What I Talk About When I Talk About Running Summary

Haruki Murakami


Haruki Murakami is a successful and prolific author of both short stories and novels. But he is also a successful marathon runner, having run one marathon each year since he began running at age thirty-three in 1982. In his nonfiction book, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Murakami not only recounts his experiences as a runner of marathons, triathlons, and 62-mile ultramarathons but also his reflections on the process of writing. In an interview with Heidi Benson for the San Francisco Chronicle, Murakami said that running and writing were "parallel thing[s] in me."

Though this book has been classified as a memoir, Murakami states that he did not set out to write a memoir. Rather, he looked upon his endeavor as a sort of runner's journal. And since writing and running are so closely associated in his mind, he uses each to help him better understand the other. For example, he says that for both long-distance running and for writing novels, one must have talent, focus, and endurance. The better he trains for running, therefore, the better he is equipped to take on the arduous process of writing a novel.

Murakami has run the Boston Marathon, the New York Marathon, and the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon multiple times, just to mention a few, and has written twelve novels and numerous short stories. He clearly has vast experience in both arenas, and his reflections inspire both runners and writers, as he describes the challenges and the rewards of both activities. In the process, readers learn about Murakami's daily routines, his diet, his training practices, and a little about his private life, including his marriage. The author also shares some of his philosophical thoughts about life, creativity, and pushing oneself toward higher goals.