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Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen Audible – Unabridged

4.7 out of 5 stars 3,280 customer reviews

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Born to Run succeeds at three levels. First, it is a page turner. The build up to a fifty-mile foot race over some of the world's least hospitable terrain drives the narrative forward. Along the way McDougall introduces a cast of characters worthy of Dickens, including an almost superhuman ultramarathoner, Jenn and the Bonehead--a couple who down bottles of booze to warm up for a race, Barefoot Ted, Mexican drug dealers, a ghostly ex-boxer, a heartbroken father, and of course the Tarahumara, arguably the greatest runners in the world.

Born to Run is such a rip-roaring yarn, that it is easy to miss the book's deeper achievements. At a second level, McDougall introduces and explores a powerful thesis--that human beings are literally born to run. Recreational running did not begin with the 1966 publication of "Jogging" by the co-founder of Nike. Instead, McDougall argues, running is at the heart of what it means to be human. In the course of elaborating his thesis, McDougall answers some big questions: Why did our ancestors outlive the stronger, smarter Neanderthals? Why do expensive running shoes increase the odds of injury? The author's modesty keeps him from trumpeting the novelty and importance of this thesis, but it merits attention.

Finally, Born to Run presents a philosophy of exercise. The ethos that pervades recreational and competitive running--"no pain, no gain," is fundamentally flawed, McDougall argues. The essence of running should not be grim determination, but sheer joy. Many of the conventions of modern running--the thick-soled shoes, mechanical treadmills, take no prisoners competition, and heads-down powering through pain dull our appreciation of what running can be--a sociable activity, more game than chore, that can lead to adventure. McDougall's narrative moves the book forward, his thesis provides a solid intellectual support, but this philosophy of joy animates Born to Run. I hope this book finds the wide audience it deserves.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have to ditto other readers who said this book changed their life. And that is not hyperbole. Prior to reading this book I viewed myself as a fast short distance runner and I rarely, if ever, ran more than 3 miles at a time. I felt this was just the way things were and that I should accept it.

"Born to Run" completely changed my internal thought process about running. I was already aware of the running shoe issue. I've been slowly using Vibram Five Fingers for over a year and I've been trying to alter my gate from heel strike first to toe strike first. I found that it just takes patience and time to adapt in getting those muscles developed. McDougall is no liar - we've been screwed over by the running shoe companies. The first time I ran with the Vibram's I could barely walk for a week I was in so much pain. Now I can climb mountains in them.

What changed for me after reading this book was just the simple notion that I wasn't limited by some personal flaw or lack of will. I was failing to run longer distances because both my mindset and my running style were flawed. One, we can all run farther than we think. Two, don't get obsessed over speed or time, just run at a pace that feels comfortable. Your body will tell you when you can step it up a notch. In other words, just enjoy the experience.

Before I started the book my max was 3 miles with a hard push on the first two. Five weeks after reading the book I can now do 8 miles or more. I can probably do 10 or more now, but haven't pushed because I'm still working on getting those calve muscles stronger and adapted to the new running style. Don't get me wrong - I'm running slow! But wow, does it feel good. I'm enjoying running more and I feel better than ever before.
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Format: Hardcover
"Born to Run" is a revolutionary book containing an invaluable message that could change the way you think about running forever. Unfortunately, this message is buried within 282 pages of rambling narrative filled with improbable characters and punctuated with hyperbole on nearly every page.

By the time I had reached chapter 8, I had tired of the narrative and was wishing the author would simply get to the point. Where was the great stuff about "the joy of running" that other reviewers had said they'd found in this book? Where was that eye-opening screed against Nike as the company that had single-handedly destroyed running for an entire generation of runners? So I did a little digging, and I found the two chapters that addressed these topics. They were terrific! I found a couple other good ones too, that had little or nothing to do with the narrative. Then I basically skipped the remainder of the book.

As far as I'm concerned, the "must-read" chapters in this book are chapters 15, 25, 27 and 28.

Chapter 15 speaks about running for the pure joy of it. The Tarahumara Indians of Mexico who make up the main characters of this book evidently are a tribe who never forgot what a joy it is simply to run! This chapter talks about where running goes wrong for most of us - how it is that something so joyful can so easily devolve into a chore or a contest, and also how it is that America lost its dominance in distance running as soon as money entered the equation. The chapter equates love of running with love of life. It is an inspiring and thought provoking read.

Chapter 25 describes the devastating effect that Nike's invention of the running shoe has had on the sport of running, dramatically escalating the rates of injury that people suffer from running.
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