Review: Born to Run by Christopher Mcdougall

Born to Run by Christopher Mcdougall

The book, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, by Christopher Mcdougall, is now a bestseller and is also now in paperback. Mcdougall is a runner and former journalist with a compelling literary style that he intertwines with scientific research regarding running shoes, running techniques, and running injuries in order to put forth a compelling argument on the ramifications of going against our fundamental design. This book is one of several recent books about barefoot running.

As an avid runner once plagued by painful and reoccurring injuries, Christopher Mcdougall's quest begins with a seemingly simple yet multi-faceted question: why does my foot hurt? In his search for a more efficient way to continue to do what he loves, he travels to the Mexican Copper Canyons - six distinct canyons located in the southwestern part of the state of Chihuahua, in Mexico. It is there that Mcdougall tracks down and studies members of the Tarahumara indigenous people and begins to notice that their lack of modern running shoes make them better runners. With help from one member of the tribe, Caballo Blanco, Mcdougall becomes enraptured by the spirit of Tarahumara running as he marvels at the fact that they run for enjoyment, to hunt and for spiritual fulfillment. He begins to study Tarahumara running routines and the Tarahumara running technique. Though there are many quirky and interesting characters throughout the book, Caballo Blanco is the center of Mcdougall's attention.

Christopher Mcdougall uncovers the secrets to the Tarahumara running technique in order to become an extreme athlete and runner himself. The Tarahumara have the ability to run long distances up to 100 miles while retaining amazing speeds. What is truly amazing is their lack of the common running injuries and foot ailments that frustrate and afflict modern athletes and runners. By modeling the Tarahumara running technique, Christopher Mcdougall uncovers secrets that lead him to develop distinctive traits for efficient, long-distance running. The author adheres to the endurance running hypothesis which states that certain adaptations and characteristics exhibited by humans today are the result of adaptation to long distance running derived from the need to run down prey. Mcdougall witnessed these characteristics in the Tarahumara tribe who will run after an animal during a hunt until the animal tires and overheats and is easily killed. As Mcdougall uncovers Tarahumara running techniques and secrets, he begins to train. The book details a fifty-mile challenge throughout the treacherous Tarahumara countryside, as he lines up an interesting array of Americans, including a barefoot running guru, a renowned ultra marathoner, and a young surfer - against members of the Tarahumara tribe.

Since the original release of Born to Run, an ongoing debate about barefoot running has developed amongst runners, scholars and scientists, with new studies and numerous new books on the whole idea of running without shoes or with minimalist shoes. The basis for the barefoot running thesis is that our bodies, especially our feet and legs are equipped to run barefoot. The Tarahumara wear a thin, primal sandals called huaraches and yet do not endure running injuries. Research currently being conducted hypothesizes that running with shoes causes more injuries than barefoot running.

Born to Run by Christopher Mcdougall was on the New York Times Best Seller List for four months. Mcdougall has promoted Born to Run on ABC News, Good Morning America, CNN, Google Talk, and in Time Magazine, The Boston Globe, Parade Magazine and many others. If you're a runner or are thinking of taking up the sport or you're simply fascinated by human anatomy and ability, Born to Run is a must read.


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