A Lot of Running with a hint of Writing


In 1982, having sold his jazz bar to devote himself to writing, Murakami began running to keep fit. A year later, he’d completed a solo course from Athens to Marathon, and now, after dozens of such races, not to mention triathlons and a dozen critically acclaimed books, he reflects upon the influence the sport has had on his life and–even more important–on his writing.

Equal parts training log, travelogue, and reminiscence, this revealing memoir covers his four-month preparation for the 2005 New York City Marathon and takes us to places ranging from Tokyo’s Jingu Gaien gardens, where he once shared the course with an Olympian, to the Charles River in Boston among young women who outpace him. Through this marvelous lens of sport emerges a panorama of memories and insights: the eureka moment when he decided to become a writer, his greatest triumphs and disappointments, his passion for vintage LPs, and the experience, after fifty, of seeing his race times improve and then fall back.

By turns funny and sobering, playful and philosophical, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is rich and revelatory, both for fans of this masterful yet guardedly private writer and for the exploding population of athletes who find similar satisfaction in distance running.”


This is a memoir in which Murakami zooms in on life lessons and self-discoveries he’s had through being a long-distance runner. It reads more like a stream of consciousness – a true diary if you will – as he is writing at different periods of his life but given the limited topic, it doesn’t lose focus. What is also great is the mentions of how he began writing, and that, for him, running and writing are inseparable and represent his desire to pursue things he’s passionate about and do them wholeheartedly.

For me, this book did not necessarily give me a push to start running but was very insightful for me to learn from his discipline with writing. But, overall, the book was purely enjoyable to consume – structured but intimate and insightful as any stranger’s life’s story could be.

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