Book Review – Born To Run by Christopher McDougall
When you run on the earth and run with the earth, you can run forever. – Tarahumaras’.
Author – Christopher McDougall.
Price – $15.95.
ISBN – 978-0-307-27918-7.
Number of pages – 287.
Genre – Sports, ultrarunning.
About the author
Christopher McDougal is an American author and journalist who has written for Associated Press(as a war correspondent), Esquire, The New York Times magazine, Outside, New York, Runner’s World and a contributing editor to Men’s Health. You can also visit his blog for more information.
About the book
The book for Christopher began by the question ‘why does my foot hurt?’. This question led him to write this epic book for which I am personally thankful to him. He was a runner who used to get injured often. Visits to Doctors were more than his visits to the grocery store. Finally he got fed up and decided to find the answers and stumbled upon the secrets of Copper Canyon, Mexico.
Tarahumara(pronounced as Tara-oo-mara) or Raramuri or the Running People live deep in the Copper Canyon, Mexico. They are known to run hundreds of miles just like that, without getting injured. These were the people, the author of the book wanted to find out about. For that he needed a guy like Caballo Blanco aka the White Horse. His real name is said to be Micah True.
The book starts with the author looking for Caballo. When he finds him, he gets to hear the most interesting story of his lifetime about the mystical tribe of Tarahumara. The book mentions about the high tension race between Ann Trason and the Tarahumaras. The description of the race at Western States 100 mile is truly astounding. Here Ann Trason is named Bruja, the witch by the Indians. Here at the race Coach Joe Vigil witnesses the true love for the sport of running. He studies the techniques of these Indians and why they are so good at it. The same technique he applies on Deena Castor to make her a champion marathoner.
Next athlete featured in the book is Scott Jurek, the legendary American Ultra runner. He has a chapter on his background and excellence in ultrarunning. Throughout the book he has been compared to the Indians with respect to the simplicity and primal nature of love he has for distance running.
Barefoot Ted also gets a mention in this book. He also battled with low back pain while running in cushioned shoes and stumbled upon barefoot running. From there on his life changed. He even qualified for Boston Marathon by running barefoot. He brought much needed humor in this extraordinary book. Also being mentioned in this book are Jenn Shelton and Billy Barnett who blazed the East Coast ultra circuit.
Christopher also gave out detailed study on barefoot running and how expensive shoes with cushioned heel , motion control etc are injuring us and snatching the joy of pure running. The researches given were an eye opener for me. Probably a reason for me to ditch my thick trainers for Nike Frees.
The author also delves on the persistence hunting style of the Bushmen of Kalahari deserts. The point he proves here is that man from beginning is born to run to hunt. He has a better cooling system which makes him go on for hours together as compared to the animals.
Finally the book winds up with the epic race between the new age ultra runners against the Tarahumaras. The race gave me goose bumps till the end. I will not let you know as to who came first. For that you have to read this book.
Personal Opinion – The book is a head on challenge to the shoe makers. Nike gets a lot of mention in this book, not for good reasons though. The author has tried to bring home the point that expensive shoes are robbing us of the true joy of running by injuring us. The numerous studies and researches he presents in the book is a testimony of it. The secrets of the Tarahumaras is something to hold on to. The way they run, they eat and enjoy the pleasures of running is something which we need to imbibe. You will find the techniques of correct running style in this book, without spending a fortune on gait analysis and other clinical tests.
If you have lately missing on the motivation to run or getting injured for no rhyme and reason, then this book is for you. This book can make you rediscover your love for running and doing it the most simple way as our ancestors did.
Final Verdict – A must read. You cannot die before reading this book.