What I talk about when I talk about running. Haruki Murakami.

I saw this book while in the Harvad Co-op while in Boston for the marathon (I was spectating, not running!).  Quickly put a sample on the kindle and when I read that later, had to get the whole book.  Kindle samples are killing me!  :-)

The 1st chapter of this book sounded an awful lot like me, even though Mr. Murakami is in his later 50’s…  The 1st chapter was the best, while the rest were not as interesting to me.  Just about running marathons and/or triathlons, though he did have one ultra. But overall a lot of good insite worth reading and sharing here.  So I’ll just throw out a bunch of quotes:

  • Somerset 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 is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Say you’re running and you start to think, Man this hurts, I can’t take it anymore. The hurt part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand any more is up to the runner himself. This pretty much sums up the most important aspect of marathon running.
  • I don’t know why, but the older you get, the busier you become.  [ too true! ]
  • the fact that I’m me and no one else is one of my greatest assets.
  • By running longer it’s like I can physically exhaust that portion of my discontent.
  • (Putting off thinking about something is one of my specialties, a skill I’ve honed as I’ve grown older.)
  • I’m struck by how, except when you’re young, 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.
  • but the only way to understand what’s really fair is to take a long-range view of things.
  • Life is basically unfair. But even in a situation that’s unfair, I think it’s possible to seek out a kind of fairness. Of course, that might take time and effort. And maybe it won’t seem to be worth all that. It’s up to each individual to decide whether or not it is.
  • The most important thing we ever learn at school is the fact that the most important things can’t be learned at school.
  • As you age you learn even to be happy with what you have. That’s one of the few good points of growing older.
  • Still, it’s pretty wonderful to watch these pretty girls run. As I do, I’m struck by an obvious thought: One generation takes over from the next. This is how things are handed over in this world, so I don’t feel so bad if they pass me. These girls have their own pace, their own sense of time. And I have my own pace, my own sense of time. The two are completely different, but that’s the way it should be.
  • and covered sixty-two miles. It was draining physically, as you can imagine, and for a while afterward I swore I’d never run again. I doubt I’ll try it again, but who knows what the future may hold. Maybe someday, having forgotten my lesson, I’ll take up the challenge of an ultramarathon again. You have to wait until tomorrow to find out what tomorrow will bring.
  • Since I was on autopilot, if someone had told me to keep on running I might well have run beyond sixty-two miles. It’s weird, but at the end I hardly knew who I was or what I was doing. This should have been a very alarming feeling, but it didn’t feel that way. By then running had entered the realm of the metaphysical. First there came the action of running, and accompanying it there was this entity known as me. I run; therefore I am.
  • In this instance, relief outweighed happiness.
  • And one of the privileges given to those who’ve avoided dying young is the blessed right to grow old. The honor of physical decline is waiting, and you have to get used to that reality.
  • Competing against time isn’t important. What’s going to be much more meaningful to me now is how much I can enjoy myself, whether I can finish twenty-six miles with a feeling of contentment. I’ll enjoy and value things that can’t be expressed in numbers, and I’ll grope for a feeling of pride that comes from a slightly different place.
  • Reaching the finish line, never walking, and enjoying the race. These three, in this order, are my goals.
  • On the body of the bike is written “18 Til I Die,” the name of a Bryan Adams hit. It’s a joke, of course. Being eighteen until you die means you die when you’re eighteen.
  • I’ve carried this character around like an old suitcase, down a long, dusty path. I’m not carrying it because I like it. The contents are too heavy, and it looks crummy, fraying in spots. I’ve carried it with me because there was nothing else I was supposed to carry. Still, I guess I have grown attached to it. As you might expect.
  • I’d always thought I was sort of a brazen person, but this issue with hyperventilating made me realize a part of me was, unexpectedly, high strung. I had no idea how nervous I got at the start of a race. But it turns out I really was tense, just like everybody else. It doesn’t matter how old I get, but as long as I continue to live I’ll always discover something new about myself. No matter how long you stand there examining yourself naked before a mirror, you’ll never see reflected what’s inside.
  • Of course it was painful, and there were times when, emotionally, I just wanted to chuck it all. But pain seems to be a precondition for this kind of sport. If pain weren’t involved, who in the world would ever go to the trouble of taking part in sports like the triathlon or the marathon, which demand such an investment of time and energy? It’s precisely because of the pain, precisely because we want to overcome that pain, that we can get the feeling, through this process, of really being alive—or at least a partial sense of it. Your quality of experience is based not on standards such as time or ranking, but on finally awakening to an awareness of the fluidity within action itself. If things go well, that is.
  • My time, the rank I attain, my outward appearance—all of these are secondary. For a runner like me, what’s really important is reaching the goal I set myself, under my own power. I give it everything I have, endure what needs enduring, and am able, in my own way, to be satisfied.
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