I was browsing a bookstore in the Tokyo airport to help me pass time during a layover when I spotted this little paper back. I remembered Anhelo’s positive review on Pajiba. I’ve never read any of Mirakami’s other novels, so I can’t compare his works.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a collection of Haruki Mirakami’s thoughts on running and its relationship to him and his work. Don’t read this expecting to learn Mirakami’s life story or even to learn about his writing process. It is about running. Only running as it pertains to his life. For that reason, if you have no passion or even a passing interest in running – this is not the book for you. This man has run a marathon each year for over twenty years. He has also delved into triathlons. Interestingly enough, he never posts his times for races. Instead he details races and his feelings and his physical reactions to each mile.
I ran cross country in high school. I continued running solo during college. I was training for my first marathon when a foot injury left me sidelined for months. During that time I was beginning nursing school. I never regained my momentum, and I still struggle to reach that same discipline. I try because I like who I am as a runner. Long-distance running suits me. I don’t really understand why someone would only run a mile or two, for it takes me that long (sometimes longer) to get settled into my running groove. I enjoy the solitude. I enjoy the feeling of my muscles working, my blood pumping, and the wiping clean of my mind. Running is a form of therapy. I believe that it saves me from my depressive tendencies. It has helped me with my sleeping problems. I’m not sure what exactly I think about when running. The beginning of the run may include thoughts of the day and any current problems, but as the run progresses it all just disappears. I simply concentrate on every step and breath – a kind of meditation.
Mirakami describes his own mental state when running:
“I’m often asked what I think about as I run. Usually people who ask this have never run long distances themselves. I always ponder the question. What exactly do I think about when I’m running? I don’t have a clue… I just run. I run in a void. Or maybe I should put it another way: I run in order to acquire a void.”
The perfect response. I run in order to acquire a void. I’m taking that as my own. I also adore his chosen epitaph:
Writer and Runner
At Least He Never Walked