The Age That Jesus Christ Died

I finished the Murakami book, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, this past week. A review is in order.

I’ll just say this: everything I know about running, I learned from Murakami.

With less than two months of running, everything might not be a lot at this point – essentially two basic rules to live by that I hope are enough to get me to the next stage:

  1. Talk to your muscles and show them who’s the boss
  2. …I never take two days off in a row. Muscles are like work animals that are quick in the uptake…As long as you explain your expectations to them by actually showing them examples of the amount of work they have to endure, your muscles will comply and gradually get stronger…If, however, the load halts for a few days, the muscles will automatically assume they don’t have to work that hard anymore, and they lower their limits.

    My biggest problem has been breathing (i.e., weak heart and lungs), but after reading this, I’ve tried to run everyday (before that we’d run every other day). I figured my lungs and heart could learn a thing or two from my muscles. And I think they have. They’re a good team those three (or four, if you count two lungs…or five, if you count me in there somewhere). We ran 2.74 miles yesterday.

    Except…I just read in an online forum that running everyday might not be the healthiest way to go. So today, we’re taking a break. It will be a long day.

  3. Always remember why you run

If I used being busy as an excuse not to run, I’d never run again. I have only a few reasons to keep on running, and a truckload of them to quit. All I can do is keep those few reasons nicely polished.

I have to be fair and say that I have not found a truckload of reasons to quit running so far. It’s been the other way around. There are a million reasons to run: health, fun, having quality time with Dan and Zeus, fresh air, etc. But I know myself all too well. I know that there will come a point when I will say “OK, I’ve proved I can do this, now up to the next challenge.” I just hope that point gets here later rather than sooner.

Simple rules, right? But, what’s so wrong with simple? Nothing. (Just ask Zeus.)

All in all, an enjoyable book, as essay-ish books go.

The best part was how, at one point, Murakami hit eerily close to home:

When I first started running I couldn’t run long distances. I could only run for about twenty minutes, or thirty. That much left me panting, my heart pounding, my legs shaky…Af first, I was also a little embarrassed to have people in the neighborhood see me running…The main thing was not the speed or distance so much as running every day, without taking a break.

Those sentences might very well have been written by me – word for word – and reading them made me feel all nice inside. It was as if Murakami himself was saying there’s nothing inherently wrong with me. It’s perfectly normal to struggle at the beginning and to even be a bit embarrassed about that struggle. It’s perfectly normal to be content with just running everyday, regardless of how long I’ve ran. I’m normal.

Murakami was 33 years old when he started running. The age that Jesus Christ died, he wrote. “Still young enough, though no longer a young man.” I am 33 myself. Murakami says that age might be a kind of crossroads in life. For me, it might very well be.

(Photo credit: Daniel “that was my idea” Macht)


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