For a book that was a mishmash of widely different subjects — part travel log, origin of the species (homo sapiens), ultra running and exploitation of the Tarahamara by an unscrupulous “agent”. Even though the book jumps around A LOT – the different story lines meshed and worked together to hold my interest.
There have been several reviews of this book that go into detail about what it is about, so I am not going to bother with just another book review.
I went into reading “Born to Run” with a lot of encouragement from my Twitter Running community and my wanting to learn more about running differently than I do now.
Did this book really do this? Yes, no and sorta.
The Twitter community hit the nail pretty good as far as it being a great read and a book that I didn’t want to put down.
“Born to Run” gave a good synopsis of why we may have we (as a species) may have developed as long distance runners, which made sense to me. There were descriptions of how the Tarahamara looked when they run or how Scott Jurek “The Deer”, Barefoot Ted and some of the other Ultra runners looked while they were running.
The book also takes a look into the Tarahamara’s diet, which was quite different from the “normal” All-American diet and if you read between the lines “Born to Run” was saying, if you change your diet to more resemble their diet you will be healthier, lose weight and run better. It certainly is not the All-American diet of fast foot and crap food, so it actually made a lot of sense to me.
The hints and looks at different running styles and dietary differences are not in your face, they are embedded into the story and you have to tease them out while reading. Which was one of the reasons that I did like “Born to Run”. McDougall didn’t say “you have to it this way” and or try to tell me what I need to do, he simply and in story form told about how the Tarahamara did it along with how and why it was successful for them and others who used their methods.
Which was a big difference from many books on running that I have read lately and in the past.
I liked that “Born to Run” was told more as a story than as a boring ‘how to’ book or textbook on the origins of Homo sapiens and how we evolved into runners and how we are loosing that ability as a society with many of our modern conveniences.
It also gave you a quick behind the scenes look at some of the personalities in ultra-running and a not so pretty look at how the Tarahamara from his perspective were exploited, and the sciences – how they figured out how humans became runners.
But McDougall gave us this information by focusing on the people involved – not on how to or what they were using for equipment – all of that is woven into the story that he told about people.
“Born to Run” was also the author’s quest to change how he ran and found that to do so, that he had to go back to something more simple – more natural, both in his diet and his approach to running. It is something most of us can identify with and his triumphant finish at the end made me want to go out and run, right then (I didn’t though it was after midnight and my wife would have thought that I am crazier than she already thinks I am) 😉
The idea of getting back to something more simple is something that I and many other runners appear to have searched for. While “Born to Run” is not an instruction manual of how to “barefoot or run naturally” it definitely has motivated me look more closely into Barefoot/Natural Running and see if that is the direction that I need or want to go with my running.
I would definitely recommend that “Born to Run” be included in a list of books for both runners and non-runners to read. I know that this copy will stay on my bookshelf and be re-read again someday in the future and I don’t have all that many books that I say that about.
“Born to Run” is a great running story and has a lot of interesting people and information presented for you to think about, even if it does jump from topic to topic throughout the book, which initially – I didn’t really like.
Now to go read some more on Barefoot/Natural/Minimalist running and see how they relate and compare to Chi Running and The Pose Method, which were also mentioned in the book. It seems that I have a bit of homework in front of me.
Thank you to my Twitter Running Community for encouraging me to read this book and to Christopher McDougall who told a great story, that held my interest enough to be away from the Internet while I was reading his book.