I recently finished Haruki Murakami’s memoir ‘What I talk about when I talk about running’. Not only is Murakami a best selling novelist but he is also a marathon runner and in this book he documents his preparation for the New York City Marathon. While preparing, Murakami reflects on his career and his enduring relationship with running.
Its a short book, not difficult to read and I quite liked it. Before reading it I had the misguided idea that it might inspire me to get out and run. If anything it made me recognise that I will never be a die hard runner like Murakami. Admittedly I don’t think he was looking to convert his readers to the cult of running, he was just writing about what running is to him. Reading about that made me think about my relationship with running.
Running tends to be a love hate thing for a lot of people. I would say that my relationship with running has improved over the years but it remains a complicated one. I detested running as a kid, I can still remember the inside twisting pain it used to give me. In school running races I would shuffle along near the back of the group feeling my whole body shudder uncomfortably with every pace. Even though I felt as though I was going to die, I never trailed at the very back with the walkers, I always ran.
Entering in my teens I became conscious of my ever changing, ever expanding body and decided to up my exercise intake. I grew up in a small New Zealand town and if you wanted exercise and you weren’t playing a team sport, you got outside and ran. So that was what I did, I ran small distances at first but slowly built that up. My running continued off and on into university and then into working life, fit in around playing other sports and stretches of inactivity.
After years of forcing myself to run it has become easier, when I step out for a run my muscles know what to do, they know the pattern and the rhythm to follow and even if I haven’t been out in a while my body seems to be able to slip back into it.
Running does make me feel good. Last year I ran a half marathon and felt an amazing sense of achievement afterwards. I have also found that when I am facing big life decisions, going through difficult times or some kind of change, running helps me deal with it. I don’t know the science behind it, I guess it’s something do to with endorphins, but it seems to clear a bit of space in my head. When I am outside running I feel as though my normal 20 simultaneous thoughts slow down to few. It brings me some kind of peace and clarity and I sleep like a baby afterwards.
That is when the complicated part comes in, although running has become easier and I know it is good for me, I am not a consistent runner. I run for patches every year but many winter nights it is much more appealing to head straight home, cuddle my boyfriend, eat soup and read my book. Then in the summer it can seem too hot to go out and run. So I stay in doors and I don’t run. I suppose when it comes down to it I am just a bit lazy.
I think I have made peace with my laziness though and I have accepted that my relationship with running will always be on and off. Unlike Mr. Murakami I won’t be running a full marathon anytime soon, however I take comfort in the knowledge that if I need it running is there and it will always make me feel better and help me through whatever it is I am facing.