Born to Run by Chris McDougall is a tricky, tricky little book. I picked it up at random with some birthday money this summer because I wanted to blow all my gift money on books, something I rarely let myself do. I wanted a book about running, but I didn’t want a training book. I wanted to be inspired and educated. And let’s be honest, I wanted something that was long with small print so it could be savored. (Coincidentally, the other book I picked up was Team of Rivals, an Abraham Lincoln biography. Still not finished with it yet. I’m savoring it.)
At that time, I had heard of Born to Run and read its reviews on other blogs and in major running magazines, so I was familiar with its premise. McDougall, a journalist, writes about his quest to find the Tarahumara, an ancient Mexican people who are said to be the fastest, most enduring runners in the world. And he hopes to answer the question of why runners as a group are so prone to injury. McDougall shares his search for the Caballo Blanco, the only American known to have found and befriended the Tarahumara people. He chronicles the legends of the Leadville 100 ultramarathon and the winners and losers who also seem to have superhuman running abilities. He presents research that argues against modern running shoes and for allowing the architectural marvels that are our feet to carry us on our runs. And he writes a compelling, page-turning story of a Tarahumara and American race in the depths of the Mexican mountains.
To say that I was inspired by this book is an understatement. One chapter in, and I could not put it down. Before purchasing the book, I had ordered a new pair of Asics GTs, but midway through I was scouring the Internet for barefoot running resources and returning my marshmallow shoes for Vibram Five Fingers because maybe, just maybe, making the switch to as little shoe as possible would “cure” the problems I have with my illiotibial band (more on that in another post). I was summarizing every chapter I read to Linden on our runs, repeating during every cool down, “You have to read this book.”
And with that I will say to you, “You have to read this book.” But you have been warned that if you choose to pick up this book, you will wonder if barefoot running will fix all of your running injuries. You will be tempted to throw off your shoes and run your next five-miler barefoot. Please don’t do this; it’s a really bad idea. Instead, read some additional books that are specific to correctly barefoot running (The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Barefoot Running is a good one), and start barefooting it slowly.
Also be warned that this book may inspire you to do bigger and better things, maybe more than you’re ready for right now. This book rekindled in me an excitement for running that I haven’t had in a very long time. And I started dreaming again about coaching and race directing and running a marathon, and well, this blog is a direct result of the journey that this book has started.
And last, be warned that you’ll also want to buy and eat chia seeds.
What was the last book that so inspired you?