A Review: Born to Run
About a month ago, I read Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall. This is a non-fiction book that really resonated with me: I cut many relatable stories, fascinating perspectives, and interesting factoids from this review.
The novel combines three threads: the author's quest to become a better runner, a history of the Tarahumara (pronounced something like Tara-oo-mara), and the Caballo Blanco's quest to stage a race between Scott Jurek, the champion ultra-marathoner and the Tarahumara's best runners. I found each of these threads fascinating.
I relate to author's frustration with running: if I'm not careful with how I train, I tend to get injured. I run too far on pavement? My knees hurt. I run downhill too much? My knees hurt. I run too many miles in a week? I start getting shin splints. The easiest way to relate with other runners is bitching about how you're injured too often train to your full potential.
Born to Run discusses about why. It does so from two angles: from the Tarahumara side and from a modern day scientific side. The Tarahumara are important because they're distance running freaks: they run for days without seeming to tire on terrain that people struggle to hike up. Their running shoes? Thin strips of rubber, used as sandals. Their energy drink? Iskiate--a mixture of Chia Seeds, limes, suger and water. Their survival method? Running. They ran from the Aztecs; they ran from the Spanish; ultimately, they ended up in some of the most inhospitable mountainous deserts in Mexico. Hiding from humanity, they turned into the best distance runners in the world.
It also explored the science of running: what makes humans the best distance running animal on the planet? It's speculated that early humans used persistance hunting: intelligently chasing down prey until the prey collapses from exhaustion. Why are we "terrible" at distance running today? Why do the Tarahumara find running so easy when the average American hates it? What makes distance runners tick? And--how can I turn into a distance runner?
One of the answers is simple: to be great at distance running you have to love it. The easy way to find the other answers to the other questions is to read this book; the hard way is to go out and do that run that you've been dying to do--and to do it for the sole reason that, at its core, running really is fun.
I bought and devoured this book after I discovered I broke my foot in early March. It's June. I'm still itching to run.
- Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer
- QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter by Richard Feynman
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