Friday, June 13, 2008

Why to Run

When people find out I run a lot, they often ask why. I don't know the answer to give them. One of the big reasons I like it is that it's very divorced from modern life. We don't really need to exert ourselves much anymore. For all our complaints, life is pretty easy. The other week, the New Yorker published a great essay from the Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami about his running. He runs every day without fail. The story is an interesting attempt to pinpoint how running is a central part of his quest to simplify his existence. He fell into it, a chance encounter after many years of late nights as a jazz club owner. I think lots of people who run have these chance encounters. I know I did, when for reasons unclear in retrospect, I decided one day to run around a small park in Washington DC in 1998. Haruki says this about it:
If someone has an interest in long-distance running, he'll start running on his own. If he's not interested, no amount of persuasion will make any difference. Marathon running is not a sport for everyone, just as being a novelist isn't a job for everyone. Nobody ever recommended or suggested that I become a novelist -- in fact, some tried to stop me. I simply had the idea to be one, and that's what I did. Poeple become runners because they're meant to.

1 comment:

Ben Kunz said...

I'd like to see your advice for people who are a middle-class of running advocates -- enjoy it, but will never do the marathon. How do we get to say 10 miles at a decent pace?

I've been working out for years and just started running last fall when a friend introduced me to Nikeplus. Busy job, 2 kids, long hours, and it's very hard to stay focused. It's easier to jump rope for 25 minutes, or do quick weights, or get on a bike.

I enjoy running ... but feel a marathon will never be possible.

Is there an interim level/goal/program you recommend? What can inspire the middle class?