May 28, 2015

Running Commentary: May 28, 2015

Sometimes I forget whether I have actually written about a particular topic here or if I just thought about writing about a particular topic here.  I’m feeling quite confident that I did not write about my most exciting Frenchy’s find here, so I will rectify that today.

Last week, I found a copy of Haruki Murakami’s “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.”  This title, of course, is an homage to the inimitable Raymond Carver (What We Talk About When We Talk About Love). It became all the more delightful when I came to the bit where he explains that he received permission from the late Carver’s wife to make this lovely allusion.

The sheer delight of having one of my favourite writers write about something that takes up an inordinate amount of my life and thoughts was just too much, almost, to handle.

But then a friend who is a far better and more serious runner than I am, and a fan of Murakami AND a literature lover did not give this book a resounding thumbs up.

I think, then, that my over-enthused initial reaction, combined with my friend’s under-enthused reaction, left me with a neutral starting point.

To clarify, as well, I have been aware that this book exists for quite some time.  However, I do genuinely attempt not to buy new books, so I had resisted purchasing it until now.  I also feel that I need to combine this review with a review of another book about running I had picked up (used, of course) the week before.  That book is one that everyone raves about and it is called Born to Run.*

I’ll start with Born to Run.  I read about 5 pages of Born to Run and I thought, “gosh, this reads exactly like a men’s magazine.”**

I then read the author’s bio in which I learned that he is a men’s magazine writer.  I read about 5 more pages, sighed heavily, and dropped it onto the floor (and picked up Miriam Toews’ The Flying Troutmans, which I am revelling in).

But back to Murakami’s book.  It’s not about running.  Or, rather, it’s not about revelations about training, or how to overcome/accomplish/plan/develop anything about running.  It’s about living inside Murakami’s head while he writes about what he thinks about when he’s running (and a bit of triatheloning – which is a word I just made up).

Some of it is about accepting the gradual, but inevitable, decline that comes with ageing.  Some of it is about the effect weather has on the running body.  Some of it is about how much more effort he puts into his running than into his writing, even as he reflects on how much work went into crafting such a small book.

I guess what I loved so much about this book, and I did love it (although I think Murakami could write a grocery list and I’d love it) was that it really fit squarely with how much running can just chip away at all of the bodily experience one has in the world until all that is left is a mind, floating along.  It’s such an odd sensation, to be running for a long time, and he captures (for me at least) what that entire thought process is like.

Yes, I guess you could argue that this is only very peripherally connected to the concept of de-cluttering, but I would argue back that it’s also all about how sometimes being relentless and stubborn is the most direct line to clarity and focus.

Plus, it’s Haruki Murakami!!!!!***

Day 209 scorecard: 1045 down, 780 to go

* from what little I read, I am also suspicious that this book might end up as the next Three Cups of Tea

** this is not exactly a resounding endorsement in my world.

*** aka: the only Japanese guy whose name I spell correctly without a second thought.

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