The Murakami Challenge

I have recently been re-reading Haruki Murakami’s classic running memoir as an inspiration to keep running in a very busy time of year, and with no major running goals looming in the horizon. I am not going to review the book here, but suffice it to say that it is a must if you are in a running rut and you also happen to like Murakami’s writing.

To keep things practical, last week, which was half term week, I set myself the concrete challenge of running like Murakami does in his book. His prescription? An hour a day, six days a week. This is his definition of ‘serious running’. For him it corresponds to six miles a day, six days a week. Thirty six miles a week, 156 miles a month.

I thought why not? I can try and do that for one week and see what it feels like. Run free, run as I feel, no worries in my mind, no specific training plan. Run by feel an hour a day. I had the childcare resources in place (thank you Mom!)

I was in Nea Makri, back in Greece,  so I could run on some of my favorite routes that I miss the rest of the year.  I could also arrange to run with friends and my brother a couple of times, and the last running day of the challenge I did the Olympic Stadium Run, a 10k run starting and finishing within the Olympic Stadium in Athens, a rare treat and a unique experience.

Running with friends Zinia and Nikos on the coast of Nea Makri.

The total for the week ended up being 66km, a really good mileage for me in a non-marathon training week so I am pretty pleased with that. Most of these were at about 9min/mile pace, so not really high quality, but I always had the excuse to myself that I am still one month after the Berlin marathon, so really building my base for the next race.

Running around the Athens Olympic Stadium was a unique experience.

The goal I had for the end of the week was to manage a 8mi/mile pace at the Olympic Stadium run and do this as a sort of tempo run, at the end of what was essentially a slow week. I just about managed that, so I can’t really complain (although I dislike being 4th in my category, as I was). I did momentarily wonder if I could have gotten 3rd had I pushed the pace just a bit. However, for various reasons (mainly lack of sleep and asthma), that Sunday I also felt I was not in good form.

A wet and misty Imittos.
Athens seems so far away.

It was good to do a week of good mileage and no worries about pace. I would like to keep running at these levels for a bit, although this week is proving to be tough already. One day lost due to travel, and then the sudden onset of very cold weather is definitely making it hard to go and run at the moment. A bit of acclimatising is certainly needed.

The morale of the story? What follows after a running challenge can be just as challenging!

The children enjoyed watching the 28th of October school parade. They don’t get the chance to experience OXI day very often.
Flying to Greece, a sense of expectation looming in the air.





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2 thoughts on “The Murakami Challenge

  1. I remember reading that book a while ago – one of my favorite Japanese authors! Let us know the results of the 1 hour a day with no “goals”. Sounds good.

    1. It is already so cold in Oxford, I am struggling with my asthma these days. So for the time being my challenge has moved indoors! x

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