Though he writes that he spent a lot of time in revision and thought to complete this book, it reads a bit sloppy and lopes the reader across personal philosophy, self-analysis, race reports (very well-written), and dichotomies between personal life and his progress as a professional writer. Just keep in mind the last two words in the title, 'a memoir'. Murakami's book runs through his life like a runner who sets out without electronics, route, and time constraints --just run (write) till you don't want to run (write) anymore. Forrest Gump would nod approval and Karl Childers would agree and chop a bad man up with a lawnmower blade.
Murakami describes his first attempts at writing and his rapid acceptance as a popular author. Almost simultaneously, he transitions from a 3 pack a day smoker to a small-time runner. He started running because he didn't like the way his body looked and wanted to feel better physically. He quickly became a 6 day per week/daily runner averaging about 36 miles per week. And he has kept up this regimen ever since, give or take a few days for weather, illness, etc. He claims to have never been injured, though he does describes aches and pains and frozen body parts.
Some of his race reports include a route along the original 25 mile path from Athens to Marathon Greece. The original route was only 25 miles. He ran this in extreme heat along a highway. Murakami also writes about the NYC marathon and some of the triathlons he has completed (and not completed).
He describes 'Runners Blues' that almost made him quit running. He lost the desire to run and also felt his PR times as a younger runner moving out of reach as he has aged. He struggles and moves forward with a one step at a time attitude and mixes things up with tri-training and geographic hops from Japan to New England, to NYC, to Hawaii. (Now I really want to run along the Charles river and in Central Park in the morning!! Hawaii? Meh.)
Murakami describes a spiritual debilitation that comes from writing. As the soul is drained from effective writing, it must be replenished, and he has found his source from running. So he needs to run and needs to write (and I guess needs to live in Hawaii sometimes) to stay balanced.
This memoir gives us an honest look into the worries, exaltations, rising expectations, declining abilities, and all of the average experiences that occur in the life of this runner and author. He writes about his life as a 'pan of water with a small hole in the bottom'. We start out with a full pan, we can also add water and sometimes slow the escape, but at some point, the water will be gone.