Basically I agree with the view that writing novels is an unhealthy type of work. When we set off to write a novel, when we use writing to create a story, like it or not a kind of toxin that lies deep down in all humanity rises to the surface. All writers have to come face-to-face with this toxin and, aware of the danger involved, discover a way to deal with it, because otherwise no creative activity in the real sense can take place. (Please excuse the strange analogy: with a fugu fish, the tastiest part is the portion near the poison - this might be something similar to what I'm getting at.) No matter how you spin it, this isn't a healthy activity.
Haruki Murakami's memoir is somewhere between a diary, a runner's log, an essay on the philosophy of running, writing and life itself. After reading and re-reading most of the author's novels, it's interesting to find out something more about the man behind all the stories that make seemingly everyday events sound fascinating and magical.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running explains how Murakami first got the idea of becoming an author (on 1st April, 1978, in the middle of a baseball game in Japan, when Dave Hilton hit the ball), why he started running 10 km every day, six days a week, and how he trained for and competed in a triathlon. He writes about his experiences of running the "original" marathon from Athens to Marathon, running the sixty-two mile (about 100 km) ultramarathon in Hokkaido, Japan, and training with Olympic athletes in Central Park, New York for the 2005 New York City Marathon. He also reflects on getting older and how he feels about his race times no longer improving - no matter how much he trains.
The memoir feels authentic and deeply personal. It almost makes me want to start running, just because Murakami makes it sound so amazing. :)
Haruki Murakami: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. Knopf. 2008. 180 pages.
Originally published in Japanese as Hashiru Koto ni Tsuite Kataru Toki no Boku no Kataru Koto
Translated by Philip Gabriel
NY Sun review: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
Runners World article on Haruki Murakami
Wikipedia: Haruki Murakami