Earlier this year I committed myself to running. As a
former current class unco, I am not a natural athlete and any form of physical activity is skin to splitting the atom. But somehow and only very recently, through all that physical ineptitude, I found a love for running. There is something so deliciously addictive about running that suits my ‘all or nothing’ personality – it’s a solo sport, can be done any time and does not require hand/ eye co-ordination (an essential element I can assure you). In February this year I signed up for Sydney’s City 2 Surf. This 14km run is iconic for its beautiful landscape and its gruelling course. As I worked towards this distance, my new love became mildly compulsive. This addiction did not abate as with each further distance run, a greater sense of achievement was felt. Along with this sense of triumphalism were other benefits – I was fitter, trimmer and happier. Oh yes, never before known endorphins started to rise up through the fog urging me to run further and faster with a fixated fortitude. My first competitive fun run was a cheeky 5.6km. From there I upgraded to 10km knowing that the big mama was to come in August.
While running is very much a solo activity, it has surprisingly social side effects. A whole cohort of fellow obsessives were opened up to me. They understood splits and stims and were always available for a chat about training plans and other running truisms. Running paradoxically soon became a team sport.
Eight months of training later, my dreams of suburban glory were all over at the 10 km where I injured myself. I hobbled to the finish line and headed directly for the First Aid tent. My injury I was soon to learn is colloquially referred to as “runner’s knee”. The only reprieve through my physical and mental pain was that I did not suffer a layperson’s injury. No, this was a hunky dory fair dinkum running injury complete with a king’s ransom’s worth of physio bills. Amateurs need not apply.
The road through my recovery has been long and tedious with many setbacks. I am not completely recovered and long-term my knee will need to be ‘managed’: this condition will follow me like Voldemort’s shadow. But my running journey is not over. I have set myself a goal of half-marathon next year (my physio rubbing his hands knowing his future plans of a shiny new sports car are now secure).
To prepare for this *cough* epic feat, I have given up the Vogues and Harper’s BAZAARs and started buying running-specific magazines. Titles such as Runner’s World, Women’s Running and good ole Running are now added to my literary staple. So I was somewhat bemused when in one of the aforementioned issues, there was a book review section. Among ‘How to Be a Better Runner’ and ‘Running with Kenyans’ a title leapt out to me like an escaped inmate – What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.
Haruki Murakami. A name I can never pronounce with novels that always leave me feeling painfully inadequate, Murakami is a master of the literary tome. His prose is sublimely intoxicating with hauntingly complex characters and engaging plots.
Murakami. Is. A. Runner.
Totally obsessed. Like me. OMG. I nearly fell off my chair (carefully so as not to further damage my dodgy knee).
He gets it.
He lives it.
He loves it.
He writes it.
He runs with other writers! He ran with John Irving! In Central Park!
He runs daily. Every. Single. Day.
He counts his miles and keeps lists of his distances.
I have found my soul mate.