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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."