Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

I am getting a little behind on posting book reviews.  Last week was my week for posting reviews to my library system’s book recommendation blog so I wasn’t really in the mood to do more book blogging when I got home in the evening.  Now that I’m done with that, I can get back to reviews here. 

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, running has taken over my life for the last few months.  Recently, I started listening to more books on my iPod while running.  My library subscribes to Overdrive, a digital download service for audio books.  The first book I downloaded – no surprise here – is a running book, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super Athletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall.

At the beginning of the book, McDougall states that his purpose in writing the book was to answer the question, “Why do my feet hurt?”  The book really ends up being about the legendary Tarahumara tribe in the Copper Canyons of Mexico and the more infamous members of the modern American ultrarunning community.  I found the stories of the races McDougall describes to be gripping, but the book suffered from a loss of focus in sections.  While listening, there were times when I had to try to figure out who he was writing about because he changed focus so quickly.  As a journalist, he is adept at describing the action in the races and locations.  I found myself listening long after I got back from a run to find out who the winner of a race would be.

Although unfocused at times, McDougall succeeds in arguing for a more childlike and fun approach to running.  His scientific interludes were interesting because scientists are finding that the human body is meant to run, even though modern running shoes may cause us to stride incorrectly.  I am not sure that I will convert to barefoot running, but I will try a few steps barefoot to see how my stride is different.  A recent study published in the peer-reviewed science journal, Nature, purports that athletic shoes do not improve performance.  A discussion of this study can be found here at Science Daily.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in running.  Even though McDougall could have organized the book better in places, it was interesting throughout and made me want to get out there and run.

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