Friday, June 11, 2010

Born To Run, Christopher McDougall

As I mentioned in my post on my aching feet, I was looking for ways to strengthen my feet bones and muscles when I came across some great sites, which eventually lead me to read Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall.  It was a great read!  I'm not a runner, but I thoroughly enjoyed his narrative on some of running's best names, and esp about his time spent with the Tarahumara Indians who live in the Copper Canyon of Mexico.

And in the interest of full disclosure, I cried at the end. Not a full-blown, girly cry as at the end of Emma when Mr. Knightly professes his love to Emma (back off, I am a girl after all). But a few tears dripping down the cheek, out of relief and respect for some amazing people and the experiences they shared together. 

McDougall's blog/website is fascinating as well.  He has pictures from the marathon he talked about in the book.

McDougall is a reporter with an amazing history.  War stories and tons of backwoods stories to his name.  He says the book all started because of 5 words 'Why do my feet hurt?'.  Excellent question I thought!  He went on a search to understand why all of his attempts (and over 75% of all runners' each year) ended in pain and agony and some new physical problem he needed to rely on drugs or some other medical breakthrough to try and heal. 

The book chronicles that journey and ends with a race of some top American ultraracers against a mostly unknown tribe of runners from the Copper Canyons of Mexico.  They had some contact with the outside world, and some of them had even run some ultramarathons in the states, but mostly, they preferred to keep to themselves.  But they were known for running, gracefully and painlessly, for hundreds of miles without tiring.  And they never seemed to get sick or hurt.  They were at mile 75 of a race, smiling and thoroughly enjoying themselves. It was an altogether fabulous, compelling read, even for a non-runner who had little background info to glean from while reading it. 

The overall theme of the book is that barefoot running is the best way to run, and running for joy is the reason to run. 

Quoting 'Barefoot Ken Bob' "Shoes block pain, not impact!  Pain teaches us to run comfortably!  From the moment you start going barefoot, you will change the way you run."

I loved this exchange of the man in charge of the race and the Americans who were running.
"We shrugged, dropped our packs, and lifted our hands.
"If I get hurt, lost, or die," Caballo began.
"If I get hurt, lost, or die," we chanted.
"It's my own damn fault."
"It's my own damn fault."

There was a LOT of language, so be forewarned if you decide to read it.  While I won't put up with language in a 'novel' of little value to me.  I did glean a lot of great info from this book, and really, it widened by world view of sorts.  So it was worth that nuisance.

He was also big on the 'low-fat, animals products are evil', which I disagree with most heartily.  But he did talk about Iskiate, a chia lime drink the Tarahumara used for energy drinks during their long runs.  I'd love to look more into it.  I found this post on it.  I'm guessing the Indians actually fermented their chia seeds, but I don't know how to find out, and there was no interest in that aspect.

Now I want to study the Tarahumara and the way they run, and the way they eat...and...  :)

I'm fairly certain I'll never read the book again, but I am really glad I read it once and I'm excited to learn more about barefoot running/lifestyle.  It was definitely a spring-board for my research into that 'world'.  Hopefully I'll glean some great stuff and get a stronger over-all body from it.

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