Apr 3, 2013

Born to Run

by Christopher McDougall

The book is about distance running, and a native tribe that lives in a hidden canyon in Mexico. They are noted for their skill in running barefoot through the desert, traveling miles with ease. Interested in running  further, faster and with less injuries, the author started researching great distance runners and learned about the Tarahumara. He traveled to Mexico to find them and some noted runners who had learned their methods.

His story was very interesting but a bit jumpy; it kept going back and forth between telling the author's personal experience in traveling, searching for the tribe, meeting up with other runners and being involved in running events. Then it would switch to telling about a runner he had met, and past events and for a moment I'd be thrown off when the narrative went back into the present. The first half of the book was all about people; runners learning from the Tarahumara and runners coming to compete with them. The litany of names got a bit boring although some of the characters were quite colorful and eccentric.

What I really enjoyed was the last part of the book, which had more to say about the logistics of running, as it were. Diet, endurance, technique, but mostly about shoes and how they don't (according to his research) really help our feet at all. He claims that modern shoes with all their fancy features do nothing to prevents sports injuries and could even cause them. I found this all very interesting. He started running barefoot himself to see if it would improve things, and had good results.

I only wished to read more about the Tarahumara themselves, there wasn't much mention of them beyond their running ability and reclusive nature. The parts about ultrarunners and their crazy 100-mile races over mountain terrain really took me aback. I had no idea people did such things. And the parts about how human beings seem to have evolved physically to be endurance runners, including an experience with a native African tribe running down an antelope was very intriguing.

I first noticed this book on Reading Through Life and Sophisticated Dorkiness. I really read this one thanks to my older sister. She noticed it had gotten on my TBR list twice, and loaned me her copy. Thanks, Sis!

Rating: 3/5 ........ 287 pages, 2009

more opinions:
The Blue Bookcase
Run it My Way
Jenmarya
Firecat Central

1 comment:

Trish said...

I've seen those barefeet type shoes but I just don't know if I could do it! I love being barefoot but have problems with bunions (actually had surgery on one foot when I was in high school to correct it). But I guess it makes sense that people did and still do run barefoot...