Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall (review)

Title: Born to Run
Author: Christopher McDougall
Illustrator: N/A
Kindle Locations: 5,284 (about 300 pages)
Genre: Non-Fiction
eISBN: 978-0-307-27191-4
Cost: $9.99

This is the best book I have read all year. Not only does it motivate you, it also educates you while providing entertainment.
Next time you line up for a Turkey Trot, look at the runners on your right and left: statistically, only one of you will be back for the Jingle Bell Jog.
McDougall does a great job in stepping you through a story of how he stumbled onto an ancient tribe of natives in Mexico that run. And by run, I mean they run. Not a few miles, but tens and even hundreds of miles. And they run fast. Up and down hills. After a night of drinking. And, well, you get the picture.
“Here were these little guys wearing sandals who never actually trained for the race. And they blew away some of the best long-distance runners in the world.”
McDougall does a good job in splitting the story lines between his own running journey, the Tarahumara Indians, and the mysterious contact he found while searching for the Tarahumara. Along the way, the reader learns about the natives, Mexico, and why they have become an endangered civilization. Readers also get some running history and a heavy dose of insane runners (sometimes called ultra runners) and their habits.
That shock victory was the beginning of a scorching streak. Ann went on to become the female champion of the Western States 100— the Super Bowl of trail-running—-fourteen times, a record that spans three decades and makes Lance Armstrong, with his piddlin’ little seven Tour de France wins, look like a flash in the pan. And a pampered flash in the pan, at that: Lance never pedaled a stroke without a team of experts at his elbow to monitor his caloric intake and transmit microsecond split analyses into his earbud, while Ann only had her husband, Carl, waiting in the woods with a Timex and half a turkey sandwich.
Throughout the story, I was struck profoundly by many things. Some were biological, some physiological, and some philosophical. In the end, my idea of running has been transformed into something I have not quite figured out yet. But it is deeper than what it once was. This book did not make me a faster runner. But I do hope I can apply what I learned to become a better runner. Not necessarily faster, but better.

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