Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Born to run

I just finished Christopher McDougall's book Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. What an awesome book. I hated to finish it.

McDougall is a former war correspondent for the Associated Press and is now a contributing editor for Men's Health magazine. The book came about as a result of years of running... and getting injured. So he started a quest to find out, "Why does my foot hurt?" The answer took him to the Copper Canyons of Mexico and into the world of ultra-runners. So the book is part auto-biography, part science, part training, and wholly entertaining.

A friend suggested this book to me as we were discussing running marathon's one night. It is packed full of facts about running, running injuries, the problem with running shoes, and how to go about learning to run correctly. There are also tales of the Tarahumara Indians (the "running people") as well as other wild and crazy super-athletes.

As someone presently suffering with plantar fasciitis, it was especially encouraging. According to the author (as well as many others) the biggest cause of running injuries today is... running shoes. Running shoes are made to make money, not to make us better runners. But another main reason we struggle so much is that we don't know HOW to run properly.

One lesson the author learned was to think Easy, Light, Smooth, and Fast. If we can run easy, light and smooth, then we will naturally become faster. He actually has a video HERE. I was brought up thinking we should try to take giant strides, and with the whole "no pain, no gain" idea. These people teach almost the exact opposite. We should run like it's fun, because - as they promote - the human body was actually MADE to run. As one guy noted, after viewing hours of videos of the greatest Kenyon runners, he was struck by a revelation: "The greatest marathoners in the world run like kindergarteners." He says, "Watch kids at a playground running around. Their feet land right under them, and they push back... Kenyans do the same thing..." Another way to think of it is... bend your knees, take bird steps, and attempt to leave no trace (easy, light, smooth).

Anyway, I could probably go on for some time. There was a lot of talk about the advantages of barefoot running, or running in sandals. I don't know if I am up for that yet, but it did get me excited about running, and I think I learned how to run better. It was also just a highly entertaining book - especially for someone who runs. I would recommend it for anyone. A great read.