Are You Born To Run?
This past week I finally got around to finishing the book that has carried an entire movement of fitness on its back. Born To Run by Christopher McDougall has changed many a runners ideas about health, footwear and endurance. I don’t know if this book has changed my life yet, but it certainly gave me a lot to think about.
The story starts with the author, a freelance writer, meeting with doctors about his running related issues. Thus begins his quest to find out how some runners seem to stay healthy and why the rest of us are plagued with bad feet, sore knees and generally painful running. Chris wants to love running, but doesn’t. He keeps getting hurt as he painfully builds up his mileage. He watches and reads, in awe, about athletes running not just marathons, but 50 and 100-mile races. Not only is the mileage extreme; the race conditions are down right insane. Would you want to race through Death Valley all day and night? What secrets do the ultra runners of our time have up their sleeves? The hunt to be a healthy person who loves to run sets the author on a journey to some of America’s best doctors, trainers, and the remote Copper Canyons of Mexico.
Mexico? What can the canyons of Mexico have to do with running? Well, the Barrancas hold an incredible tribe of natives called the Tarahumara, or “Running People”. The Tarahumara run, but not like the rest of us. The run in tire soled sandals for miles on end with no goos or power bars. They run as children until they are old men and women, powered by simple foods and corn beer.
As the story unfolds you come to know an amazing band of runners, some of America’s top ultra runners, and some respected Tarahumaras. The two groups meet in a race to end all races in the Copper Canyons. As the author builds up to race himself, more miles than he has ever ran, he shares what he is learning about running form, footwear and fuel. I won’t spoil all the conclusions of the book and the race, but I will say it inspired my own running and gave me some things to experiment with.
I have been slowly moving away from my super padded Nike running shoes and have now decided I am going to give this barefoot style a try. I use my Inov-8 F-Lite 195’s (in patriotic red, white, and blue) for my gym workouts. Yesterday I tried some of the running form talked about in Born to Run and I have to say it felt great. I felt fresh when I usually am dead and ran about half of my course up a pretty decent size hill. I usually am nervous to wear the minimal shoes on the road, although I have run quite a few trails in my 195’s this was my first real road run in them. My feet felt, and feel, great and I really had no issues with soreness. I ran cross-country in high school and always had a bad left knee and shin splints, so far so good with my 195’s. I can’t want to get a more rugged trail version, maybe the Roclite 268 or the new TrailRoc 235 which has zero drop?
I guess I am a skeptic and have to figure it all out on my own, but so far my experiments have turned out positively. My running has been more fun and not quite so hard. I am excited to keep increasing my miles on the trail and the road. I definitely recommend Born to Run, it was a page-turner that makes you think along the way!