Book Notes: Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I am runner. I didn’t start until age 50, so I am making up for lost time. I just finished a fascinating book on running by Christopher McDougall. It is called Born to Run. At the end of this post, I will tell you how to get a copy free.

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McDougall begins his book with the question that almost all recreational runners inevitably ask, “Why does my foot hurt?” I have personally suffered through bouts of plantar fasciitis and a pulled Achilles tendon. What I didn’t realize until I read this book is that 70% of all recreational runners will experience at least one running injury every year.

In McDougall’s case, his doctors told him he should stop running. According to them, he wasn’t really built for the sport and should consider doing something else to stay in shape. He didn’t really like that answer, so he embarked on a quest to see if he couldn’t solve his problem.

Over the next several months, he interviewed endurance runners, sports physiologists, and even anthropologists. He also discovered the Tarahumara Indians of northern Mexico’s Copper Canyon. These indigenous people are renown for their ability to run long distances—often 50–200 miles at a time! It is not unusual for them to run into old age, some even running into their nineties. Yet, they rarely experience running injuries and seem to love traversing extreme terrain.

In stark contrast, he took an objective look at modern runners and, in particular, the modern running industry. What he discovers is startling. For example:

  • 25% of all the bones in your body are in your foot. It is an engineering marvel, unrivaled in the animal world.
  • Running injuries were essentially unknown until the invention of the modern running shoe in 1972.
  • Not only is there a direct correlation between running shoes and running injuries, the more expensive the shoe, the more likely you will be injured.

The solution that McDougall discovers is at once both simple and obvious. I won’t give it away in this review because it is in large part the focus of the book. Let’s just say that it has turned my running world upside down. I have realized that most of what I believed about running was completely wrong-headed.

Thanks to the good people at Knopf Publishers, I have 24 copies of the book to give away. To get a chance at snagging one, you must take the following two actions:

  1. Leave a comment below. Tell me why you want this book. C’mon: be creative.
  2. Fill out your shipping information in the special form I have set up for this book.

On Wednesday, I will select 24 people, based solely on my arbitrary and subjective evaluation of their comments. If you are one of those selected, I will notify you via email. If you don’t hear from me, you can assume you didn’t make the cut.

Warning: If you are offended by rough language, this book is not for you.

Question: Why do you want this book? (You know you do!)

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