In search of an answer, Christopher McDougall sets off to find a tribe of the world's greatest distance runners and learn their secrets, and in the process shows us that everything we thought we knew about running is wrong.
Isolated by the most savage terrain in North America, the reclusive Tarahumara Indians of Mexico's deadly Copper Canyons are custodians of a lost art. For centuries they have practiced techniques that allow them to run hundreds of miles without rest and chase down anything from a deer to an Olympic marathoner while enjoying every mile of it. Their superhuman talent is matched by uncanny health and serenity, leaving the Tarahumara immune to the diseases and strife that plague modern existence.
With the help of Caballo Blanco, a mysterious loner who lives among the tribe, the author was able not only to uncover the secrets of the Tarahumara but also to find his own inner ultra-athlete, as he trained for the challenge of a lifetime: a 50-mile race through the heart of Tarahumara country pitting the tribe against an odd band of Americans, including a star ultramarathoner, a beautiful young surfer, and a barefoot wonder.
With a sharp wit and wild exuberance, McDougall takes us from the high-tech science labs at Harvard to the sun-baked valleys and freezing peaks across North America, where ever-growing numbers of ultrarunners are pushing their bodies to the limit, and, finally, to the climactic race in the Copper Canyons.
Born to Run is that rare book that will not only engage your mind but inspire your body when you realize that the secret to happiness is right at your feet, and that you, indeed all of us, were born to run.
©2009 Knopf; (P)2009 Random House
"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)
"Hugely entertaining. . . . One of the most joyful and engaging books about running to appear for many years." (The Irish Times)
A terrific ride, recommended for any athlete." (Kirkus)
If you run you owe it to yourself to download this book. McDougall's account of The Greatest Ultra Race never seen and character profiles of those involved kept a smile on my face through several runs of my own. Through his eyes, you are given the chance to experience this race, and educated about ultra running enough along the way to appreciate every thing and everyone involved. The pacing of the book isn't fast, more like the pace of ultra race the author describes, but it is about perfect for this story. The second half of the book, takes a turn toward wonkiness as McDougall describes barefooting, nutrition, et all, but, when he finally returns to the story, the characters and the race, it makes for a very rewarding conclusion. I was very glad I found and listened to this book. On On.
This is probably the best Audible experience I've had to date. I couldn't stop listening- between a couple of morning runs and a weekend of painting the bathroom with my headphones on, I listened to the entire book in three days. Great descriptions of why people run (and what is wrong with the sport), but any non-runners will have no problem enjoying this. The real-life personalities are so interesting, I found my self constantly at my computer looking for internet photos to match the faces with the story. The settings for much of this book are fascinating in themselves- imagine running races that last more than a day, through environments reminiscent of Raiders of the Lost Arc!
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
Even if you're not a runner (I am), I defy you not to be hooked by the opening two chapters. The story of a lost tribe of super-runners, living in a remote corner of Mexico, sounds like almost too much of a tall tale to be true. Can they really run for 30 hours straight, at a blazing pace, over grueling terrain, wearing no more than sandals on their feet? And they actually *enjoy* doing this? Why has the rest of the world not heard of these Tarahumara?
Rather than jump straight to his research and its conclusions, McDougall starts at the moment he heard of the reclusive indigenous group and brings the reader along on his journey of discovery, with its detective work, oddball characters, and side adventures. Along the way, we learn about the Tarahumara's unique culture and history, the equally strange world of ultra-marathoners, and the evolution of running both as a sport and as, well, evolution. These discoveries lead McDougall to a lot of intriguing questions that will no doubt put this work on runners' bookshelves for years to come. Are modern, cushioned running shoes actually bad for you? Is leg shock good for you? Are humans actually programmed by their genes to be endurance runners? Is the conventional wisdom of coaches, doctors, and nutritionists about running wrong?
With his glib, dude-next-door writing style, McDougall never entirely gets to the bottom of many of the questions he raises (and maybe displays a little too much of a feel-good attitude about the Tarahumara's poverty-stricken lives), but the intertwining stories of the runners he meets are so interesting that I doubt too many readers will mind. By the last section of the book, which features a race between Tarahumara runners and several of America's best ultra-marathoners, on the former's home turf, far from any ESPN camera crews, I'd forgotten all about foot mechanics and hunter-gatherer tactics, and just wanted to know what would happen next.
So much to learn, and so little time to sit down and read. Thanks Audible.
Born to Run was a very fun book to read, and full of amazing characters, but what I loved the most were all the nuggets of interesting and useful information sandwiched into the story (i.e. studies on the value of running shoes, the superfood Chia seeds, the backgrounds of successful ultra distance runners). I'm sure it starting to annoy my wife how much I cite things from this book, but it's too good not to share it.
In addition to being an interesting book with tons of good info, it was incredibly well written, and the authors humor is spot on.
I can honestly say that this book made more of an impact on my lifestyle than anything else I've ever read or listened to. This book is not preachy nor is it a self help book. It is simply an interesting story (non-fiction) that inadvertantly lights a fire inside of you. As a result of reading this book, I'm much more active, I eat healthier, and I've lost a lot of weight. Best of all - it's a great read. If you're reading this review right now, do yourself a favour and buy this book!
Coffee and a Book Chick
The full title is key to understanding everything this book has to offer. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. What you don't know from that title, though, is that you do not have to be a runner to get caught up in this story and be completely fascinated.
Born to Run is known as one of *the* books to read in the running community. McDougall's tale of an unknown tribe and the athletes who wanted to keep up with them is succinct and fascinating, and no stone is unturned as he analyzes his own running techniques. Reviewing controversial insights into the "right" shoe to wear, the "right" form, and his experiences with the ultrarunning athletes who are wildly impressive (and just plain crazy) kept me up late, rapt with attention. (Ultrarunners are those who complete distances further than the marathon distance of 26.2 miles. In fact, what is normally considered a minimum ultrarun, according to Ultrarunning's site, is 31.07 miles (a 50k), and extending all the way to 100 miles. There are even events that go for days, not just distances.)
All runners experience injuries and McDougall is no different. When his foot hurt, doctors advised a break. He kept running, and with the help of the mysterious Caballo Blanco, met the Tarahumara tribe of Mexico who easily run extreme distances daily, mileages that will make your jaw drop. They blew me away, I admit. Could anyone easily run a distance from New York to Detroit within a couple of days and not be completely destroyed? Probably not. But the Tarahumra tribe can. And when they run, they wear thin soled sandals that go against everything you were taught to believe about the "right" running shoe. Sometimes, the tribe even run barefoot and still, no issues.
The audio book is a perfect choice to listen to while running, especially if you're like me and don't like to listen to music. I was motivated to get out there and feel inspired by the ultrarunning legends, and the talents of the Tarahumara tribe. Born to Run will definitely be on my list of best books read in 2012, and I will be referring to this book several times over for motivation and insight. Whether you think you are "built for it" or not, you may become convinced we really were born to run, and to run long distances at that.
Interesting fact from the book: We were faster in the 1970s. Six amateur men in a local running group could break a 2:12 marathon mark, but in 2000 we didn't have any US marathoner in the Olympics who would have been able to meet that time. In fact, for the men's marathon, we finished in 69th place. Could it be the way shoes are made nowadays? The Tarahumara go barefoot a lot.
Runners and non-runners: You can't go wrong with this incredible story of Christopher McDougall's quest to understand running that first started because he wanted to find out why his foot hurt. In fact, those who don't run may actually be inspired to go for a short run. I would recommend that. After all, you might surprise yourself.
A wonderful book that is well read. I have little interest in running, but I continually made excuses for listening to this book.
I tend to download books to listen to while I run. Out of all the books which I have listened, this book was the most motivating. McDougall touches on all of the reasons I enjoy running. Listening to this book I found it easy to push through that extra mile or two.
I really enjoyed this book. It is by far one of the best listens out there. I found myself looking for chores/tasks to do that would give me an excuse to keep listening to the book. Well written, funny and educational.
Born To Run kept me awake at night and got me back to running - which is quite exceptional. It's insights, narrative talent and richness of content are pure joy. I have never liked watching sport on TV, for the first time I was hanged at narration of a race. Must read/listen, trust me
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