I am thoroughly enjoying listening to Haruki Murakami’s “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running,” as I am trying to learn to run (using the NHS Couch to 5K app.)
When Murakami began to write full-time, he gained weight. “If I wanted to have a long life as a novelist, I needed to find a way to keep fit and maintain a healthy weight.” He is an introvert, so running suited him.
As he runs, he changes physically–losing all his extra weight, and developing muscle. “Now, after years of running, my musculature has changed completely.)
And he finds the hour or two of solitude as he runs important to his mental well-being. The endorphins and “runner’s high” “heal the loneliness,” of his solitary novel-writing. ‘This is not so much an intentional act, but an instinctive” solution, he says.
If he feels frustrated, he goes running a little further, “to physically exhaust” his discontent. The experience leaves him physically stronger, and he thus “improves himself.”
And as his muscles “groan and scream,” his “comprehension meter shoots upwards, and he grasps things.”
He writes, “Having a body that easily puts on weight was perhaps a blessing in disguise. If I don’t want to gain weight, I have to work out hard every day, watch what I eat, and cut down on indulgences. Eventually, your metabolism will greatly improve, and you’ll end up much healthier, not mention stronger. You can even slow down the effects of aging. Whereas the physical strength of people who naturally keep the weight off deteriorates as they age. If you don’t exercise, your muscles will weaken, as will your bones. So this physical nuisance should be viewed as a blessing.”
He says the most important things for a novelist are talent, focus and endurance—the same traits a long distance runner needs. Running helps him write, and vice-versa. Each of his passions gives him the traits he needed for the other.
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Anyway, I have loved listening to him as I am trying to learn to run, which, sadly, has not been easy.
But, in running, I have found a form of exercise I enjoy and I really look forward to my every second day short run!
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