Book Review: Born To Run

It’s in everyone’s background

This is a review for non-athletes – I expect every runner has already heard of Christopher McDougall’s Born To Run – A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. But if you happen to be a runner who hasn’t had the chance to take it in, you’ll want to…

Running isn’t normally an entertaining sort of subject. To compound that, this non-fiction book is stuck in the library’s “Athletic & outdoor sports & games” section… I note that of the county library’s 24 copies, half are currently checked out – that’s both an impressive number of copies within the system and a heavy current usage.

Trust me – it’s that good.

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The science of running

McDougall goes to great effort to help the reader understand quite a bit about the physiology of running – why we run, where we run well, and how that’s worked for our benefit over the years. I happen to have found the Pose Method several years ago and had already switched my style to avoid landing on my heels – and credit it with both a substantial improvement in my abilities and reasonably healthy legs and knees.

If you still like to pound the weight of your body into your heels and trust that your fancy cushioned shoes will save your legs, don’t let me stand in your way. (but do read the book;-)

The heart of running

I’m not a fan of road races.

In fact, I don’t really like just “running” around a track.

Oh sure, I’ll do either once in a while to get a good comparison point.

But the thing I like to do – is run in the forest.

And trails are good, but you’d be surprised how little you need a trail when there’s no underbrush.

Story elements

This is perhaps the reason the book works. McDougall weaves the issues together in a compelling story – with himself in the main role. He’s investigating the prowess of some rather amazing runners, a few interesting characters from around the world, and the sport of just plain old “running a whole lot”.

It’s not possible to work your way through the book without becoming interested in how the final race turns out.

Some interest

Me – I’ve never really had an interest in long or marathon race lengths let alone ultra-long events of fifty or even one hundred miles! To wake up and start running in the morning and hope to finish by the time the sun is setting – that’s a lot of running.

Could that change – perhaps. I doubt that I’ll go for a classic marathon because running down a road for that long just doesn’t seem interesting. Change the terrain to a trail… Yeah, I could see myself doing that.

Possibilities

You might not think you can – but the evidence seems clear – you should be able to. And that’s an interesting prospect, isn’t it? If you undertake the effort to do so, please be sure to take your time, build good form and conditioning, and enjoy yourself.

So yes, on my say-so, read Born To Run – A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen.

And I promise to get my copy back to the library soon;-)

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