Ok, I admit it. I’m late to the show on this one. I’m sure nearly every runner out there has already read this book. If you have, awesome. If you haven’t, go snag a copy and read it. If you love to run, you’ll love this book.
Born to Run (2009) by Christopher McDougall, who used to be an editor for Men’s Health magazine, started the journey that began with this book by asking a question about his own running, “Why do I keep getting hurt?”
It’s a great question. With all of our modern gear and technology, why are runner’s rates of injury so high? I won’t put any spoilers in this post, just in case you haven’t read it yet.
I initially found the book hard to follow. McDougall, like so many authors these days, writes in a “stream-of-consciousness” style; which basically means he writes exactly like thoughts flow through his mind, meandering around and jumping from topic to topic with little or no warning. I got used to his style soon into the book, and found the story so captivating that I didn’t care. I tore this book up, and finished it in just a few weeks. That’s really fast for me. I read books very slowly, soaking in every little detail.
There are a few major parts of the book I found delightful. Without spoiling the content, here were the major themes he covered:
- Modern running gear does not prevent running injury. In most cases it makes them worse
- The native Tarahumara tribes in the Copper Canyons of Mexico are reclusive, but are some of the greatest distance runners on Earth. And they run in thin sandals only.
- Ultra-marathoners are crazy
- Humans (Homo Sapiens) evolved as runners. We are literally born to be distance running machines
McDougall covers these topics in great detail, and paints colorful pictures of his cast of characters. The best part is that they are all real. I found myself especially captivated by how he wrote about the different races throughout the book. Being a distance runner myself, I could sympathize.
If you are an amateur runner like me, and you’re struggling with getting to that next distance milestone, or even asking yourself if it is all worth it, read this book. I found it so affirming. I guess lots of other people did, too, which is why it was on the best seller list for so long.