Monday, November 24, 2008

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

My sister was kind enough to hand off this book to me after she had finished it. A short book that has a seemingly narrow focus on the author's running and thoughts, his running takes on a larger meaning to himself and his work. It was enjoyable, particularly its snippets of running wisdom, that all semi-serious runners will recognize. His friend's mantra of, "pain is inevitable, suffering is optional" is a good aphoristic example. This paragraph struck a cord:

People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they'll go to any length to live longer. But I 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 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, for writing as well. I believe many runners would agree.

The writer is a renowned Japanese author, and this small book has been translated from the Japanese. I found there to be the occasional awkward phrasing, and the language sometimes feels a bit stilted, but these are small contentions I will chalk up to being lost in translation. Overall, despite the copy editor being asleep the odd time, a book worth taking on.

If you run in my circles, this book just may end up in your hands.

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