Saturday, May 1, 2010

Born to Run

"Born to Run, A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen" by Christopher McDougall

This book is not your typical running book. It is a combination of personal stories woven into a larger tale that includes history, anthropology, medicine, and a lot of exploration.

The author really is looking at all aspects as to what makes a better runner, such as the individual mental status, the training method, the diet, the breath, the posture, the stride. He does seem to cover all the regular topics a trainer would delve into, but it is done in a way that feels like you are on an adventure story. You hardly notice he is taking you through a journey where all the typical topics of athletic training get scrutinized because he writes in such a way you feel like you're on an interesting adventure.

I came away from this book with not only a greater appreciation about running, I also took away some good tips I'm going to try. I particularly was captivated by his discussion on running shoes because it was so different from what I had been taught.

I also found it interesting to learn about recommended foods, because it expanded beyond the normal recommendation of just consuming more fruits and vegetables. I also appreciated the discussion on mental focus and the mind-body conflict.

Here are some of the gems about shoes and diet that spoke to me:
  • “Running shoes may be the most destructive force to ever hit the human foot” (page 168)
  • “Running shoe companies have had a quarter century to perfect their designs so logically the injury rate must be in a free fall by now. But achilles complaints have actually increased by 10% while plantar fasciitis has remained the same.
  • “There is no evidence that running shoes are any help at all in injury prevention”. (pg 171)
  • “Human beings are designed to run without shoes”
  • “Phenols are natural plant chemicals that combat disease. They basically boost your immune system. When Cornell University researchers did a comparison analysis of wheat, oats, corn, and rice to see which had the highest quantity of phenols, corn was the hands-down winner. Pinole (ground toasted corn) can slash your risk of diabetes and a host of digestive system cancers; in fact all cancers.
After reading the book I wanted to learn more about the foods pinole and chia, which were discussed in the book. I found an interesting website called the "No Meat Athlete" where more information about these foods are discussed, including some recipes and where you can purchase these foods.

If you are a long distance runner, interested in starting to run, or want to learn more about the evolution of running, I think you will enjoy this national best seller, "Born to Run."


Dan said...

Helen read this book and loved it. In fact, she was so fascinated by it that she read a substantial portion of it out loud to me. Very interesting stuff.

AnotherQ said...

I agree....very interesting stuff.