Friday, February 13, 2015
Books to Read - Born To Run
I do not run long distances - and as far as I'm concerned, anything over 200 meters is long. My younger son T, however, loves to run, and he regularly logs eight to ten miles a day. Last year he started having trouble with foot pain, and his running coach suggested I read Born To Run.
I'm so glad I did.
This non-fiction book is a page turner, even if you've never run a mile in your life. Christopher McDougall is a vivid, wonderful storyteller, and he weaves an interesting, true tale with science and anthropological research.
It all began when the author, himself an avid runner, started having aches and pains. His doctor told him that long distance running wasn't natural and that human bodies weren't made for the pressure put on the feet and knees. He suggested that McDougall should probably stop.
Instead, McDougall tracked down the Tarahumara Indian Tribe of Mexico's Copper Canyons. For centuries they have practiced techniques that allow them to run hundreds of miles without rest - blissfully. Known for their excellent health and serene nature, the Tarahumara Indians run barefoot or with the cheapest, flattest soles possible.
The book then leads you on a journey that explores why we were born to run. The human foot is a true marvel of engineering that has been robbed of its ability to do what it was designed to do by modern running shoes. Our ancestors used persistence hunting - chasing something down until it collapsed from exhaustion. Fascinating stuff that was all new to me.
McDougall also delves into the world of ultra marathoning - running 50 or 100 miles in grueling conditions - and introduces the reader to some of the unique characters involved in the sport.
This all culminates with an ultra race through Tarahumara country, which pits the tribe against an oddball group of American ultramarathoners, and McDougall himself.
Born To Run is entertaining, educational, and inspiring. I found myself smiling as I finished the last page. If you enjoy long distance running, this book will reinforce why. And if you're like me, it's a unique glimpse into the world that produces this kind of joy.
I still don't get it, but T sure does.