The author is so passionate about running that he says in the preface that
“Writing honestly about running and writing honestly about myself are one and the same thing. So I suppose its all right to read this as a kind of memoir centered on the act of running”
So, in that sense , this book is about a person who is deeply immersed in writing and running that he finds both the activities to be contemplative, meditative acts that ultimately reflects his life.Isn’t it true that whenever we do any activity over a long period of time, the process and the results reflect what we are.
From a hacker’s point of view, If you have looked at source codes of other programmers, you can easily see various personalities emerging out of the code. Inevitable personality traits like impatience , persistence, terse, boorishness, diligence, recklessness, brashness etc are evident by carefully looking at let’s say about 200 lines of code. However very few of us would however take the effort to express themselves through the work they do. It is not necessary also to always express one self through a piece of work. But somehow, the best works of art, best software written , best movies made, some of the best sportsmen in the world always leave their personality in the work they do. Well, I am way way digressing from the intent of the post.
I will try to summarize some of the points that I found interesting in the way they are written :
- Pain is inevitable, Suffering is Optional
- I stop everyday right at the point where I feel I can write more. Do that, and the next day’s work goes surprisingly smoothly. (Ernest Hemingway is supposed of have used this trick to be in the rhythm).
- Most ordinary runners are motivated by an individual goal , more than anything; namely , a time they want to beat. As long as he can beat that time, a runner will feel he’s accomplished what he set out to do, and if he can’t , then he’ll feel he hasn’t. Even if he doesn’t break the time he’d hoped for, as long as he has the sense of satisfaction at having done his very best – and possibly, having made some significant discovery about himself in the process – then that itself is an accomplishment, a positive feeling he can carry over to the next race
- A writer has a quiet, inner motivation and doesn’t seek validation in the outwardly visible
- In long distance running, the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be
- I’m the kind of person who likes to be by himself. To put a finer point on it, I’m the type of person who doesn’t find it painful to be alone. I find spending an hour or two every day running alone, not speaking to anyone, as well as four to five hours alone at my desk to be neither difficult not boring.
- As I run , I don’t think of anything worth mentioning. (Its a kind of meditative act)
- In certain areas of life, I actively seek solitude. Especially in my line of work , Solitude is an inevitable circumstance
- When I’m criticized unjustly, or when someone I’m sure will understand me doesn’t, I go for running for a little longer than usual. By running longer, its like I can physically exhaust that portion of my discontent. It also makes me realize how weak I am.
- If concentration is the process of just holding your breath, endurance is the art of slowly, quietly breathing at the same time you’re storing air in your lungs.Unless you can find a balance between both, it’ll be difficult to write novels professionally over a long time. Continuing to breathe while you hold your breath.
- the great mystery writer Raymond Chandler once confessed that even if he didn’t write anything, he made sure he sat down at his desk every single day and concentrated. I understand the purpose behind his doing this.This is the way Chandler gave himself the physical stamina a professional writer needs, quietly strengthening his willpower. This sort of daily training was indispensable to him.
- Most of what I know about writing I’ve learned through running every day. These are practical, physical lessons. How much can I push myself? How much rest is appropriate—and how much is too much? How far can I take something and still keep it decent and consistent? When does it become narrow-minded and inflexible? How much should I be aware of the world outside, and how much should I focus on my inner world? To what extent should I be confident in my abilities, and when should I start doubting myself? I know that if I hadn’t become a long-distance runner when I became a novelist, my work would have been vastly different. How different? Hard to say. But something would have definitely been different.
- Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life—and for me, for writing as well. I believe many runners would agree.
- Muscles are hard to get and easy to lose. Fat is easy to get and hard to lose.
- It’s pretty thin, the wall separating healthy confidence and unhealthy pride.
- The most important thing we ever learn at school is the fact that the most important things can’t be learned at school.