This was kismet! I had literally just added it to my reading list. It seems to be one of those essential reads, like Born To Run and Once A Runner, and I couldn't wait to dive in.
|The book, being used, smells like perfume. It makes me wonder about its last owner.|
The foreword is titled "Suffering Is Optional"; that's how you know you have a good running book in hand. Runners know better than anyone that growth lies in discomfort, that you have to learn to "embrace the suck", as they say. But living through discomfort doesn't mean suffering. We can transcend pain and choose, in a way, to enjoy it. As Murakami writes: "Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional."
I won't go through every stone I myself picked up. I'm sure what spoke to me will be different than what speaks to others, but I think that's the beauty of this memoir. Its honesty and simplicity will speak, at times, to any kind of runner.
The strongest reaction I had was to chapter six, wherein Murakami recounts his first ultra at Lake Saroma in Hokkaido, Japan. Murakami's account of how his legs felt during his ultra is how I felt during my marathon! I guess that sheds some light on the difference between us, as if there were any doubt that we're not exactly the same kind of runner.
He writes that he had the desire to run on, but his legs had other ideas, grew "disobedient", and refused to move how he wanted them to. I read that part thinking, Oh, that sounds like mile 21!
And I think anyone who has ever run a marathon - or perhaps any race outside the realm of "normal distance", whatever that may be for an individual - can wholeheartedly agree. I came out of the marathon a different person than I was at the start. Somewhere along 26.2 miles, who I was as a runner and a person changed.
That's the beauty of distance running, and Murakami captures that beauty perfectly.
Have you read WITAWITAR? (Whew, that's a long title!)
What running book do you recommend I pick up next? I just started Meb for Mortals.