As you all know, I started running a few months back and fell in love, to the point where I now write a separate blog (This Chick Will Run) documenting my progress. I've spent most of my time over there, and I am kicking myself that now, in my late thirties, I have taken up a sport I thought I would never enjoy. You're not supposed to regret, or wish you did something different in life, but I do. I wish I tried to understand running earlier in life, the science and spirit behind it, so I could feel that complete feeling of freedom and satisfaction of running the way I want to, with no pressures other than my own to get better, and at my own pace. It's exhilarating and I love it now.
Born to Run is known as one of *the* books to read in the running community. McDougall's tale of an unknown tribe and the athletes who wanted to keep up with them is succinct and fascinating, and no stone is unturned as he analyzes his own running techniques. Reviewing controversial insights into the "right" shoe to wear, the "right" form, and his experiences with the ultrarunning athletes who are wildly impressive (and just plain crazy) kept me up late, rapt with attention. (Ultrarunners are those who complete distances further than the marathon distance of 26.2 miles. In fact, what is normally considered a minimum ultrarun, according to Ultrarunning's site, is 31.07 miles (a 50k), and extending all the way to 100 miles. There are even events that go for days, not just distances.)
All runners experience injuries and McDougall is no different. When his foot hurt, doctors advised a break. He kept running, and with the help of the mysterious Caballo Blanco, met the Tarahumara tribe of Mexico who easily run extreme distances daily, mileages that will make your jaw drop. They blew me away, I admit. Could anyone easily run a distance from New York to Detroit within a couple of days and not be completely destroyed? Probably not. But the Tarahumra tribe can. And when they run, they wear thin soled sandals that go against everything you were taught to believe about the "right" running shoe. Sometimes, the tribe even run barefoot and still, no issues.
I listened to the audio book and let me tell you, it's a perfect choice to listen to while running, especially if you're like me and don't like to listen to music. I was motivated to get out there and feel inspired by the ultrarunning legends, and the talents of the Tarahumara tribe. Born to Run will definitely be on my list of best books read in 2012, and I will be referring to this book several times over for motivation and insight. Whether you think you are "built for it" or not, you may become convinced we really were born to run, and to run long distances at that.
Interesting fact from the book: We were faster in the 1970s. Six amateur men in a local running group could break a 2:12 marathon mark, but in 2000 we didn't have any US marathoner in the Olympics who would have been able to meet that time. In fact, for the men's marathon, we finished in 69th place. Could it be the way shoes are made nowadays? The Tarahumara go barefoot a lot.
Runners and non-runners: You can't go wrong with this incredible story of Christopher McDougall's quest to understand running that first started because he wanted to find out why his foot hurt. In fact, those who don't run may actually be inspired to go for a short run. I would recommend that. After all, you might surprise yourself.
Publisher: Random House Audio
Release Date: 5/5/09
Audio Time: 11 hours, 9 minutes
Narrator: Fred Sanders
Chrisbookarama (Audio Review)
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Audio Notes: Guys, you can't miss with Fred Sanders at the helm of this book. Click here for the sample on Audible.com. Sanders has a clean voice, easy to understand, and the right inflection on words and events in the story are properly placed. With a background on Broadway and acting roles including Seinfeld and Will and Grace, he's a joy to listen to for this book. I'd highly recommend picking up the audio book and especially listening to it while you run.