What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

running(US)What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is author Haruki Murakami’s memoir covering the intersection of running and writing in his life and how each discipline has informed the other in his experience.  It’s not so much a how-to book–you won’t find tips on training or on how to put together novels–but I found his musings helpful in a broader sense, and thought the concept worked well as a memoir.

As you read the book, you develop a good sense of Murakami’s overall philosophy of work.  He writes about discipline and endurance, the importance of building good habits in line with your goals, and emphasizes the role of innate talent and aptitude.  I think Murakami’s take on this balance of talent and hard work is well developed, and linking writing to extreme running is a great metaphor.  Murakami’s memoir credits his body type, temperament, and talent, but leaves little doubt that daily hard work and endurance training formed a large part of his success in both areas.

One idea I found particularly interesting throughout the memoir was Murakami’s linking of physical habits to mental creativity.  For example, he mentions excellent writers who wind up burning out or even committing suicide when their creativity ebbs, and traces his own ability to maintain steady creativity to the balance that physical hard work brings him.  Without that balance, he says, you can only offset the toll of creative work for so long.  Over the weekend a friend remarked on the fact that creative work is more exhausting in some sense than physical labor, because the physical work is itself an outlet for stress and strain.  Murakami certainly chalks up his habit of daily running to his ability to avoid creative exhaustion.  It’s an interesting link to consider.

If you are into running or writing, or if you’re just a fan of good memoirs, I’d recommend What I Talk About When I Talk About Running as a quick but thoughtful read.

What do you think about the connection between physical and creative energy?  Do you see anything like that in your own life?


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