So. I’m reading ‘What I talk about when I talk about running’ by Haruki Murakami. Have you heard of it? Its a really lovely, meditative read which makes me feel grounded and like I have space in my life and …yeah its a good read. It basically Murakami’s elegy to running, why he loves it, where he does it, how it makes him feel, how he got into it…but its, like, SO much more than that, man. You should read it.
So, I’m reading it and in it, Haruki is talking about how he handles that time honoured question which all runners face from non-runners – ‘What do you think about when you’re on a run? All that time, on the road? On your own? What’s in your head?’ And he answers ‘nothing’ – his mind goes nowhere – for him, the process of running allows him to switch off more successfully than any attempt at yoga or rhythmic breathing would do.
And I’m like SNAP! Me too! that’s what mine does! Once I get going, I just zonk out. I feel validated – like I’m in the club now because my mind goes nowhere when I run and so does Murakami’s. That’s not a coincidence. For long periods of time, we are zoned out together, just running. I’m already planning the joint interview in Runner’s world.
Just as I’m about to search flickr for potential photographers for a shoot in the Gobi dessert to accompany said article, I actually bother to finish reading the paragraph. Murakami is talking about the absence of thought for a period of HOURS, not minutes. He is running marathons in a state of blissful calm. I currently average about 25 minutes, tops – a mere powermince around a (rapidly decreasing) circumference patch of Hyde Park, before I start looking at pigeons and staring at other people who are running more succesfully than me.
I am calling off the shoot AND joint interview.
This summer I would like to attempt 10km – I currently manage 3.5 km. Its not a matter of stamina – its boredom – i simply cannot zone out for the required length of time (nothing to do with fitness, no, no) and this is what is holding me back from becoming a top class runner (nothing to do with haphazard training routine and trainers that were last fit for purpose when I was climbing up an apparatus wall in primary school ). No. Its to do with the ZONING OUT. My mental capacity is not sufficiently adjusted. Aha.
So I see 2 paths before me – do I push for it, follow Murakami’s example and press on through the boredom factor that mindless jogging involves? Or do I give up and sit on the sofa, where I find I can zone out successfully without the undue effort of moving my limbs in the open air?
To misquote Robert Frost, I choose the path more arduous. Not a massively bloggy choice is it? You were hoping perhaps for a list of inane telly viewed and junky activites engaged in, that prevent me from trying to get better at something and wrap me in a cynical knowing pop cultural bubble, where i talk only in phrases borrowed from old episodes of Blossom. Guess again. I am trying now to expand horizons – watch less shit, do more stuff.
Keep visiting – I promise to update and let you know how my aimless, unplanned and unclear manifesto for ‘being better’ is faring……including efforts at running and yoga and radio 4 and early nights and black and white films and learning spanish podcasts and all that honest improvement type of stuff…