Thursday, July 9, 2015

Book Review

Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?-- Frida Kahlo

Born to Run : A hidden tribe, super athletes, and the greatest race the world has never seen
Christopher McDougall

Born to Run was a pleasant surprise. Overall, it is a true story that smartly adds drama and intrigue without losing the original idea. The original idea, I believe, is to tell the reader about an amazing people  with amazing abilities. Christopher McDougall plays an integral role in how the book plays out but he masterfully keeps himself out of the limelight from beginning to end.

The author gives background as to why he decided to seek out the legendary "Running People" the Tarahumara or Raramuri. McDougall, like the majority of runners, found himself oft injured. Heard about these Native Americans living in Mexico that could run forever and never get injured so he went on a mission to find the secret sauce.

In his search he met amazing people. The beauty of the book is how he gave human stories, historical fact, and scientific information. He seamlessly and organically kept the story moving by connecting one small piece and then giving that small piece an entire chapter to explain its significance. There were so many characters that at times I forgot that it was all true. The book is a historical account dressed as a novel.

Chapter fifteen changed my running life. It is also the chapter when he really began to reveal the secrets to running well, healthy, and for a long period of time. Although there was little mention of short distances much of his discoveries had application to all forms of running.

Born to Run, as I learned the more I read, is a story for ultra runners and folks that love running in general. The Tarahumara ran for pleasure as well as for life. They ran from intruders, they ran after food, and they ran to get from point A to point B even at 200 miles. This is not telling the story of the blazing fast track people. He does touch on some track legends like Jesse Owens but sprinters have no place at the table here. 

Many track legends of coaching like Joe Vigil, Arthur Lydiard, Vin Lanana, and Bill Bowerman are peppered throughout the story and he does a great job keeping all of them on equal footing. Bowerman did seem to get the short end of the stick in regards to the other coaches.

I would recommend reading this book because of the interesting characters, historical accuracy and scientific fact. I was surprised because I expected more of a reference guide instead of a story that continued to build impulse before letting you in on the secrets. Once you knew the secrets, you didn't get an aha moment because the book pulled you in to make the discovery by adding up the pieces and presenting it by letting you provide the answers.

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