Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Signs of Recovery


Haruki Murakami, a prolific Japanese fiction author, is also a runner. His book, What I talk About When I Talk About Running, is non-fiction. It's not a Garminesque recitation of miles, average and max heart rate, GPS route, comparison to last time but more like an engraver's plate designed to leave a pointilist impression.

Writing and running are alike. Each requires, word after word, step after step, over and over and over. Each requires stamina. The same things that make Murakami a consistent runner are what make him a good writer. At least, that's the impression I'm left with months after reading the book. Show up a the desk for a certain amount of time, put in a certain number of miles with the pen.

Bart Yasso's book, My Life on the Run, is completely different (and a surprise gift for Christmas - thank you Paul and Kathryn!). Whereas much of Murakami's story is solitary, most of Bart's is spent in the company of other people. He developed the Runner's World Sponsorship Program which is probably not suprising for such a people person. Yasso also invented the Yasso 800's, a complex equivalence between 10 repeats of 800s with a 400 jog in between and predicted marathon time. Consistent 5 minute 800s mean a 5 hour marathon time, give or take a hill or heat.  From his autobiography, I was astounded to learn that such a devoted runner of all kinds of races including ultras has had Lyme's disease for much of his career. Yet he persists.

My recent injury has shown me that I'll never be fast but with healing, Murakami-like consistency and Bart's persistent example, I can finish with gratitude that amounts to worship.

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