Sunday, July 17, 2011

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

Copyright: 2010
Publisher: Random House audio
Genre: Non-fiction
Pages: audio
Challenges: New Author, What's in a Name (life stage), audio book
Author's Website
My rating: 5/5

Simple Description: 
The author, Christopher McDougall is a runner who kept getting injured.  He set out to learn why and figure out a way to get back into running.  He ended up in Mexico in a quest to find the Tarahumara Indians and Caballa Blanco.   The Tarahumara Indians are ultra runners, only they don't normally compete in any races.  They run for fun.  The run a lot.  They run long mileage.  How is it they can continue to run this mileage and never hurt themselves?  Whereas thousands of runners in the US run less mileage and hurt themselves every year.

The author set out to find out what the difference was.  The answer wasn't exactly what he was expecting.  The Tarahumara Indians didn't wear running shoes, they ran in sandals.

The books goes back and for between the author's search of Caballa Blanco and the resulting race with some of the top ultra marathoners and the science behind barefoot runners and why humans run.

Here's a blurb from the author's website:

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.

My Thoughts: 
While I was enjoying this story, the constant switching between the authors quest to find Caballa Blanco and the Tarahumara Indians (and resulting race) and the science behind why humans run and barefoot running was rather confusing at times.  It really took me awhile to get used to it.  In fact, I even told some people last week that I wasn't too sure about the book.

With that being said, I ended up loving the book.  I loved both parts of the story.  I loved learning about the race and the background of the runners. I was fascinated by the science/research behind running and running barefoot.  There were several times while listening to the narration of the race where I found myself smiling.  Smiling at the sheer joy the runners were experiencing (along with the pain of course).  Smiling because while I don't run that kind of mileage, I know what it feels like to push myself and how great it feels to accomplish something in running you didn't think you could do.

The science side of it was just fascinating for me.  The author explains what some have found to be why humans run a marathon, what drives some to run that distance and more.    I also agreed with his findings regarding current running shoes and the move many are taking towards barefoot running.

I didn't think I would like this book.  Yes, I'm a runner, but that doesn't mean I actually read books about running.   However, after dealing with a stress fracture in my heal in 2009 I started doing research on the minimalist shoe movement.  I did a lot of research and decided it made sense and switched to a minimalist shoe this past April (moving to it 100% in May).  Every time Dr's or other runners learned of my plan to do this this they would comment "Oh, you've read Born to Run?"  Nope.  I then read several reviews that said the audio version of this book was great, so I decided to give it a try. I am so glad I did.

I honest think most runners would enjoy this book. If they can get used to the constant switching in the story, that is.   I'm sure I sound like a broken record, but as a runner I just found the story fascinating.

For those who aren't runners, if you live with a runner this might be a good book for you. It might help you understand why they run.  You might enjoy the race parts.    If you don't live with a runner, heck, you might still find it interesting.  You might think runners are crazy, especially those who run 100 mile races.  Maybe this book would help explain why they do what they do.

After reading this book do I still think I made the right choice switching to a minimalist shoe?  You betcha! Every point that was made regarding the benefits are the reasons I switched.  Even though I've had some pain and issues switching, it's the right choice in my opinion and one that I recommend to others when they ask me about it.

Since I'm speaking of running, just want to mention that my next half marathon is Oct. 2nd.  It's in 12 weeks.  Yikes!

Audio Review: 
The narrator of this book is Fred Sanders.  He did an awesome job.  I loved listening to this book.  He did a great job with this book and I definitely recommend this one on audio.


bermudaonion said...

Since I'm not a runner, I'll probably skip this one.

Kris said...

Probably a smart move..haha! I think it could be hard for non-runners to really get in to it. I would love for the husband to read it since he thinks I'm crazy..but that won't happen.