Born to Run by Christopher McDougall – A Review.

Since I reviewed Iron War I’ve gone on to read another book regarding running by Christopher McDougall called Born to Run.

Here’s the blurb from Amazon.co.uk:

At the heart of Born to Run lies a mysterious tribe of Mexican Indians, the Tarahumara, who live quietly in canyons and are reputed to be the best distance runners in the world; in 1993, one of them, aged 57, came first in a prestigious 100-mile race wearing a toga and sandals. A small group of the world’s top ultra-runners (and the awe-inspiring author) make the treacherous journey into the canyons to try to learn the tribe’s secrets and then take them on over a course 50 miles long. With incredible energy and smart observation, McDougall tells this story while asking what the secrets are to being an incredible runner. Travelling to labs at Harvard, Nike, and elsewhere, he comes across an incredible cast of characters, including the woman who recently broke the world record for 100 miles and for her encore ran a 2:50 marathon in a bikini, pausing to down a beer at the 20 mile mark.

This story starts with the question of McDougall asking “Why does my foot hurt?” This one question leads him on a journey that ends with him meeting the Tarahumara and the infamous Caballo Blanco. McDougall looks into the barefoot community and whether running shoes are actually causing more problems than they are solving.

Personally I found this story utterly mesmerising. Since I’ve taken up running I’ve toyed with the idea of buying some minimalist shoes and after reading this book I went out and bought some Fila Skeletoes. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed running in them and it really does feel like I’m running barefoot added to that I’ve found that I can run quicker in these than in other trainers that I wear. McDougall states at one point that the more you spend on trainers the more problems you are likely to have. I’ve spoken to other runners about this and I’ve found, following the small amount of research I’ve done, that this generally does appear to be the case.

But at the heart of this story is the Tarahumara and Caballo Blanco. Their story combined is a book in itself but McDougall interlaces the story with research on different running styles and techniques and he does this very well as it adds depth to the story rather than takes away from it. McDougall talks a bit about a food item called pinole which is meant to be excellent for running I’ve looked up a recipe and am itching to get a batch made and give it a go.

If you’re dabbling with barefoot running or just interested in running in general then this is a must read. But you don’t have to be a runner to appreciate the story, I recommend you give it a look.

I’ve only recently finished this book and while doing some research for this review I was saddened to learn of the passing of Caballo Blanco (Micah True) in March of this year. It would appear that he died following a fall while out running over rough terrain. At the end of the day he is the true star of this book and the book itself is a great legacy left for the man known as Caballo Blanco.

Further Research:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/21/sports/caballo-blancos-last-run-the-micah-true-story.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

http://www.chrismcdougall.com/blog/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micah_True

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarahumara_people

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_McDougall

http://www.caballoblanco.com/

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