Finished this a couple days ago. It's a lovely little book on the topic of running and other long-distance sports.
One thing that I came away with, though, was the whole mystery of running, which Murakami leaves intact with this story, and which I don't understand myself all the way, either.
Why do you do it? Why do you make yourself do difficult things?
For years, I avoided running. I thought it was wretched and it felt awful and I assumed I was a broken person who wasn't capable.
Then I had my boob reduction surgery and realized, no. It's just that you had all this extra fucking weight bolted onto the front of your body that made it hard.
But also? I think there was a wall I could have broken through, even with my former giant boobs. I could have broken through and realized that there is something important about withstanding pain and discomfort and uncertainty.
Running is all those things. It's all my anxiety issues, boiled down to simple tasks: do I keep going? Do I turn there? Do I stop and retie my shoes? Do I change my music? One thing at a time.
But also, why don't you stop? You can just STOP if you're running. Unlike a bicycle, which you have to brake and dismount and then push all the way home. With running, you can just stop and walk.
But I don't. I used to. I don't now, though. Walking's not the same.
Why? Why won't I accept that?
And why do I keep wanting something to be given back to me, with each run? Why do I mull over whatever lesson or image or question I get from each run?
Why is running this big mysterious thing for me and for others, they can toss off a 5k, eat brunch, go home, jerk off in the shower, then mow the lawn, make dinner, go to a party, and then fall into bed without some interior ordeal about it?
I kind of like that I don't quite understand everything about running.