Fantastic. Loved it, and I am so not a runner. Although I did sign up for my first half-marathon this week… Coincidence? Probably not…
This guy can write. He is funny, and he is engaging, and he magically turns research and statistics into a really great story.
He begins this epic journey with a trip to the doctor for pain in his feet. The diagnosis: stop running because running is bad for you. He tours the reader through the worlds of ultra-marathons, olympic training, barefoot running. He eventually travels to the Copper Canyons in Mexico to meet the Tarahumara Indians, who run dozens of miles a day in flimsy sandals for their whole lives and don’t suffer from typical running injuries (I can’t even think of examples of typical running injuries right now… See how much I am NOT a runner?).
There seem to be a number of factors that lead to happy, pain-free running. McDougall doesn’t exactly make a list– he introduces you to different people who champion various methods, like barefoot running, and leaves you to make general conclusions. Proponents he emphasizes: running form, especially the mid-foot strike, quality character, and truly running for JOY. This little sentence, tucked 2/3s of the way through the book, illustrates my biggest take away:
‘Check out their feet’ said Eric. Even though Scott was in the Brooks trail shoe he’d helped design and Caballo was in sandals, they both skimmed their feet over the ground just the way Ted did in his bare feet, their foot strikes in perfect sync. It was like watching a team of Lipizzaner stallions circle the show ring. (p. 190)
The title says it all: people were born to run. So I signed up for a half-marathon. Why not, right? There are a few things in this book that I’d like to try, but who knows how successful this amateur will actually be. (For instance: one of the coaches McDougall interviews has his athletes run barefoot on grass for their training once a week. I think that sounds like it could be fun!)
But seriously, read this book. Even for the non-athlete, its captivating. And it might make you want to give running another try…