Review: What I Talk about When I Talk about Running

“In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.” Haruki Murakami

The book translated from Japanese by Philip Gabriel describes itself as “equal parts travelogue, memoir, and training log” and after reading it, it certainly slots into all these categories. Murakami details key episodes in his running life including his long-distance feats in Athens, Boston, Hokkaido, New York, Tokyo, Kanagawa, and Niigata. Before reading this book, I had no idea the Japanese novelist was even a runner. Also, forget the self-destructive writer stereotype. Murakami proves that writers have to be healthy in order to write better. He writes in a very conversational style so the book is very easy to get into in the beginning. However, he confesses that the book was written in snatches over two years and as it unfolds, it does feel piecemeal at times. Overall, however, I think the book gives great insight into the man called Murakami as well as the rigors of running and the writing life.