In my new Dutch column I lean (heavily) on two most excellent sources. First, Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I think it continues to be my favorite running book, despite the inspiring new writing by pro runners like Dean Karnazes and, more recently, Kara Goucher. Maybe it’s because Murakami’s is so much more than a running book.
His thoughts on pain are always worth repeating: ‘The hurt is part of the unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand anymore is up to the runner himself.’ Oh, and ‘suffering is optional’, he adds. This from the man who wants his tomb stone to say: ‘At least he never walked.’
The other source: The ever interesting Gina Kolota, runner and New York Times journalist, on the Well Blog. She denies ‘craving’ pain. Runners who say they run and push as a way to look for pain –subliminally perhaps– are, well, fools. The latter is my word, not hers, and I can say it, as I appear to be one.
In any event, at the bottom of my column I ask readers to come up with phrases that describe the pain runners can’t avoid. More than simple discomfort or exhaustion. Less than injuries that force you to stop. (That’s the scientific definition of pain that Kolata offers.) We need more words for pain, I agree with the reporter – like the Eskimos and their many ways to talk about snow. Any suggestions, in English or Dutch?
Until then, I can only say: suffer well.