Born to Run is Christopher McDougall experience as an ultra runner and his tips and suggestion on how to become one.
- It’s not true humans are physically weak: we are top runners
- Your running shoes are not helping you prevent injuries or running better
- Study your gait so you can minimize injury risks
Humans Are Great Runners
You probably often heard that humans are defenseless in nature and that we are slow and devoid of natural weapons (ie.: claws and long teeth).
Humans come out on top when it comes to long distance running, says Christopher McDougall.
What makes us better long distance runner than other animals?
- We cool down better (other animals don’t sweat and only have breathing to disperse heat)
- Our legs are far from our lungs (in animals running means compressing their own lungs)
- Higher air capacity (our lungs could grow bigger when we started walking upright)
- Achilles’ tendon (it works a bit like a spring to move forward)
Running Shoes Are Bad
Only 3% of the population has a medical need for special running shoes, but today they are being sold to everyone.
Running shoes limit our feet’s movement, and cause the muscles to atrophy.
Atrophy and loss of strength in the feet causes imbalanced in the body. Other muscles and joints will have to compensate, which increases the likelihood of accidents.
Running shoes also mask the signs that our body need to adapt. They cushion every step, and we lose precious feedback.
Running barefoot instead gives all the feedback we need so that we can adapt our gait.
Drop your shoes and run barefoot.
McDougall says that in spite of today’s society obsession with lean meat, you are probably better off giving up meat altogether.
A vegetarian diet is better, says the author, because meat takes a much bigger toll on digestion. We take longer to absorb proteins and we’re wasting more time and energies on a per calorie basis.
The author discusses how trainer Ken Mierke set out to study some top long distance runner to understand what they did different when it came to form.
He realized that they moved legs in smaller contractions to enable quicker foot movements.
To teach his clients do the same, he developed 180 beats per minute metronomes their clients should mimic.
Instead of me explaining further here’s a video:
To run effective long distance, you must keep yourself below the aerobic threshold, such as the point at which you start breathing heavily.
Staying below the aerobic threshold allows you to burn fat instead of sugar.
A common mistake runners do is to go too fast and use up all sugar, which is a far more limited source of energy than fat.
The author spends some time discussing Tarahumara tribe, a tribe of endurance runners in Mexico.
McDougall actually set out to meet and spoke with their most respected runner.
His secret? Love to run.
To be a Tarahumara means that you have to love running. It’s part of their identity.
Running is a Blast
The author suggest it would be a good idea for all of us to re-learn our love for running.
Remember when you were a child, running and laughing with abandon?
What if you could recapture that spirit with a nice run?
Every once in a while, run. It’s freeing.
I find the book has a bit of a rosy view of the Mexican runner tribe and it felt as too romanticizing for me.
I can imagine the life of a kid who doesn’t like running must be not easy in that tribe.
The author say that you can look at some of the best runner in history and you’ll notice they were vegetarians.
However, “some runners being vegetarian” is no proof of anything.
It would be the same as saying that many of the richest people in town are not that bright. And that means you should dumb yourself down to get rich.
However, the author also has great points as why you should cut meat actually.
Born to Run is an interesting and easy read.
Joy of Running
If you’re a runner or you are looking to be inspired to run, Born to Run is your book.
I got Born to Run to read about nutrition and training. There wasn’t much there for people looking to exercise and eat well… Unless you plan running endurance.
However, there was a very poetic side for me in Born to Run.
It’s when the author reminds us of how running as children was such an awesome experience.
It brought me back in time those days, with images of children running. And it reminded me that some of the most memorable, and even romantic moments of my life, involved running.
Definitely your book if you’re looking to associate joy to running -or if you already enjoy and want to read from a kindred soul-.