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Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen Paperback – March 29, 2011
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"A tale so mind-blowing as to be the stuff of legend." —The Denver Post
"McDougall's book reminded me of why I love to run." —Bill Rodgers, San Francisco Chronicle
"Fascinating. . . . Thrilling. . . . An operatic ode to the joys of running." —The Washington Post
“It’s a great book. . . . A really gripping read. . . .Unbelievable story . . . a really phenomenal book.” —Jon Stewart on The Daily Show
"One of the most entertaining running books ever." —Amby Burfoot, Runnersworld.com
“Equal parts quest, physiology treatise, and running history. . . . [McDougall] seeks to learn the secrets of the Tarahumara the old-fashioned way: He tracks them down. . . . The climactic race reads like a sprint. . . . It simply makes you want to run.” —Outside Magazine
“McDougall recounts his quest to understand near superhuman ultra-runners with adrenaline pumped writing, humor and a distinct voice...he never lets go from his impassioned mantra that humans were born to run.” —NPR
“Born to Run is a fascinating and inspiring true adventure story, based on humans pushing themselves to the limits. It’s destined to become a classic.”–Sir Ranulph Fiennes, author of Mad, Bad and Dangerous To Know
“Equal parts hilarity, explanation and earnestness—whisks the reader along on a compelling dash to the end, and along the way captures the sheer joy that a brisk run brings.” —Science News
“Born to Run is funny, insightful, captivating, and a great and beautiful discovery.” —Lynne Cox, author of Swimming to Antarctica
“A page-turner, taking the reader on an epic journey in search of the world’s greatest distance runners in an effort to uncover the secrets of their endurance.” —The Durango Herald
“Driven by an intense yet subtle curiosity, Christopher McDougall gamely treads across the continent to pierce the soul and science of long-distance running.”—Hampton Sides, author of Blood and Thunder and Ghost Soldiers
About the Author
Christopher McDougall is available for select readings and lectures. To inquire about a possible appearance, please contact Random House Speakers Bureau at email@example.com or visit www.rhspeakers.com.
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And, as any great read might do it allowed me to feel connected, however remotely, to interesting peoples; and exotic places I probably wouldn't've ever been able to imagine existed no matter how many more years I might live.
More importantly, to me personally; it was what made me aware of: the existence and potential benefits of minimalist footwear; and, the absurdity of the school of thought that would have us believe nature's evolutionary design success with the human foot can be vastly improved by a plethora of modern footwear gimmickry. And lastly, how transitioning back to nature's time-tested, time-proven way (barefoot) might actually reset one's ambulatory infrastructure to where it's meant to be in the first place — the place it took a significant long two million years or so to leisurely perfect on its own.
In fact: the wealth of somewhat esoteric information in this book proved to be an unparalleled revelation which provided me with fresh insights fundamental to my particular set of circumstances at that time.
The key reason being; that although I've never actually suffered from plantar fasciitis or related knee injuries; as a teenager I was thrown off a galloping horse that stopped abruptly, and I landed on a fallen tree in a mountain wilderness area; sustaining multiple, grievous internal injuries due to the ensuing trauma. One of the worst, besides being diagnosed with hypogycemia and hypoadrenocorticism [aka secondary adrenal insufficiency], was a herniated lumbar disc which I've painfully had to deal with for most of my adult life. Walking, running, and sometimes even just standing at some kind of work-station or another has at times caused me severe and disabling lumbar spasms.
The point is, after reading about the Tarahumara and the running-shoe industry; I decided to purchase a pair of zero-drop shoes (aka foot-gloves) and soon started the transition period. Walking for an hour or so each day to start with and slowly increasing the time as quickly as I deemed prudent.
After about three months I was up to ten miles a day (on a good day) and felt the physical transition to be mostly complete at that time.
It was then I tossed my expensive running shoes into the trash; along with my very expensive shoe orthotic inserts; and have never looked back. It's been about six years now since my last visit to an Osteopath or Chiropractor (yeah, for real!).
Astonishingly, other than some recent lower back pain from sleeping on a soft, worn-out mattress my bad disc has mostly been behaving its otherwise typically fickle-self for almost every day of those six years.
Nor am I flatfooted by any means either! My arches have remained as healthily high, and every bit as strong (probably much stronger) as they ever were, and this without any arch-support whatsoever thank you very much.
Neither am I otherwise suffering from any other sort of chronic foot/knee pain, even though I frequently walk for miles at a time (love walking now more than ever); and even jog a bit on occasion.
And although I still prefer my bicycle for serious "endorphin hunting" (the only thing I've ever been hopelessly addicted to in my entire life); walking/jogging now feel decidedly better than they did with typical athletic-type shoes before transitioning. Indeed, this totally sordid business of genuinely needing arch-supports in modern shoes seems like an enormously cruel joke to me now. To be clear: the irony here being that apparently, the exact reasons I perceived requiring their dubious benefits in the first place; were primarily due to the fact (lumbar disc issues aside) that the footwear I've been beguiled into enduring most of my life was indeed the biggest, most pernicious joke of all!
To conclude: after delving into Christopher McDougall's Born to Run for the second time this decade, one of my takeaways is that; it's not just a book for runners, elite or otherwise. It's also an entertaining book for the open-minded everyman with an adventurous spirit.
Distance running is the fountain of youth (if done correctly), and this book both inspires you to run and gives you tips on how to run without hurting your body.
Top international reviews
Honestly one of the best books I've ever read. I didn't really know what to expect when I bought this but my god can Christopher Mcdougall write. Highly recommended.
As a relatively new runner I came to this book via Chris's youtube posts and ted talk. I had no idea what is was about. i can see why it is a bestseller. This is a great mix of yarn spinning and the history of human running. The research and scientific discoveries are presented in a very consumable and entertaining way.
The book just makes you want to ditch the garmin, the £100 trainers and the rest of the kit we as runners consider indispensable nowadays and just get out there wearing nothing but a smile.
If you aren't a runner at all or only an occasional runner I think you'd enjoy the story of the author's journey in Mexico to find this elusive tribe of running people and the organising of an epic 50 mile race (interesting side note, they were actually featured in Joel and Nish v The World on Comedy Central recently, so they can't be that elusive anymore).
The story of many great runners, most of them forgotten, all of them could run very long distances... Ultra-marathons in absolutely horrific terrain and conditions. There is so much good stuff in this book, I will not spoil the details. Apart from ancient tribes mentioned on the cover, there are run aways, challengers, hunters and even world famous scientists discovering how running played critical part in survival of many species, and how homo sapiens are superior in this regard. Running techniques to avoid injuries are broadly discussed in this book as well.
I highly recommend this book to anyone, especially non-runners. It's an easy read, stories are really absorbing, and you will definitely learn few things from it.
I would be very surprised if anybody didn't start running after reading this book.
I loved the author’s quest to find out how he could run faster, and the places and people this quest took him to. So many fab characters introduced to the reader through the pages, and the Tarahumara - just amazing people!
I’m not a runner, more a once a year jogger, but loved this and felt inspired to lace up my trainers. And the anthropological aspect of the book is fab too. Am recommending it to everyone!
Apart from the story itself, the bits on the evolution of humans and the science of running are really interesting. Also, the part on the facts of a foot's anatomy is helpful and informative. He also points out how a mid-foot strike point in stride is the best way to run.
On a personal note, I have always been a relatively short distance runner who constantly suffers from injury. But this book opened up my eyes to a whole new world. It was the start of my education into a new way of running. As a result, I have changed my shoes, gait and how my foot lands on the ground. And I am better for it.
This is a great book for runners and non-runners alike. I would be surprised if it didn't inspire a large percentage of readers into throwing out their trainers and giving a barefoot run a go.
We ran through thick mud and deep puddles for another 5K and he not only kept up with us but slowed down for us! I was really impressed with the shoes. Before he left us to return home (10K further) he told us to buy "born to run".
Which we promply did and read. In a nutshell, the first quarter of the book is interesting, occasionnally dragging for too long and really diverting from the topic but the rest of the book is amazing. It is a journey shared that you never want to end.
I used to think that entering a half-marathon race once a year or a few 10Ks was an achievement or that running a couple of 5Ks a week with a 10K over the weekend was good going at my age (soon to be 50. How wrong was I! I have been plagued with injuries most of my life and this book in as little as two months, has changed both my wife's and my life.
My wife is asthmatic and with very poor lung capacity, the most she has ever ran up to two month ago was 10K and that is with numerous breaks. Only last Sunday, she vanished with the dogs and came back a while later having ran 10 miles, 60% more than she had ever ran. I now run between 10 and 15K three to four times a week, before going to work, whilst my wife run slighlty less distance (but catching up!)
and tops up her runs with several spinning classes. We also a longer run up to and occasionnally longer than a half marathon every Sundays. All without injuries.
This book really breaks the boundaries. I now know that running a marathon is a mild achievement relatively easy to reach. I also know that my horizon has changed as I know I can achieve greater distances without getting injured. My new target is a 50 miles run, then I'll see how I feel and might carry on...
It is all about self belief, the correct running technique and the right pair of shoes.
I love running anyway, but did find this book affirming to go for the longer distances (at whatever age) without being a dry "how to" tomb. I am now looking with great suspicion at my Nike Free running shoes however...
I have only just started to run at 63 years old and I'm running in sandals. ( so comfortable )
I don't think I could run in trainers, they just don't feel right.
I never know how a Rabbit or cheetah breath while sprinting until reading this book.
Great read !!!!