What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

What I talk about when I talk about writing by Haruki Murakami - Book Review by Ishan Shanavas

Book Notes – In this series, I share my insights, ideas, and reviews of my favourite books, whose topics are wide-ranging.

Rating – 7/10

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Amazon Link

Book Compressed into 3 Points

  • The book dives into how long-distance running affects the author’s daily life.
  • It explores the author’s philosophy on how interlinked running and writing are.
  • It is a training log in preparation for a marathon, but it shows how the training affects his thoughts and vice versa.

Who is it for?

  • Long-distance runners (or potential runners) would like to see the different perks of running beyond the physical.
  • Anyone looking to understand the psyche of a long-distance runner.
  • Anyone looking for deeper meanings in long-distance running.
  • Fans of Murakami’s distinctive writing style.

3 Favourite Quotes

  • Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional
  • My time, the rank I attain, my outward appearance—all of these are secondary. For a runner like me, what’s really important is reaching the goal I set myself, under my own power. I give it everything I have, endure what needs enduring, and am able, in my own way, to be satisfied. From out of the failures and joys I always try to come away having grasped a concrete lesson. And I hope that, over time, as one race follows another, in the end, I’ll reach a place I am content with. Or maybe just catch a glimpse of it.
  • I didn’t start running because somebody asked me to become a runner. Just like I didn’t become a novelist because someone asked me to. One day, out of the blue, I wanted to write a novel. And one day, out of the blue, I started to run—simply because I wanted to. I’ve always done whatever I felt like doing in life. People may try to stop me, and convince me I’m wrong, But I won’t change.


  • Murakami talks about journeys in his life, linking them to the calmness he receives through running.
  • He talks about the physical and emotional pain he experiences in marathons and how overcoming them has moulded him as a person.
  • He has his physical limitations and realizes that he cannot overcome them. So he graciously accepts his fate.
  • He recognizes the toll age has on his body, seeing that his progress is hindered as he grows older. Nevertheless, he pushes on.
  • He finds that running, just like writing, is a contemplative and meditative act. 
  • He acknowledges that one cannot be a regular runner, as life can be busy at times.
  • He does not care about beating others in a marathon; just like most runners, he is motivated by a personal goal.
  • He connects this to writing; there is no winning or losing in writing. What matters is whether the writing attains the standards he sets for himself.
  • He finds a particular joy in solitude, for he does not care much about group activities like team sports.


  • A very short read, this book can be finished in a few days.
  • Written in Murakami’s distinct slow, deliberative style, the book is introspective and makes you think. The style is fairly easy to read, with no particular age bar.
  • There were moments when it felt a little slow. The author likes to take his time when making a point. I won’t say it is to everyone’s taste.
  • As a long-distance runner myself, I could relate to much of the meditative effects he described. Running positively impacts so many aspects of my life, from emotions to my thought process. It gave me a newfound appreciation for the reflective aspect of long-distance running.

If you found this insightful, consider subscribing! You’ll sign up for my personal newsletter, exclusive content and more!

Enter your email ID below. You will receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Once you confirm, sit back and enjoy content delivered right into your inbox. It’s free!

Subscribe here!

Published by Ishan Shanavas

I am a young adult, interested in nature, photography, art and culture. An aspiring polymath, I share my learnings through my blog. I also include insights from my favourite books.

2 thoughts on “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

  1. most of us can relate with the meditative effects of physical exercise. In fact, the calmness achieved by my one hour yoga stretches up to late evenings. Thanks for sharing this Ishaan.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: