Cover of book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

by: Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel (Translator)

Check out the book on Amazon | your public library.
41 Highlights | 27 Notes
  • No matter how mundane some action might appear, keep at it long enough and it becomes a contemplative, even meditative act
    Note: Anything is meditation
  • Here it is: 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 unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand anymore is up to the runner himself. This pretty much sums up the most important aspect of marathon running.
    Note: litany against suffering
  • I stop every day right at the point where I feel I can write more. Do that, and the next day's work goes surprisingly smoothly. I think Ernest Hemigway did something like that. To keep on going, you have to keep up the rythm. This is the important thing for long-term projects. Once you set the pace, the rest will follow. The problem is getting the flywheel to spin at a set speed - and to get to that point takes as much concentration and effort as you can manage.
    Note: pacing, how to pace
  • Lovin Spoonful
    Note: music recommendation, to listen
  • Sometimes when I think of life, I feel like a piece of driftwood washed up on the shore.
    Note: like random currents taking you to random places, our life is like that piece of driftwood
  • I don't know why, but the older you get, the busier you become.
  • Don't misunderstand me - I am not totally uncompetitive. It's just that for some reason I never cared all that much whether I beat others or lost to them. This sentiment remained pretty much unchanged after I grew up. It doesn't matter what field you are talking about - beating somebody else just doesn't do it for me. I'm much more interested in whether I reach the goals that I set for myself, so in this sense long-distance running is the perfect mindset like mine.
  • What's crucial is whether your writing attains the standards you've set for yourself. Failure to reach that bar is not something you can easily explain away. When it comes to other people, you can always come up with a reasonable explanation, but you can't fool yourself.
  • Breathing in the crisp, bracing, early-morning air, I felt once again the joy of running on familiar ground. The sound of my footsteps, my breathing and heartbeats, all blended together in a unique polyrhythm.
    Note: Polyrythm!
  • I prefer the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Gorillaz, and Beck, and oldies like Creedence Clearwater Revival and the Beach Boys.
    Note: #to-read
  • I'm the kind of person who likes to be by himself. To put a finer point on it, I'm the type of person who doesn't find it painful to be alone. I find spending an hour or two every day running alone, not speaking to anyone, as well as four or five hours alone at my desk, to be neither difficult nor boring.
  • I just run. I run in a void. Or maybe I should put it the other way: I run in order to acquire a void.
  • For now all I can do is put off making any detailed judgments and accept things as they are. Just like I accept the sky, the clouds, and the river. And there's also something comical about it all, something you don't want to discard completely.
    Note: acceptance
  • Emotional hurt is the price a person has to pay in order to be independent.
    Note: cost of independence
  • I'll wait till later to think about what it all means. (Putting off thinking about something is one of my specialties, a skill I've honed as I've grown older.)
    Note: pause vs todo
  • All I do is keep on running in my own cozy, homemade void, my own nostalgic silence. And this is a pretty wonderful thing. No matter what anybody else says.
  • I got up before five a.m. and went to bed before ten p.m. People are at their best at different times of the day, but I'm definitely a morning person. That's when I can focus and finish up the important work I have to do. Afterward I work out or do other errands that don't take much concentration. At the end of the day I relax and don't do any more work. I read, listen to music, take it easy, and try to go to bed early.
    Note: schedule, Haruki's routine
  • 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.
    Note: work, life,habits
  • Even when I ran the bar I followed the same policy. A lot of customers came to the bar. If one out of ten enjoyed the place and said he'd come again, that was enough. If one out of ten was a repeat customer, then the business would survive. To put it the other way, it didn't matter if nine out of ten didn't like my bar. This realization lifted a weight off my shoulders. Still, I had to make sure that the one person who did like the place really liked it. In order to make sure he did, I had to make my philosophy and stance clear-cut, and patiently maintain that stance no matter what. This is what I learned through running a business.
  • The main thing was not the speed or the distance so much as running everyday, without taking a break.

    So, like my three meals a day - along with sleeping, housework, and work - running was incorporated into my daily routine.
    Note: everyday, EVERYDAY
  • I began to eat mostly vegetables, with fish as my main source of protein. I never liked meat much anyway, and this aversion became more pronounced. I cut back on rice and alchol and began using all natural ingredients. Sweets weren't a problem since I never much cared for them.
    Note: Haruki's diet
  • Some of my readers may be the kind of people who easily gain weight, but the only way to understand what's really fair is to take the long-range view of things. For the reasons I give above, I think this physical nuisance should be viewed in a positive way, as a blessing. We should consider ourselves lucky that the red lght is so clearly visible. Of course, it's not always easy to see things this way.
    Note: the long view, on the tendency of some people to put on weight quickly and why this is a good thing
  • In other words, lets face it: Life is basically unfair. But even in a situation that's unfair, I think it's posssible to seek out a kind of fairness. Of course, that might take time and effort. And maybe it won't seem to be worth at all. It's up to each individual to decide whether or not it is.
    Note: unfairness and how to perceive it
  • Whenever I feel like I don't want to run, I always ask myself the same thing: You're able to make a living as a novelist working at home, setting your own hours, so you don't have to commute on a packed train or sit through boring meetings. Don't you realize how fortunate you are? (Believe me, I do.) Compared to that, running an hour around the neighborhood is nothing, right?
    Note: self motivation, how to self motivate
  • I finally reach the end. Strangely, I have no feeling of achievement. The only thing I feel is utter relief that I don't have to do it anymore.
    Note: at the end of achievement
  • The funny thing is, no matter how much experience I have under my belt, no matter how old I get, it's all just a repeat of what came before.

    I think certain types of processes don't allow for any variation. If you have to be a part of the process, all you can do is transform - or perhaps distort - yourself through that persistent repetition, and make that process a part of your own personality.

    Note: spiral of life, on training for running
  • The total amount of running I'm doing might be going down, but at least I am following one of my basic rules for training: I never take two days off in a row.
    Note: everyday, EVERYDAY
  • ...focus - the ability to concentrate all your limited talents on whatever's critical at the moment.
    Note: focus
  • I generally concentrate on work for three or four hours every morning. I sit at my desk and focus totally on what I'm writing. I don't see anything else, I don't think about anything else. Even a novelist who has a lot of talent and a mind full of great new ideas probably can't write a thing if, for instance, he's suffering a lot of pain from a cavity.
    Note: focus
  • Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you're going to while away the years, it's far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive than in a fog, and I believe running helps you do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that's the essence of running, and a metaphor for life - and for me, for writing as well. I believe many runners would agree.
    Note: the why
  • In other words, my muscles are the type that need a long time to warm up. They're slow to get started. But once they're warmed up they can keep working well for a long time with no strain. They're the kind of muscles you need for long distances, but aren't suited at all for short distances.
  • As you age you learn even to be happy with what you have. That's one of the few good points of growing older.
  • You have to wait until tomorrow to find out what tomorrow will bring.
  • All parts of my body had their chance to take center stage and scream out their complaints. They screamed, complained, yelled in distress, and warned me that they weren't going to take it anymore. For them, running sixty miles was an unknown experience, and each body part had its own excuse. I understood completely, but all I wanted them to do was keep quiet and keep on running.
    Note: endurance sports - the endurance part
  • No matter how slow I might run, I wasn't about to walk. That was the rule. Break one of my rules once, and I'm bound to break many more. And if I'd done that, it would have been impossible to finish the race.
  • I was in the midst of deep exhaustion that I'd totally accepted, and the reality was that I was still able to continue running, and for me there was nothing more I could ask of the world.
  • The end of the race is just a temporary marker without much significance. It's the same with our lives. Just because there's an end doesn't mean existence has meaning. An end point is simply set up as a temporary marker, or perhaps as an indirect metaphor for the fleeting nature of existance.
  • Still, the most significant fallout from running the ultramarathon wasn't physical but mental. What I ended up with was a sense of lethargy, and before I knew it, I felt covered by a thin film, something I've since dubbed runner's blues. (Though the actual feeling of it was closer to milky white.)
  • In order to get there you have to stubbornly, rigorously, and very patiently tighten all the screws of each individual part. This takes time, of course, but sometimes taking time is actually a shortcut.
    Note: shortcuts and taking time
  • 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.
    Note: know thyself
  • 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, ehich 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 a sense of awareness of the fluidity with the action itself. If things go well, that is.
    Note: pain, desire for pain, learning from pain