"Born to Run"
by Christopher McDougall.
McDougall is an award winning journalist who set out to find the answers of why he kept getting hurt while he ran, and why there was a group of people on this planet who seemed to be able to run for days (literally) and never get hurt. This question led him to discover the greatest runners of all time, the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico's Copper Canyons. He soon meets characters along the way who are incredible in their own unique ways. It is composed of a handful of ultra-marathon runners who each have their own story to tell. Some of their experiences are hard to believe if only because I could never imagine myself or anyone I know being able to do what they do. To give you an idea, one racer begins her day with 20 miles in the morning, does the things she needs to do and then as an reward runs another 20 miles. Later that evening, just to relax, she goes on another 15-20 mile run. THAT'S INSANE. This whole book blew my mind the entire time I was reading it.
But this book wasn't just a bunch of stories mixed together. He had scientists' and researchers' stories about how they discovered why the human body is meant to run. Needing speed back then makes sense, out run danger so you don't get eaten, but it was the endurance aspect that was puzzling. They soon realized the speed of most animals that humans would have hunted back then was similar to what a human can run. They also realized those same animals can't run for long periods of time without stopping for rest. This is where endurance comes in. The fact that ancient people were able to run 5+ hours at a time, chasing the same animal, is why they were able to catch it, not because the humans were faster in the first place. Isn't that interesting? I learned so much in this book, but I didn't feel like I was reading a scholarly assignment. He weaved in the science and facts in with awesome inspiring stories making everything connect.
There are stories within stories, but the transitions are seamless and don't seem distracting at all. Since I am training for a small race myself, I was obsessed with his descriptions of how these people were running, and what their secrets and techniques were. Last night I even put them to the test and while I can't run even 5 miles yet, I still did much better. This book helps you realize what your body can do. We weren't meant to sit around and be inactive, our bodies need us to move, that is why they were built the way they are. Another piece to the puzzle? Loving to run, and being a good person, makes you a better runner. That is the theory behind great runners like the Tarahumara and champion Scott
Jurek - They were compassionate and service oriented people, who loved to run. I haven't quite gotten to that stage of Zen quite yet, but hey, it's all about the journey...right?
Anyway, I loved this book. I think I loved it because I am currently killing myself in this race training and this just made me more motivated and excited to finish. That being said, I think I would still love it even if I wasn't a runner. It was so well written I couldn't put it down and I would recommend this book to anyone.