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There are three reasons I failed. Not enough training. Not enough training. And not enough training.
We are different, in essence, from other men. If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon.
Emil Zátopek, Czech long-distance runner
I train for good luck.
Arturo Barrios, Mexican long-distance runner
Even activities that appear fruitless don't necessarily end up so.
"I find," he said, "that one needs some one really pure single activity."
D H Lawrence, Women in Love
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a short book by the Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami. It is a real pleasure to read. I mentioned him in passing in my column Indigo Blue about the colour blue in Japanese culture. The title is an hommage to a book of short stories by Raymond Carver, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. Murakami's book is not a novel or a short story. It's a kind of notebook of his thoughts about running and writing and life. Some parts of it were originally written for magazines and it is very readable and very interesting. It is not really a book for runners but if you run you might appreciate it on a different level. Murakami writes very clearly and simply. He is honest about his running and about himself. He is very aware. And writing something down helps him to understand it.
Murakami talks about many things in the book. In a way it's almost like the thoughts running through his head while he's running a marathon. But the book has a structure linked to some of the races he has run and his preparation. He thinks that a writer needs three things. Ability. Then focus. And then endurance. He runs a marathon every year and sometimes does triathlons. He never recommends running. He just acknowledges that it suits his own personality.
I'm not a serious runner. I don't like the potential effect on my knees of millions of impacts of my feet on asphalt. But I run occasionally. If possible on soft surfaces like grass or sand. But I can feel strong parallels between Murakami's single-minded focus on running and my own journey in aikido and budo. Long distance running needs patience and determination. And as Murakami says, even if running is pointless or futile or inefficient finally it allows him to grasp something of value.
I was going to call this article what I talk about when I talk about What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. But my wife just gave me a look so now it's just called Silent Running. If you have a chance read the book. It is more interesting, more useful and more relevant to us as martial artists and as human beings than any book about aikido or budo published so far in the twenty-first century.
And Haruki Murakami's novel 1Q84 is published in English on 25 October 2011.
Silent Running, Mike and the Mechanics http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ddi2TBnzdPo
Silent Running was a song by Mike and the Mechanics. It's a cool title and a good song. The band was a side project of Mike Rutherford of Genesis.
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXMS5ZXKvYA
incidentally the background music is the hymn Jerusalem. So Jerusalem in the soundtrack of Chariots of Fire might also have been a reference to The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.