Wednesday, January 08, 2014

wintry wednesday

I really, really hate having a cold. But the mental/emotional fog of yesterday has lifted, and although my stuffy/runny nose and light cough remind me that I'm not 100% healthy, my boosted mood is almost enough to overcome it. I fully intend to feel better tomorrow, after another good night of sleep.

I finished Haruki Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk about Running, and it is a book that rambled delightfully on, yet held together as a cohesive whole, like an essayist's memoir, or a memoir inspired by essays. Either way, if you want a well-written book about life and writing and running, this is the book for you--so often, books about running are fairly interesting, but not the most stylistically advanced. This book, while not one that will teach you things about running, is wonderfully thoughtful and polished that I can't not love it.

I wasn't able to run today because I didn't figure mixing running in the rain with fighting a cold was a very good idea, but finishing this book made me twitchy to get my feet back on the pavement tomorrow.

I will give you a few more tidbits that I had to mark as I read because they were so striking, and they so perfectly capture some of my own thoughts about running.

This quotation captures my attitude about running--I do it because I really, really like it, and I think other people should run only if they also really like it. Otherwise, find something else that you enjoy, like walking or swimming or biking or zumba or barre3 or ...
When I tell people I run every day, some are quite impressed. "You really must have a strong will," they sometimes tell me. Of course it's nice to be praised like this. A lot better than being disparaged, that's for sure. But I don't think it's merely willpower that makes you able to do something. The world isn't that simple. To tell the truth, I don't even think there's much correlation between my running every day and whether or not I have a strong will. I think I've been able to run for more than twenty years for a simple reason: It suits me. Or at least because I don't find it all that painful. Human beings naturally continue doing things they like, and they don't continue what they don't like. Admittedly, something close to will does play a small part in that. But no matter how strong a will a person has, no matter how much he may hate to lose, if it's an activity he doesn't really care for, he won't keep it up for long. Even if he did, it wouldn't be good for him. (43-44)
This I just liked because he sneers at the running naysayers (I'd add to the list the people who say anything about how I'm killing my knees or any other bit of me). Also, it offers a reason why runners run that's beyond exercise and health and goes much deeper than simply staying in good shape:
People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they'll go to any length to live longer. But I don't think that's the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you're going to while away the years, it's far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive than in a fog, and I believe running helps you do that. 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. I believe many runners would agree. (82-83)
I like to run marathons not just because they are challenging, but on some level because I get enjoyment out of them:
Liz, who looks after my books at knopf, sends me an email. She's also going to run the New York City Marathon, in what will be first full marathon. "Have a good time!" I email back. And that's right: for a marathon to mean anything, it should be fun. Otherwise, why would thousands of people run 26.2 miles? (134)
And, finally, a good thing to keep in mind when my body starts slowing down, and I stop being able to run as fast and set awesome PRs:
There's one thing, though, I can state with confidence: until the feeling that I've done a good job in a race returns, I'm going to keep running marathons, and not let it get me down. Even when I grow old and feeble, when people warn me it's about time to throw in the towel, I won't care. As long as my body allows, I'll keep on running. Even if my time gets worse, I'll keep on putting in as much effort--perhaps even more effort--toward my goal of finishing a marathon. I don't care what others say--that's just my nature, the way I am. Like scorpions sting, cicadas cling to trees, salmon swim upstream to where they were born, and wild ducks mate for life. (149)
What an enjoyable book. Any of you all have any other running book suggestions for me?

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