I've tried to become a runner several times in my life, but running and I have an on-again, off-again relationship. On paper, running should be my sport of choice. I'm the type of person who doesn't mind being alone. I find satisfaction in setting and attaining personal goals. I prefer exercising outdoors where I can take in the scenery and fresh air (though, "fresh air" is a relative term in Los Angeles). The flaw is that I can't seem to adopt the daily routine of running — the elusive element that is the key to becoming a full-fledged runner.
Recently, I picked up Haruki Murakami's memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I purchased the slim novel on a whim, hoping to finally figure out how to become a runner and maybe even a better writer. Although it made me anxious that Murakami asserted, "Most of what I know about writing I've learned through running everyday," I decided to give running a try again anyway and proceeded to dust off my Nikes.
For the duration of six consecutive days, I resolved to read a chunk of Murakami's memoir, then run for 30 minutes and document the experience. Maybe I could kill two birds with one stone and become a real runner and a better writer. I realize this is a lot to ask of a memoir that's under 200 pages, but it's worth a shot.
Day of Purchase
Monday, June 22, 2015
Today, I bought Murakami's memoir and read the first couple chapters. I got a little too excited when he began revealing the music he runs to and made a playlist based on his recommendations. I couldn't help myself.
Personally, I gravitate toward hip-hop or rap when I run (it's a time when the more profanity a song has, the better), but The Lovin' Spoonful's upbeat songs seemed worth a try. If it's good enough for the author of Kafka on the Shore, then it's certainly good enough for me.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
This evening I ran for 30 minutes for the first time since March 31, according to RunKeeper. Needless to say, it was a struggle. At about the halfway mark the aching in my quads was pretty significant. While contemplating if I could realistically manage to do this for five more days, I snapped this picture.
So, it wasn't all bad. Actually, it was mostly good. I achieved the peaceful, thoughtless void that accompanies running and enjoyed these moments of clear mindedness. In fact, I found a direct correlation between the soreness of my legs and the clearness of my mind: The more sore my legs, the clearer my mind.
The Lovin' Spoonfuls' "Daydream" seemed like an appropriate song to start and end my first run of the week with, upbeat and poignant for the occasion. I came home and immediately lay on the floor, but after I stretched, I felt optimistic about the next few days.
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
I made a mistake. I had eager legs yesterday and tried to pick up where I left off in March, attempting to match my pace and distance as if it hadn't been nearly three months since I hit the pavement.
So, today I did what I should have done yesterday and ran intervals during my 30 minute run. Unfortunately, it was not a day for The Lovin' Spoonfuls. I was in need of some serious motivation in the form of Run the Jewels.
The second half of my route has the slightest incline to it, but today it felt more like an insurmountable challenge. I ended up walking longer than I would have liked, extending my cool down by about 3 minutes.
Thursday, June 25, 2015
It was surprisingly easier to maintain a decent pace today than it was yesterday, despite my quads protesting every step of the way. So far, I've run 7.3 miles this week, which is respectable enough for me.
I started seeing some familiar characters, an inevitable result of running the same route at the same time of day. The lady walking her Doberman, the dad playing basketball with his two kids at the local school playground, the paramedics who work at the UCLA medical building nearby.
Today was the first day I came home and didn't immediately lay down on the floor and dramatically groan in pain while reaching for my laptop. I can be quoted as saying, "I regret everything," on Day 2.
Friday, June 26, 2015
Today, I left for my ran later than I did the previous three days, leaving my apartment at about 8:40, so all the familiar faces I saw yesterday were nowhere to be seen. But, it was pleasant to run during late dusk and have the sidewalk mostly to myself. However, I did share the sidewalk with a cockroach at one point, which seemed very appropriate.
Tonight was the first time I felt like my muscles were actually being trained into submission, learning what's expected of them during a daily run routine. I finally felt like I was growing stronger during my run rather than struggling to take the next stride.
Saturday, June 27, 2015
It was significantly harder to leave the house and go for a run today than it was the other days (I blame the weekend). Nevertheless, I finally peeled myself off the couch, away from a mini-binge of "The Office" on Netflix and went for a 30-minute run.
I was hardly sore at all from yesterday's run, which was a delightful surprise. For obvious reasons, this made the whole experience more enjoyable.
Maybe it was because it was the weekend, but there were hardly any people out and about tonight. This lent a peaceful air to the street and made it easy to concentrate on staring at the horizon while listening to my upbeat Murakami Workout playlist.
Sunday, June 28, 2015
Sunday, also known as the day I've been waiting for since Day 1. The final day I designated for my strict Murakami workout.
I thought I'd feel more relieved when this six-day, self-inflicted challenge was over, but I'm actually motivated to continue running daily. Maybe it's the runner's high talking, but there's something about sticking to a routine, honing my focus and improving my endurance that makes lacing up my Nikes every night worth it.
If able to choose his own gravestone inscription, Murakami revealed at the end of his memoir that he would like his to read:
Writer (and Runner)
At Least He Never Walked
At this point, mine would probably read:
Writer (and Netflix Watcher)
At Least She Occasionally Got Off the Couch
Maybe I'll get there. I have no idea if I can actually keep up the routine of running daily, but it's worth a try.