Audiobook Review: ‘What I Talk About When I Talk About Running’ by Haruki Murakami

Times are not the only measure of running.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a memoir chronicling the famous Japanese author’s reflections on a running season. I have read a number of Murakami’s novels and find him an intriguing writer and translator. Rather than focusing on times or performances, his story relays his thoughts, observations and fears during his stays in Hawaii and Massachusetts in the USA and near Tokyo, Japan.

Running should reflect you as a person.

Murakami explains how he started running at the age of 33 and details running a marathon in Athens, an ultramarathon and a triathlon.

He defines himself as a serious runner because of the regular distance he runs, his focus on self-improvement and his decision to race at least once a year.

He reveals how he often runs with a specific mental void and runs further when dealing with personal issues. He admits he naps during the day and that running is not for everyone and should suit the person’s personality.

He finds maintaining a rhythm vital for long-term projects such as marathon training and racing. His tips for training include gradually increasing mileage per week, never taking two rest days in a row and that peak exhaustion should be a month before a race.

He remains honest in recounting poor performances and periods where he fell out of love with running.

Develop a long-term strategy for your running.

I find it interesting that he views running as a metaphor for life; the purpose is to endure and to enjoy the journey. I can relate to his difficulty in writing and structuring a book on running.

I agree with him that there is a close relationship between running and writing, and appreciate that the title is a homage to a particular writer that has influenced me, Raymond Carver. Other intriguing aspects of the book include Murakami’s musical influences and early life before he became a published and successful author.

He believes that to succeed as a novelist and runner, talent, focus and endurance must be present.


This was the first audiobook I listened to and is one of my favourites. I recommend it to anyone who wants a relatively quick insight into running and writing by a man who is highly experienced in both.

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