Tag Archives: haruki murakami

Rest Days.

If you follow this blog at all, you know that I am very into both running and writing, and I am especially thrilled when the two overlap (See: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami). So when I found this quote on one of the writing blogs I follow, it really jumped out at me.

“There are days when I don’t write at all, but they are more like rest days.
There are days when I write a few thousand words and none of it goes into
the book, but those are like practice days, and they definitely happen to
everyone.” — Joanna Penn (in an interview with The Write Practice)

Just like running, you have to exercise your writing muscles. Back when I was working on my thesis for grad school I had no problem just sitting down and pounding out a few thousand words, but it was because I had been practicing for two years. And in the last year, as I’ve taken time to sort of detox from grad school, I’ve found myself having trouble even getting started. It’s sort of like how the hardest part of your run is the very first step (and the next few if you’ve taken some time off recently like I have…)

a professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit

You have good days and bad days in both running and writing. The key is getting yourself to start and then not letting yourself give up because of a bad day. Just take some time, rest, and start again tomorrow.

What does your writing/running schedule look like?

Do you plan your rest days? Or take them when you know you need them?


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What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki MurakamiHow it was possible for me to get this far in life without realizing there was a book out there that combined my two loves: running and writing, is beyond me. This book, of course, is What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

This book is only 180 pages. Short and poignant, it is a collection of short essays written by Murakami while training for yet another marathon. He describes his many experiences as a runner, including training, running races, and how all of it can be related to his writing.

To be honest, I can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t run enjoying this book. A writer may pick up this memoir to glean some wisdom about writing–which there is some–but I don’t think there is enough to satisfy someone with no interest in physical fitness.

But for me, it was the perfect mix. I have always said I would never run a full marathon, but having just run a half marathon and  now, having just read this book, I am starting to think a full marathon might be a reality for me sometime in the future. This book was inspiring in so many ways. As soon as I finished, I laced up and ran the fastest, most enjoyable four miles I’ve run probably ever.

One might consider this book a bit self-indulgent, which is exactly what Murakami said he feared in his introduction. It felt like he was working through his own thoughts, never really drawing helpful conclusions so much as, raising questions about life. At times I found this a bit frustrating, like reading someone’s diary, but at other times, I found it really human, and I appreciated knowing that this amazingly accomplished writer and runner has the same fears and concerns that I have, and works through them with the same uncertainty as I do.

As a runner, I really appreciated the discussion of his training and race experiences. He describes a grueling experience running the original marathon race in Athens, and his seemingly unbearable trial of human strength running an ultra-marathon. The details he gives of the pain he felt, physical and mental, remind me of many of the thoughts and feelings I have experienced as well. (And also solidified my resolve to never run an ultra-marathon because it does not in any way, shape, or form, sound fun.)

Below, I have excerpted some of my favorite passages from the book:

“When I’m training for a race, I have to show my muscles who’s boss. I have to make it clear to them what’s expected.” Page 72.

“Even if there were two of me, I still couldn’t do all that has to be done. No matter what, though, I keep up my running. Running every day is kind of a lifeline to me, so I’m not going to lay off or quit just because I’m busy. If I used being busy as an excuse not to run, I’d never run again. I have only a few reasons to keep running, and a truckload of them to quit. All I can do is keep those few reasons nicely polished.” Page 73.

“What’s needed for a writer of fiction — at least one who hopes to write a novel — is the energy to focus every day for half a year, or a year, two years. You can compare it to breathing. If concentration if the process of just holding your breath, endurance is the art of slowly, quietly breathing at the same time you’re storing air in your lungs…Continue to breathe while you hold your breath.” Page 78.

“Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life–and for me, for writing as well.” Page 83.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I appreciated it both for the wisdom is imparted, and  for inspiration of a shared human experience. It made me feel like I could pour my love into both writing and running, and that I didn’t have to choose one or the other to place my focus. Most of all, it made me feel like things I have been unable to even comprehend attempting are possible and achievable.

I’ll no doubt come back to this book for a pick-me-up every so often. It only took me a few hours to read, and it provided just the push I needed to get myself off the couch, out the door, and back putting one foot in front of the other.

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My UnDiet Week

CookiesI admit, I have completely phoned in my eating habits this week. I haven’t been on a run since my race, and I have been eating like….so many cookies. I have made an effort to eat fish twice this week, and some attempts at some hearty vegetables, but such efforts have been completely overshadowed by the  2-3 helpings I’ve also been having. Not to mention the various snacks and boozy beverages. All in all, it has not been a very healthy week for me.

I keep telling myself that tomorrow I will try harder–workout, and demonstrate some self-control–but then I get bored or tired, and that all goes out the window. Did I mention how much I love cookies? Because that hasn’t been helping either.

This probably stems from the fact that I no longer have any particular reason to be out running. I’m not training for a race and I haven’t set my sights on any specific goals yet. I have looked for races, but I haven’t found any in my area that I’m interested in. And when I’m not running, I tend to let my eating get away from me. On days when I work out, I am much more likely to stick to my goals. Go figure.

I think everyone has days/weeks/months like these. It’s normal. I read a bit about post-race depression and how common it is after a big race: it’s like there is a hole where the race was occupying for so long. Clearly, I am trying to fill that hole with food.

But I’ll let myself have this week–just this one. I did run a half marathon after all. But once this week is over, I really need to settle back into a set routine. The weather is beautiful and I am wasting these perfect running days by being lazy and sitting around on the couch. (I am, however, getting lots of reading done!)

Sadly, before I can build up a running routine again, I am really going to need a goal to work toward. And probably to learn more about running in general. Next thing to add to my reading list: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami.

 

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Filed under Fooding, Living the Dream, Running