Oct 17, 2010

Why We Run

A Natural History
by Bernd Heinrich

This curious book is part memoir, part nature writing in a way, centered around the sport of long-distance running. It's certainly not like the other Heinrich books I've read. Why We Run is the author's account of his experiences as a runner. He recounts how he got into running during his school years, then goes through discussions of how the body uses energy and the physics of movement in relation to running. Not just the human body, but that of many animals, too; examining everything from insects to wolves and antelopes. It was pretty interesting, to read how different animals utilize different energy sources and how their body mechanics work to specialize in certain aspects: endurance, distance, explosive speed, etc. Then Heinrich turns all this back on himself, and tries experimenting with his own body, in training for long-distance endurance runs. How far can he go? what type of fuel supplied when will his body respond to best? and at the very end, after he thinks he's figured it out, he runs a 100-kilometer marathon. Now, I'm not a runner myself, so some of the parts about the sport I didn't really connect to. And sometimes the technical aspects of it, in how the body functions with things like oxygen intake, energy consumption, speed, effort, etc- could get kind of hard to get through- in that way it reminded me a bit of the bug book I read recently. But it was interesting regardless, particularly in the end where he started to tie it all together. I certainly learned a lot about the different animals that I never considered before, and a lot about how our bodies work, and what they are capable of. That part was amazing. If you're a runner, I'd certainly say give Why We Run
a look!

Rating: 3/5 ........ 292 pages, 2001

a few more opinions at:
Jump the Stump
anyone else?


  1. This is interesting to me because I started running again about a year ago, but I've never read anything about running. I hear that book about barefoot running, Born to Run, is interesting too :)

  2. I have been wanting to read Born to Run, several people have told me so much about it; and when I saw this with such a similar theme that's what sparked my interest.

  3. Anonymous10/25/2010

    Sounds interesting. But I may feel inspired to run.


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