Running Logs from "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running"

Running Logs from "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" - student project

I read Murakami’s memoir when I started to get into running in April of 2020. I finished the book as I, in a similar fashion to others that catch the running bug, fell totally in love with knocking down mile after mile on foot. Obsessed would be a light word for my attitude towards running.

I wanted to account for every single run that Murakami specifically mentions in the book. From laps around the Imperial Palace, to various marathons in the United States, I went through the book and logged each run that he mentions, with the route that was taken, along with the accompanying date, distance, and, if present, the time he posted.

I managed to extract 318 runs, some of which were races, most of which were training.

 Running Logs from "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" - image 1 - student project

For many of the runs, all of the information I desired was in the book. For others, such as a 15 km race he mentions he finished in 1983, or a frequently ran unnamed college track route that was near the JGSDF Camp in Narashino, I managed to unearth the specific locations, dates, official names of the routes/races, and in some cases found Haruki Murakami’s official times. When, either because of a creative choice or, more likely, some tactical editing, he leaves his specific times out of the memoir.

 Running Logs from "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" - image 2 - student projectRunning Logs from "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" - image 3 - student projectI started to look at how I was going to visualize the data, and a beeswarm-like plot i thought could activate the 'distance' component of my data, as well as location, and date ran.

I started to look at how I was going to visualize the data, and a beeswarm-like plot i thought could activate the 'distance' component of my data, as well as location, and date ran.

I began building by using some of the tools that Nicholas suggested we look at, but really found myself struggling with the Cardo DB stuff, and so gravitated towards RAWGraphs.io, which was just an incredible service, and so interesting to play around with/begin to visualize different components of the data.

 Running Logs from "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" - image 4 - student project

this was my very first draft. Which then after many iterations and decisions developed into this.

 Running Logs from "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" - image 5 - student project

It is a spread of 2 pages.

Running Logs from "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" - image 6 - student project

On the left hand side is the visualization that represents every single run mentioned, and the year it was run. The size of the circle represents the distance, a key to what size circle = what length distance you can find at the bottom of the page. Each color represents a different country the run took place in. 

Running Logs from "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" - image 7 - student project

On the right hand side, I put in a map I made of the longest route Murakami ran in his book. It was an ultramarathon race around Lake Saroma, and so I thought a visualization would be useful to understand the enormity of the distance. Then on the right is a bar chart which displays every route that was run, and the distance Murakami racked up on each route. Some of the routes contain only one run, such as the Marathon races, while some contain close to a hundred runs, such as the Charles River route. Where times were available, (for the routes that were races) I put in the information in gold at the end of the bar. 

Running Logs from "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" - image 8 - student project

I scanned in some origami paper for the texutre you see at the top and bottom of the pages. My full dataset is available too. 

Nicholas was a fantastic teacher and was a really amazing introduction to the world of data visualization. I learnt a tremendous amount, and am looking forward to taking his other classes.