Okay I loved this book but I do think that a person gets an additional level of sympathy towards What I Talk About When I Talk About Running if they are somebody who is engaged in the tedious and passionate process of self-training. Be it through running, writing, knitting, or whatever that is to the individual. The learnings Murakami has made through running are self-evident in many of his novels. Take the following:
“It’s precisely because of the pain, precisely because we want to overcome that pain, that we can get the feeling, through this process, of really being alive—or at least a partial sense of it. Your quality of experience is based not on standards such as time or ranking, but on finally awakening to an awareness of the fluidity within action itself.”
Read through Norwegian Wood, for example, and you'll see this reflected in almost all of the characters. But, perhaps more importantly, the point of the linked passage and parts of his novels which I've read so far are around the "quality of experience". Time and ranking, writing in a certain manner, these are all expectations. To free yourself from those expectations, to begin and live in the process of the actions you are taking, that is where self-awareness and self-actualization occurs. One other aspect of this book I enjoyed is the imprecise nature of the language, when describing his running or triathlon training and experiences terms such as "pretty much" or "sort of" which when we consider the relative experience of training and self-awareness is an exercise of the imprecise nature of living.
You don't have to be a runner to enjoy this book, but I do think it becomes a more enjoyable read if you have a certain level of dedication...obsession, maybe...to a passion.