Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall

This book was recommended to me by about half a dozen people, but I’d been sitting on it for the past few months — the first couple of chapters just didn’t grab me. But I recently read the whole thing, and am glad I stuck with it.

I’m interested in running — I try to do it a few times a week, even though, as Murakami puts it, it highlights that I’m a very imperfect man, living an imperfect life. (That’s actually a hopeful sentiment to me — that we’re all living imperfect lives, but still try to get out there and run.)

This book is a few different stories: it’s the story of several tribes of long distance runners (100 mile +) in Mexico, a report on ultra-distance running here in the states as well as the rise of barefoot running, and a bit of an evolutionary biology story about why humans are nature’s greatest distance runners (in terms of stamina, not speed).

I have to say, I believed some of it, but not all of it — it felt like a bit of a marketing piece for barefoot running. But it was also a fun book, and helped me understand running a bunch better. I don’t know whether I’ll ever run a marathon, let alone an ultra-marathon, but it was neat to try to imagine that a little bit.

I’ve been experimenting with running in my Vibrams about once a week or so — so far, I’m liking the experience of forefoot striking, and the way that it helps me focus on engaging my core. Not sure I’m sold on running that way all the time, but definitely plan to keep it in the mix to vary my workouts.

One comment

  1. I find McDougall’s book an interesting fish – for one, Barefoot Ted will tell you that the portrait McDougall paints of him is rather sensational and that it’s in parts somewhat comical.

    The bigger problem with the book is the fact that McDougall presents barefoot running as the one-in-all solution to all our running issues and that we should all transition to barefoot running *now*. When you start experimenting with barefoot running (carefully) and also dig really deep into the literature, you’ll find that the world is not black and white (as usual) and that, although there is a lot of good things in barefoot running, there is also considerable risks (just ask me!) and problems involved. By far the best job of laying out the whole picture was recently done by Ross Tucker of the excellent Science of Sport blog — highly recommended read for everyone who is interested in barefoot running.

    The much more interesting point in terms of running form is the principle of midfoot/forefoot striking – combined with a “run tall, run easy” attitude (a good read is coach GP’s aptly called book “Run Tall, Run Easy”).