What I talk about when I talk about Running – some thoughts on the book.

I love the way Huruki Marakami writes. What I have done in this blog is to take one of his passages and comment on it. The rest of the blog contains quotes from his book.

what I talk

The relationship between a runner and running is a complex one. I see it every day when an injured runner comes to see me. There is a look of despair, a sense of mourning, as if they have lost something incredibly important to them.

Huruki Marakami quite possibly expresses this complex relationship between runner and running better than any author that I have come across. The man is a wordsmith and runner of the highest order.

Perhaps the most profound quote is this one:

“I just run. I run in void. Or maybe I should put it the other way: I run in order to acquire a void.”


It’s the second part of the above sentence that is pertinent to me. I find that void comes at the 6 km mark for me on most runs. A sense of quiet, a sense of something being peeled off, something that I was not aware of until it was taken off. I get the same sense, about 18 km into a longer run. We live in a loud world, social media, politicians, divided opinions, information overload, the list is endless. That’s why the ‘void’ has become so important to me.

Although not in the book, Sir Roger Bannister also made the following statement, “The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom”. I think that both Marakami and Bannister touched on the same point.

Here are some other gems from Marakami –

  • Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
  • “The most important thing we learn at school is the fact that the most important things can’t be learned at school.”
  • “So the fact that I’m me and no one else is one of my greatest assets. Emotional hurt is the price a person has to pay in order to be independent.”
  • “I’m the kind of person who likes to be by himself. To put a finer point on it, I’m the type of person who doesn’t find it painful to be alone. I find spending an hour or two every day running alone, not speaking to anyone, as well as four or five hours alone at my desk, to be neither difficult nor boring. I’ve had this tendency ever since I was young, when, given a choice, I much preferred reading books on my own or concentrating on listening to music over being with someone else. I could always think of things to do by myself.”
  • “People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they’ll go to any length to live longer. But 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 to 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, writing as whole. I believe many runners would agree”
  • “All I do is keep on running in my own cozy, homemade void, my own nostalgic silence. And this is a pretty wonderful thing. No matter what anybody else says.”
  • “I’m often asked what I think about as I run. Usually the people who ask this have never run long distances themselves. I always ponder the question. What exactly do I think about when I’m running? I don’t have a clue.”
  • “When I’m running I don’t have to talk to anybody and don’t have to listen to anybody. This is a part of my day I can’t do without.”
  • “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Say you’re running and you think, ‘Man, this hurts, I can’t take it anymore. The ‘hurt’ part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand anymore is up to the runner himself.”
  • “To keep on going, you have to keep up the rhythm.”
  • “It doesn’t matter how old I get, but as long as I continue to live I’ll always discover something new about myself.”
  • “I’ll be happy if running and I can grow old together.”

Hope you enjoyed some of these quotes, and that you get to read his work at some stage.

See you on the road,

Mike Roscoe.



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