A Born To Run Book Review – Born to Run: The hidden tribe, the ultra runners, and the greatest race the world has never seen.
By Christopher McDougall
The best runner leaves no tracks.
~ Tao Te Ching
The above quote says it all. If you understand the real meaning of these six little words, you probably don’t need to read Christopher McDougall’s book. But you would miss a great adventure. This book has become one of my all-time favourites. Really it is that good. It even made me buy two pairs of freaky looking running shoes. It has even convinced me that Jesus, contrary to modern opinion, did wear some wicked foot wear. You will also not get to read about the running people, the Rarámuri aka the Tarahumara.
These Native American people of northwestern Mexico are renowned for their long-distance running ability. Living in caves and shelters in the Copper Canyons of northwestern Mexico. They live a simple life. Without crime, lies and high rates of diseases like cancer.
You will also miss the fact that runners wearing state of the art running shoes are 123 percent more likely to get injured than runners in cheap shoes. Or the fact that eight out of ten runners are hurt every year.
This is where Christopher McDougall’s adventure starts. In a doctor’s surgery trying to find out why he is always in pain from doing something that should come naturally. His journey of discovery takes us to the Copper Canyons in search of the Rarámuri and Caballo Blanco – the White Horse.
Think Easy, Light, Smooth and Fast. You start with easy, because if that’s all you get, that’s not so bad. Then work on light. Make it effortless, like you don’t give a shit how high the hill is or how far you’ve got to go. When you’ve practiced that so long that you forget you’re practicing, you work on making it smoooooooth. You won’t have to worry about the last one – you get those three, and you’ll be fast.
Born to Run also introduces the reader to Dr Ruth Heidrich. At 78 years young, this remarkable lady after facing breast cancer in her forties, turned to a leafy green diet to try help beat the disease. Now a seasoned raw vegan IronLADY she still competes in hardcore Ironman Triathlons allover the world. Her story and her book A Race for Life, really did inspire me to give up meat and milk. My motives I’m ashamed to say, were not driven out of compassion for farm animals, but for the love of me!
But you can’t be strong without eating meat, right? Well, Dr Ruth and another vegan athlete prove that this is nonsense. Meet Scott Jurek. The world’s greatest ultra-distance runner and a strict vegan. He noticed he could train harder and recovered quicker by replacing burgers with vegetables. Read my review of Eat & Run by Scott Jurek.
The book explains why the Tarahumara elders can still run for days on end, on eating little more than corn and the odd mouse. They also don’t get injured while running up and down boulder strewn tracks while wearing hand made Jesus Creepers. This is where the real body of the book is at. Running “barefoot” seems to be the bitter pill that many injured runners are looking for. By ditching comfy, cushioned trainers are sensitive feet will soon teach us to run in a different way. Like we did when we were kids. By landing on the mid foot instead of bouncing off our heels we run more like the Tarahumara.
We might never be hardy enough to hunt deer by running them to their death by exhaustion. Our air-cooled supremacy among the animal kingdom need not be explored to the fullest. But we can learn to tread lightly on this earth by running like we were born to do and eating more like the Rarámuri.
Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.
~ Roger Bannister
I probably will never enter an ultra marathon. But largely thanks to this book, know that running can make you happier, and healthier. A lot of great men and women know and have known this. Emil Zatopek, Roger Bannister, Scott Jurek, Dr Ruth Heidrich, Nelson Mandela and Abraham Lincoln have a lot in common. Mandela even in prison, continued to run seven miles a day in place in his cell. While Lincoln “could beat all the other boys in a footrace”.
His love of life shone through every movement.
~ Ron Clarke on Zatopek
Read my Born to Run Audiobook Review.
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