The powerful and life changing book that some arguably say kicked off the growing barefoot running craze. With hundreds of reviews on amazon alone (nearly all of them positive), it’s no wonder why the book is a hot item, inspiring many to not only look into barefoot running as a sport, but as a lifestyle and state of mind.
This was the book that first got me interested in many things: Barefoot running, ultra marathons, the Tarahumara Indians and the rest of the crazy cast of characters of the book. For a non-fiction story, this book had it all. from an exciting cast of characters to drama and even a little twist of sex appeal. The great thing about the book is that all the characters are real and you can wiki or Google them to see what they are up to now. A couple notes about the book that caught my interest.
History of Ultra Marathons, Runners and Other Figures in the Ultra Marathon World
The book gives a great background on the history of many famous runners such as Ken Chlouber, Ann Trason, Scott Jurek, Jenn Mookie Shelton, Billy Bonehead Barrett and one of our favorites, Barefoot Ted. They go into depth about their history, flaws and characteristics. Born to Run also mentions many notable trainers and figures in the ultra marathon community.
One of the most interesting additions to the book were about this tribe of Indians who were raised running extremely long distances. One explorer swore he saw a Tarahumara catch a deer with his bare hands, chasing the animal until it finally dropped dead from exhaustion. Interesting to know is that although they are the kindest, humblest and reserved people you’ll ever meet on the planet, they have alcohol fueled rave like parties before long and important races. Running in home made sandals or barefoot, the Tarahumara inspired many runners by letting them know that the minimalist lifestyle and environment can have it’s benefits:
In Tarahumara Land, there was no crime, war, or theft. There was no corruption, obesity, drug, addiction, greed, wife-beating, child abuse, heart disease, high blood pressure, or carbon emissions.
The book is a must read for anybody who is interested in running or just interested in non fictional fun and exciting books in general.
Below are additional editorial excerpts from Amazon and their top reviewer as well as a video from the Author Christopher McDougall.
“Full of incredible characters, amazing athletic achievements, cutting-edge science, and, most of all, pure inspiration, Born to Run is an epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt? In search of an answer, Christopher McDougall sets off to find a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners and learn their secrets, and in the process shows us that everything we thought we knew about running is wrong.
Isolated by the most savage terrain in North America, the reclusive Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyons are custodians of a lost art. For centuries they have practiced techniques that allow them to run hundreds of miles without rest and chase down anything from a deer to an Olympic marathoner while enjoying every mile of it. Their superhuman talent is matched by uncanny health and serenity, leaving the Tarahumara immune to the diseases and strife that plague modern existence. With the help of Caballo Blanco, a mysterious loner who lives among the tribe, the author was able not only to uncover the secrets of the Tarahumara but also to find his own inner ultra-athlete, as he trained for the challenge of a lifetime: a fifty-mile race through the heart of Tarahumara country pitting the tribe against an odd band of Americans, including a star ultramarathoner, a beautiful young surfer, and a barefoot wonder.
With a sharp wit and wild exuberance, McDougall takes us from the high-tech science labs at Harvard to the sun-baked valleys and freezing peaks across North America, where ever-growing numbers of ultrarunners are pushing their bodies to the limit, and, finally, to the climactic race in the Copper Canyons. Born to Run is that rare book that will not only engage your mind but inspire your body when you realize that the secret to happiness is right at your feet, and that you, indeed all of us, were born to run. ” (This quote taken from an official editorial from Amazon.com)
Here is a video of an interview with the writer Christopher McDougall, talking a little bit about his journey and also the barefoot running shoe that allowed him to make this journey.
One inspired reader writes “Born to Run succeeds at three levels. First, it is a page turner. The build up to a fifty-mile foot race over some of the world’s least hospitable terrain drives the narrative forward. Along the way McDougall introduces a cast of characters worthy of Dickens, including an almost superhuman ultramarathoner, Jenn and the Bonehead–a couple who down bottles of booze to warm up for a race, Barefoot Ted, Mexican drug dealers, a ghostly ex-boxer, a heartbroken father, and of course the Tarahumara, arguably the greatest runners in the world.
Born to Run is such a rip-roaring yarn, that it is easy to miss the book’s deeper achievements. At a second level, McDougall introduces and explores a powerful thesis–that human beings are literally born to run. Recreational running did not begin with the 1966 publication of “Jogging” by the co-founder of Nike. Instead, McDougall argues, running is at the heart of what it means to be human. In the course of elaborating his thesis, McDougall answers some big questions: Why did our ancestors outlive the stronger, smarter Neanderthals? Why do expensive running shoes increase the odds of injury? The author’s modesty keeps him from trumpeting the novelty and importance of this thesis, but it merits attention.
Finally, Born to Run presents a philosophy of exercise. The ethos that pervades recreational and competitive running–“no pain, no gain,” is fundamentally flawed, McDougall argues. The essence of running should not be grim determination, but sheer joy. Many of the conventions of modern running–the thick-soled shoes, mechanical treadmills, take no prisoners competition, and heads-down powering through pain dull our appreciation of what running can be–a sociable activity, more game than chore, that can lead to adventure. McDougall’s narrative moves the book forward, his thesis provides a solid intellectual support, but this philosophy of joy animates Born to Run. I hope this book finds the wide audience it deserves.”
To find out more about the book, read interviews with the author, or get your copy in audio, Kindle or hard or soft back, click here.