, I started to run—simply because I wanted to.”
10. “One by one, I’ll face the tasks before me and complete them as best I can. Focusing on each stride forward, but at the same time taking a long-range view, scanning the scenery as far ahead as I can. I am, after all, a long-distance runner.”
All brilliant points not just exclusively applicable to running, but in life, as well if you ask me. One book I’d definitely give to another fellow runner to read. Let us know of great running novels you’ve read in the comments. We’d love to read them, too!