Chris McDougall’s book Born to Run essentially changed my life. Yes, I know, dramatic, but in this case true. I’ve now re-read the book 5 times and it is incredibly enjoyable each time.
This is a book with 2 stories interleaved. The first is the story of an amazing 50 mile race in the Mexican Canyon-lands between some of America’s best Ultra Marathon runners and the Tarahumara Indians of the Copper Canyon, dreamed up by the mysterious “gringo-indio” Caballo Blanco. The other story is the story of human running, going back to prehistoric times and ending today as people rediscover the joy of running.
For me the book held great fascination on both sides. As a child I was never much of a runner. I could sprint the 100 yard dash in fairly impressive manner (especially considering I never trained) but anything more was an exercise in futility. My school’s PE class in 8th grade had an 8 minute cutoff on the mile to earn an A in the class, and I made it by the skin of my Keds, afterwards falling to the ground and nearly earning a trip to the school nurse as I lay there trying to catch my breath.
30 years later after picking up running as a hobby I went out and tried to duplicate the 8 minute mile and was able to hit that speed without a great deal of drama. The difference being that in 8th grade I wanted nothing to do with running, and today it is something I look forward to doing.
Reading Chris’ book was the spark that lit that fire for me, helping me move past a lot of the physical issues I faced and teaching me about things like pace, form and tempo.
But that’s not what the book is about. Part travel adventure, part sport science, part history, with some anthropology thrown in for good measure, all assembled and told in a pleasant voice and tempo that is just manic enough to keep you interested but never so fast as to lose you.
This isn’t an instruction manual, and won’t show you the step-by-step methods for becoming a runner. What it will give you is a quick-start boost, a look into the world of running at all levels, and will give you the names to pursue for more information, inspiration and ideas. Eric Orton. Scott Jurek. Jenn Shelton. If you ever thought to yourself “I’m just not build for running” this book is for you. If you’re a human being, you were born to run.
Score: 10/10 RAWRS (Absolutely wonderful, I’ve read this book a ton, BUY IT)
High: Highly entertaining, informative, inspirational
Low: I would have liked slightly more detailed information on minimalist running