What I Talk About When I Talk About Running - Book Review

An interesting read for "runners who read" is What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

It is written by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami.

His work has been translated into over forty languages.

And he has received many prizes like the Franz Kafka Prize.

The Book

What I talk About When I Talk About Running Book Cover
So, what is the book about?

Murakami starts his story by telling he was a jazz bar owner. In 1982 he sold the jazz bar and became a full-time writer. He says he had an "unhealthy lifestyle". To balance things out, he starts running.

He has run a solo run from Athens to Marathon, over twenty-five marathons to date, a number of triathlons and an ultra-marathon of sixty-two miles in the north of Japan.

In this book Murakami reflects upon the influence running has had on his writing and on his life in general.

He is a middle of the pack runner who when he is "seriously running" as he puts it, does six miles six days a week. In the book he describes, amongst other things, his preparations for the New York City Marathon.

what i talk about when i talk about running

The interesting thing about this book is that Murakami seems to write about running, but really writes about himself: about the moment of truth when he decided to become a writer, about coming to terms with not being able to beat personal bests anymore after he turned fifty, etc.

This is a great book for runners who love reading a good book.

I loved the many moments of recognition I had when reading What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. Murakami describes some things very well, like the unwritten bond you have with people you meet every time you go for a run, the feeling people get in the past few miles of a marathon, the small battles you have in a race with certain people, the feeling of runner's blues, etc.

The stories about some of the races, like his run from Athens to Marathon and his 62 mile ultramarathon in the north of Japan are good short stories on their own in which you will recognize yourself if you have ever gone through gruelling race experiences.

what i talk about when i talk about runningAfter his ultramarathon he suffered from runner's blues for years and years.

It had that much of an impact on him.

And when you read the story about the race, you can sort of understand why.

(I guess you probably need to experience a race like that to truly understand).

In order to not spoil that part, you will have to get the book to read it!

His descriptions are interesting.

E.g. in his run from Athens to Marathon he describes a cat flattened by a car, "like some misshapen pizza".

He counts the number of dead cats and dogs on this road, questions, as you might do as welll when the going gets tough, why he ever got himself into this run, why the sun is so hot, etc.

I think you'll be able to relate to the writer in many parts of this book whereas non-runners will have a bit more difficulty with that.

In amongst it all are some good quotes and little lessons to be picked up. I love the quote in the preface of the book:

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

what i talk about when i talk about running
It is not his, a friend of his uses it as a mantra.

But it is a phrase that has stuck by me and I sometimes (m)utter internally when things get tough.

As said before, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is not all about running and it is at the same time.

At some points Murakami describes the process of writing a novel.

How painful it is to get the right words out.

And how it requires more from him than running or physical labour.

All in all this is a great book written by an interesting, humble, charming person.

There are people who have run only one marathon (don't get me wrong, a great effort) and go boasting about it until it drives you crazy.

Murakami has done over twenty-five and acts like it is nothing out of the ordinary.

Click here for more information about this book.

Running Book Reviews

daniels running formula
born to run book review
what i talk about when i talk about running
Home > Running Books > What I Talk About When I Talk About Running Book Review

Like this page:

Share this page:

Like this site:

[?] Subscribe To This Site

follow us in feedly
Add to My Yahoo!


  • Beginner Running Tips

    Are you a beginning runner? Then this is your best starting point. Many tips and running programs on offer, dedicated to you.

  • Running for Weight Loss

    Aiming to lose a few pounds? Get into the Running for Weight Loss section for tips and advice.

  • Running Training

    The Running Training section of the site has got the most articles. It is constantly getting updated with new tips and information. A must-visit if you are serious about improving your running performance.

  • 5k Running Tips

    The 5k is a great distance to run and train for. The great thing is that you can do it quite often and see big improvements.

  • 10k Running Tips

    The 10k is a real challenge. You need to run fast for an uncomfortably long time! Check out this section if you are strong of mind and legs!

  • Marathon Running Tips

    The marathon is a massive challenge. Proper training is so important! Make sure to check out this section if you have got your mind set on the marathon!

What's New?

  1. 8 Essential Distance Running Tips for Beginners

    New to distance running and looking for guidance? Look no further! On this page I have compiled 8 essential distance running tips for beginners that will get you off to a flying start!

    Read more

  2. Best Running Tips :: 10k Running Program for Beginners - A 12 Week Training Program for Your First 10k

    Check out the perfect 12-week 10k running program for beginners. This training program is guaranteed to get you ready for your first 10 k race!

    Read more

  3. What is the Right Running Technique?

    I have started using your Beginner Running Program 3 and I have a question about my running technique. I've never run before. I read on many running

    Read more

  4. 70 Years Old - Want to Start Running

    I am 70 years of age. Started on one of your beginner programs am now in Week 2. Really excited at the prospect of getting to run a 5k. I play golf

    Read more

  5. Five Tips for Running the Mile

    Want to improve your mile time? Here are some tips for running the mile that should help make you faster.

    Read more