What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Notes

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but I can’t grasp much of anything without putting down my thoughts in writing, so I had to actually get my hands working and write these words.

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Otherwise, I’d never know what running means to me.

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Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

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This is the same sort of tack I find necessary when writing a novel. 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.

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I think Ernest Hemingway did something like that. To keep on going, you have to keep up the rhythm.

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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.

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I run in order to acquire a void.

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Since I wasn’t that athletic or coordinated, I wasn’t good at the kind of sports where things are decided in a flash. Long-distance running and swimming suit my personality better.

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So my new, simple, and regular life began. I got up before five a.m. and went to bed before ten p.m. People are at their best at different times of day, but I’m definitely a morning person. That’s when I can focus and finish up important work I have

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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? Whenever I picture packed trains and endless meetings, this gets me motivated all over again and I lace up my running shoes and set off without any qualms. If I can’t manage this much, I think, it’ll serve me right.

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“Muscles are hard to get and easy to lose. Fat is easy to get and hard to lose.”

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There are three reasons I failed. Not enough training. Not enough training. And not enough training.

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Plus I’m steadily working on these essays on running, though nobody in particular has asked me to. Just like a silent village blacksmith, tinkering away.

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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.

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After focus, the next most important thing for a novelist is, hands down, endurance.

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You’ll naturally learn both concentration and endurance when you sit down every day at your desk and train yourself to focus on one point.

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Compared to them I’m pretty used to losing.

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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 existence.

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What I mean is, 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. I’ve always done whatever I felt like doing in life. People may try to stop me, and convince me I’m wrong, but I won’t change. I look up at the sky, wondering if I’ll catch a glimpse of kindness there, but I don’t. All I see are indifferent summer clouds drifting over the Pacific. And they have nothing to say to me. Clouds are always taciturn. I probably shouldn’t be looking up at them. What I should be looking at is inside of me. Like staring down into a deep well. Can I see kindness there? No, all I see is my own nature. My own individual, stubborn, uncooperative, often self-centered nature that still doubts itself—that, when troubles occur, tries to find something funny, or something nearly funny, about the situation. 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.

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Haruki Murakami 1949–20** Writer (and Runner) At Least He Never Walked

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Each time I wrote more I’d ask myself, So—what’s on my mind right now?

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through the act of writing I wanted to sort out what kind of life I’ve led, both as a novelist and as an ordinary person, over these past twenty-five years. When