Born to run: A hidden tribe, superathletes, and the greatest race the world has never seen by Christopher McDougall
A writer has a foot injury and that starts a journey to learn more about distance running. In particular, there is a culture of Tarahumara Indians that are legendary for their epic runs, simple diet, partying and remote lifestyle. McDougall tells a few stories along the way. These intense 50-100 mile trail runs in various places and certain individuals that not only run in them, they dominate the competition. After each mini-story, we hear how the various individuals are invited to a secluded race with the Tarahumara. The race is extremely challenging and close but also a great display of friendship and joy with running. Some keys through the book are shorter strides and lesser cushion on shoes. Most running injuries correspond to new shoes. Cushioned shoes through research have shown to elicit harsh impacts. Shoes would minimize the temporary pain but not injury. A minimal shoe or barefoot causes the foot to react and strengthen. With smaller steps, the foot is efficient at this. There is also mention of research and possible explanations. It seems we as a species became upright and the main advantage was our distance running ability. We could cool ourselves and breathe while maintaining pace. Other animals cannot. This led to outrunning animals. This leads to more protein, helping to expand brain size over time. The book makes a push to illustrate that we are made to run when we rely on our natural makeup, something the Tarahumara have maintained. The other big takeaway is the joy they had. Each of the elite runners had a pure smile of joy as they ran. They found a way to fully embrace some or multiple aspects of it.
Influence on me:
I liked the discussion revolving around the evolution of our species to become distance runners. Personally, I had never called myself a runner. Most of my exercise experience was weight lifting as I found it to be more enjoyable. Knowing this information though gives me a new confidence that I too can improve. I can embrace running and get the numerous benefits it offers. As I was reading through the book, I had talked with runners and biomechanist to start and have a shorter more efficient stride. I have to report that my own plantar fasciitis has been reduced greatly. Lastly, I look to have joy during the run. It is easy to get down on yourself, thinking how tired or hot or thirsty you may be. As I think back to the book, these other individuals were capable of so much more. I think about what I enjoy about the running process. It, in turn, does make it go better and as each run has less pain physically and mentally, then I truly do enjoy it more. It’s a nice book for someone looking to get into running.