Monday, July 23, 2012

Book Report: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

I think I have found the reason why I have been a little off as of late.  My running schedule just picked up quite a bit.  This week will be a recovery week of 29 total miles and next week I hit 39 and then on to 40ish mile weeks until late October.  Over the past month of so, after fighting against my back and pissy hamstring, I had yet to have a good run.  I had been dreading the training and was extremely worried about my goal time for the New York City Marathon in November.

The reality was that I was injured and was just working through it.  Lo and behold, I did my prescribed exercises and daily foam rolling and my injury healed and my running improved.  I began to feel so much better and finally, this weekend, on my longest training run to-date, I had a great run. Fourteen miles with no pain and a ton of energy to spare.

While not a traditional book report blog post, I felt it was appropriate considering what I just finished reading. Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a strange book.  It chronicles his life as a runner, novelist, and a few other things.  It is widely considered a must read by runners, or at least by every runner I talked to about this book.

I finished the book feeling somewhat confused about the point of this collection of loosely incorporated essays. But as I broke out of my running funk, this very well-written some-what of a downer of a book, put me into another funk.  The story lines seem to say that amateur endurance athletes take on these crazy goals for no good reason or simply to prove it to ourselves that this Sisyphean feat is possible.  While I tend to believe this is the case, I want to change my point of view on the subject, as well as some others.

I had a long Gchat conversation with my mom about "the point" of doing things recently.  I went on about effecting change and the ability to do so being governed solely by access to money.  If you are a long-term reader of my blog, you will know that I used to be an impassioned advocate for a number of progressive causes.  If you are just joining me, you know I am sick to death of politics.  And this feeling started to creep into my other societal experiences.  This is the other subject I believe needs a perspective change.

My running has helped me become more focused and see things more objectively.  When you are out running for hours on end, you are forced to think a certain way.  Food is fuel.  Water cannot be wasted on washing your face.  The way your foot hits the ground changes the way your entire body works.  Sadly it is near impossible to apply the lessons  learned on the run in the real world.  The last few years have thought me a lot, but only about myself.

Running, for all its greatness, really is about self.  I used to very much care about others and how my contributions would help the whole.  But that has changed.  I don't blame running at all.  I blame political experts and fraudulent business practitioners.  The running helped me see this more clearly, but it has yet to help me get to a place where I wanted to care again.

It would be easy just to say I don't care and move on with my life.  But I don't want to do that.  So if nothing else, this book forced me to think about much more than what I think about when I think about running.  Which was good.

4 out of 5.

No comments: