When his knee continually bothered him while running, journalist Christopher McDougall wasn’t satisfied with the answers doctors and specialists were giving him. Orthotics and spring-loaded shoes weren’t solving his conundrum, and it didn’t make sense that he should need to give up running altogether. So he did what any good journalist would do, and set out to find out (and report) why others of his build and age could run for what seemed like forever and never grow tired of it or feel pain. His journey took him to high altitude ultra-marathons in the United States, and then to the Mexican Copper River Canyon where he encountered the Tarahumara Indian super-athletes Along the way, McDougall found his answer, along with a lifelong love for ultra running, just for the sheer enjoyment of it. He chronicles this fascinating story in Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen.
This book drew me in with my love for anthropology, science, and medicine. (Though, before reading this book, I told people, “I like the effects of running, not necessarily running itself”.) Like, McDougall, I also have a “bad knee,” and orthotics haven’t been helping. As a result, reading this book saved me about $150. (I took back my recently-purchased, tested-mostly-indoors, heavily-cushioned, arch-supported shoes that still weren’t helping my knee pain. These, I had purchased after custom-made orthotics weren’t working, either.)
McDougall is a strong advocate for “barefoot running,” and this theme is prevalent throughout the book. Thorough, and somewhat convincing explanations are given as to why the body works best this way. To clarify, barefoot running doesn’t necessarily mean no shoes at all.
McDougall’s conclusion is that humans were made for running, and we do it best when we allow our bodies to do so using their natural biomechanics. As a Christian, the heavy and frequent references to evolutionary biology are simply an indicator of our intelligent, creative Designer.
Those who do not consider themselves to be passionate athletes (myself included, in spite of my brief high school athletic career and current cardiovascular endeavors) will still likely find this book, and McDougall’s writing style, compelling. But likely, readers will also be ready to hit the trail afterwards, at least for one good run.
And if you do love to run, you’ll like find the book full of inspiring, compelling quotes.
(No table of contents for this book.)