Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's a Blessing ... and a Curse

A few weeks ago, I bought a book about running for Keith, since he was in the midst of marathon training. It wasn't a training manual, though, but more of a writer's thoughts about the act of running. In What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami ruminates on what running has meant to him throughout his life, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Why does he consider himself a runner? What does that mean? What traits set runners apart from others?

How do I know that's what the book is about, when it was a present for Keith? Because I gave it to him, and promptly stole it off his nightstand and started reading it. Keith did steal it back a few days later, so I'm not very far into it. But I've already read quite a few ideas that have stuck with me.

In particular, Murakami talks about why he started running regularly. Pretty much, when he quit tending bar and started writing full-time, he also started to put on some weight and wasn't happy about it. Unlike his wife, who could eat whatever she wanted and never gain a pound, he sat at a computer all day and his waist was expanding. So he started running.

This is pretty typical. What I found refreshing—and challenging—was how he turned his slowing metabolism and new-found love for running into such a positive. He argued that those of us (and I am definitely included in this group) whose bodies are more sensitive to bad influences like the lack of exercise and an overabundance of unhealthy food are actually the lucky ones. We have motivation to change our bad habits because we dislike the way we look and feel. People whose bodies don't reflect their unhealthy lifestyle are much less likely to change, and will be more unhealthy in the long run. In Murakami's words:
But when I think about it, having the kind of body that easily puts on weight was perhaps a blessing in disguise [....] Life can be tough, but as long as you don't stint on the effort, your metabolism will greatly improve with these habits, and you'll end up much healthier, not to mention stronger [....] For the reasons I give above, I think this physical nuisance should be viewed in a positive way, as a blessing. We should consider ourselves lucky that the red light is so clearly visible. Of course, it's not always so easy to see things this way.
I agree with so much about this attitude. Both that it's healthy and affirmative to see my body's sensitivity to food and exercise as a blessing .... and that it's a very difficult attitude to maintain. I'm working on it.


Bren said...

Wow that's an interesting twist on it. I too am one of the "lucky" ones, although I've always thought it was unlucky that I was so susceptible to such things. Thanks for that thought!! Quite inspiring really.

I still haven't taken up running seriously - but I've been biking to work for the last 6 months or more towing my son behind (see My blog for pics of our trailer). I've kind of plateaued now so need to do more, but since starting riding I've lost about 10kg (sorry - talking metric!) which is awesome. Still got about another 10 to go, so your words have quite possibly given me the paradigm shift I needed to get off my bum and do more!

M. Lubbers said...

Bren: Congrats with the bike riding and weight loss! Keep it up!