Roads Rivers and Trails

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Book Review: Born to Run

Secrets of The Copper Canyons
Book Review: Born To Run by Christopher McDougall
Written by: Bryan Wolf

I seldom have the time to read, but a nine hour car drive was looking me in the eyes and promising to be every bit as boring as you’d expect Pennsylvania toll roads to be.  About a month ago, I decided that the first step to reading a book was buying it: so after many recommendations I picked up my own copy of Born To Run.  Despite my obsession with minimalist running and countless conversations on the topic I had not yet read the book that turned so many people onto natural running.  So I bought the book and immediately put it on the shelf next to the others.  Glancing over my collection of half-read books I realized that step one isn’t my problem, nor is step-two where I open the book.  I needed to commit to finishing one of them, and stubbornly I chose the one that had not yet been started.

I’m somebody who enjoys short stories, and I’ll jump into one after another every day.  Born To Run captured me with just that; I read this book one story at a time. The author captured me in not just one place or one period but in stories that travel the globe and date back to our early evolution as a species. Instead of drifting off in neck-twisting sleep or playing pointless games on my smartphone, I sunk myself in what I would now call my new favorite book.  When we first stopped for a bathroom break, I was several chapters in and couldn’t stop talking about it.  I searched for a placeholder and found only some thin fast food napkins tucked in the van console.  Chapter after chapter I proudly shoved the napkin back into the book.  I’d set the book at my feet to marvel at the story I had just been told.  When I had replayed the entire story back in my head I was drawn to the book again; “What happens next?!”

So how is this a gear review? I think that this may be the best gear review yet, because we already have the needed gear: It’s your body. This book is about the very fantastic and complicated make-up of our bodies, our evolution, and our history as a running people.  I wrote an article before reading this book, already exclaiming my passion and love for running in minimalist shoes, and I’ll attach it at the bottom of the review.  The book didn’t help me discover being barefoot, nor did it help me discover running, it did, however, help me identify why and how I embraced minimalism.

The author, much renowned, travels in search of the “White Horse” or “Caballo Blanco”.  His journey takes him into the Copper Canyons of Mexico and close to peoples that have been nearly untouched by modern civilization; the Tarahumara.  His friendship with this ghost of a man, Caballo, not only opens his story but it opens his world up to one of pain-free and natural motion. Through this journey the author himself becomes twisted in a world of ultra-marathons and ultra-marathoners where he discovers what propels each of us to run both physically and mentally.  He follows leads to interview lead biologists, anthropologists, doctors, runners, coaches, corporations, and Olympians.  All signs point in one overwhelming direction: we were born to run.

If you enjoy running but suffer from injuries (like the vast majority of runners every year), or if you are looking for the passion in running and can’t seem to find it I would seriously recommend this book.  For those of you that have found the thrill of minimalist running I have formed a facebook group under the group name “Raramuri” for sharing minimalist insights, suggestions, and posting group runs.  Or on Meet-up.com under “Raramuri Minimalist Running”.  Raramuri means “the running people” and was the original name of the Tarahumara.  You can pick up your copy of “The Guide to the Outdoors” free publication or your own copy of Born To Run at Roads Rivers and Trails in downtown Milford, Ohio.

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