Born to Run

 
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Product Description

Book Description
Full of incredible characters, amazing athletic achievements, cutting-edge science, and, most of all, pure inspiration, Born to Run is an epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt? In search of an answer, Christopher McDougall sets off to find a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners and learn their secrets, and in the process shows us that everything we thought we knew about running is wrong.

Isolated by the most savage terrain in North America, the reclusive Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyons are custodians of a lost art. For centuries they have practiced techniques that allow them to run hundreds of miles without rest and chase down anything from a deer to an Olympic marathoner while enjoying every mile of it. Their superhuman talent is matched by uncanny health and serenity, leaving the Tarahumara immune to the diseases and strife that plague modern existence. With the help of Caballo Blanco, a mysterious loner who lives among the tribe, the author was able not only to uncover the secrets of the Tarahumara but also to find his own inner ultra-athlete, as he trained for the challenge of a lifetime: a fifty-mile race through the heart of Tarahumara country pitting the tribe against an odd band of Americans, including a star ultramarathoner, a beautiful young surfer, and a barefoot wonder.

With a sharp wit and wild exuberance, McDougall takes us from the high-tech science labs at Harvard to the sun-baked valleys and freezing peaks across North America, where ever-growing numbers of ultrarunners are pushing their bodies to the limit, and, finally, to the climactic race in the Copper Canyons. Born to Run is that rare book that will not only engage your mind but inspire your body when you realize that the secret to happiness is right at your feet, and that you, indeed all of us, were born to run.


Amazon Exclusive: A Q&A with Christopher McDougall

Question: Born to Run explores the life and running habits of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Copper Canyon, arguably the greatest distance runners in the world. What are some of the secrets you learned from them?

Christopher McDougall: The key secret hit me like a thunderbolt. It was so simple, yet such a jolt. It was this: everything I’d been taught about running was wrong. We treat running in the modern world the same way we treat childbirtha??it’s going to hurt, and requires special exercises and equipment, and the best you can hope for is to get it over with quickly with minimal damage.

Then I meet the Tarahumara, and they’re having a blast. They remember what it’s like to love running, and it lets them blaze through the canyons like dolphins rocketing through waves. For them, running isn’t work. It isn’t a punishment for eating. It’s fine art, like it was for our ancestors. Way before we were scratching pictures on caves or beating rhythms on hollow trees, we were perfecting the art of combining our breath and mind and muscles into fluid self-propulsion over wild terrain. And when our ancestors finally did make their first cave paintings, what were the first designs? A downward slash, lightning bolts through the bottom and middlea??behold, the Running Man.

The Tarahumara have a saying: “Children run before they can walk.” Watch any four-year-olda??they do everything at full speed, and it’s all about fun. That’s the most important thing I picked up from my time in the Copper Canyons, the understanding that running can be fast and fun and spontaneous, and when it is, you feel like you can go forever. But all of that begins with your feet. Strange as it sounds, the Tarahumara taught me to change my relationship with the ground. Instead of hammering down on my heels, the way I’d been taught all my life, I learned to run lightly and gently on the balls of my feet. The day I mastered it was the last day I was ever injured.

Q: You trained for your first ultramarathona??a race organized by the mysterious gringo expat Caballo Blanco between the Tarahumara and some of America’s top ultrarunnersa??while researching and writing this book. What was your training like?

CM: It really started as kind of a dare. Just by chance, I’d met an adventure-sports coach from Jackson Hole, Wyoming named Eric Orton. Eric’s specialty is tearing endurance sports down to their basic components and looking for transferable skills. He studies rock climbing to find shoulder techniques for kayakers, and applies Nordic skiing’s smooth propulsion to mountain biking. What he’s looking for are basic engineering principles, because he’s convinced that the next big leap forward in fitness won’t come from strength or technology, but plain, simple durability. With some 70% of all runners getting hurt every year, the athlete who can stay healthy and avoid injury will leave the competition behind.

So naturally, Eric idolized the Tarahumara. Any tribe that has 90-year-old men running across mountaintops obviously has a few training tips up its sleeve. But since Eric had never actually met the Tarahumara, he had to deduce their methods by pure reasoning. His starting point was uncertainty; he assumed that the Tarahumara step into the unknown every time they leave their caves, because they never know how fast they’ll have to sprint after a rabbit or how tricky the climbing will be if they’re caught in a storm. They never even know how long a race will be until they step up to the starting linea??the distance is only determined in a last-minute bout of negotiating and could stretch anywhere from 50 miles to 200-plus.

Eric figured shock and awe was the best way for me to build durability and mimic Tarahumara-style running. He’d throw something new at me every daya??hopping drills, lunges, mile intervalsa??and lots and lots of hills. There was no such thing, really, as long, slow distancea??he’d have me mix lots of hill repeats and short bursts of speed into every mega-long run.

I didn’t think I could do it without breaking down, and I told Eric that from the start. I basically defied him to turn me into a runner. And by the end of nine months, I was cranking out four hour runs without a problem.

Q: You’re a six-foot four-inches tall, 200-plus pound guya??not anyone’s typical vision of a distance runner, yet you’ve completed ultra marathons and are training for more. Is there a body type for running, as many of us assume, or are all humans built to run?

CM: Yeah, I’m a big’un. But isn’t it sad that’s even a reasonable question? I bought into that bull for a loooong time. Why wouldn’t I? I was constantly being told by people who should know better that “some bodies aren’t designed for running.” One of the best sports medicine physicians in the country told me exactly thata??that the reason I was constantly getting hurt is because I was too big to handle the impact shock from my feet hitting the ground. Just recently, I interviewed a nationally-known sports podiatrist who said, “You know, we didn’t ALL evolve to run away from saber-toothed tigers.” Meaning, what? That anyone who isn’t sleek as a Kenyan marathoner should be extinct? It’s such illogical blathera??all kinds of body types exist today, so obviously they DID evolve to move quickly on their feet. It’s really awful that so many doctors are reinforcing this learned helplessness, this idea that you have to be some kind of elite being to handle such a basic, universal movement.

Q: If humans are born to run, as you argue, what’s your advice for a runner who is looking to make the leap from shorter road races to marathons, or marathons to ultramarathons? Is running really for everyone?

CM: I think ultrarunning is America’s hope for the future. Honestly. The ultrarunners have got a hold of some powerful wisdom. You can see it at the starting line of any ultra race. I showed up at the Leadville Trail 100 expecting to see a bunch of hollow-eyed Skeletors, and instead it was, “Whoah! Get a load of the hotties!” Ultra runners tend to be amazingly healthy, youthful anda??believe it or nota??good looking. I couldn’t figure out why, until one runner explained that throughout history, the four basic ingredients for optimal health have been clean air, good food, fresh water and low stress. And that, to a T, describes the daily life of an ultrarunner. They’re out in the woods for hours at a time, breathing pine-scented breezes, eating small bursts of digestible food, downing water by the gallons, and feeling their stress melt away with the miles. But here’s the real key to that kingdom: you have to relax and enjoy the run. No one cares how fast you run 50 miles, so ultrarunners don’t really stress about times. They’re out to enjoy the run and finish strong, not shave a few inconsequential seconds off a personal best. And that’s the best way to transition up to big mileage races: as coach Eric told me, “If it feels like work, you’re working too hard.”

Q: You write that distance running is the great equalizer of age and gender. Can you explain?

CM: Okay, I’ll answer that question with a question: Starting at age nineteen, runners get faster every year until they hit their peak at twenty-seven. After twenty-seven, they start to decline. So if it takes you eight years to reach your peak, how many years does it take for you to regress back to the same speed you were running at nineteen?

Go ahead, guess all you want. No one I’ve asked has ever come close. It’s in the book, so I won’t give it away, but I guarantee when you hear the answer, you’ll say, “No way. THAT old?” Now, factor in this: ultra races are the only sport in the world in which women can go toe-to-toe with men and hand them their heads. Ann Trason and Krissy Moehl often beat every man in the field in some ultraraces, while Emily Baer recently finished in the Top 10 at the Hardrock 100 while stopping to breastfeed her baby at the water stations.

So how’s that possible? According to a new body of research, it’s because humans are the greatest distance runners on earth. We may not be fast, but we’re born with such remarkable natural endurance that humans are fully capable of outrunning horses, cheetahs and antelopes. That’s because we once hunted in packs and on foot; all of us, men and women alike, young and old together.

Q: One of the fascinating parts of Born to Run is your report on how the ultrarunners eata??salad for breakfast, wraps with hummus mid-run, or pizza and beer the night before a run. As a runner with a lot of miles behind him, what are your thoughts on nutrition for running?

CM: Live every day like you’re on the lam. If you’ve got to be ready to pick up and haul butt at a moment’s notice, you’re not going to be loading up on gut-busting meals. I thought I’d have to go on some kind of prison-camp diet to get ready for an ultra, but the best advice I got came from coach Eric, who told me to just worry about the running and the eating would take care of itself. And he was right, sort of. I instinctively began eating smaller, more digestible meals as my miles increased, but then I went behind his back and consulted with the great Dr. Ruth Heidrich, an Ironman triathlete who lives on a vegan diet. She’s the one who gave me the idea of having salad for breakfast, and it’s a fantastic tip. The truth is, many of the greatest endurance athletes of all time lived on fruits and vegetables. You can get away with garbage for a while, but you pay for it in the long haul. In the book, I describe how Jenn Shelton and Billy “Bonehead” Barnett like to chow pizza and Mountain Dew in the middle of 100-mile races, but Jenn is also a vegetarian who most days lives on veggie burgers and grapes.

Q: In this difficult financial time, we’re experiencing yet another surge in the popularity of running. Can you explain this?

CM: When things look worst, we run the most. Three times, America has seen distance-running skyrocket and it’s always in the midst of a national crisis. The first boom came during the Great Depression; the next was in the ‘70s, when we were struggling to recover from a recession, race riots, assassinations, a criminal President and an awful war. And the third boom? One year after the Sept. 11 attacks, trailrunning suddenly became the fastest-growing outdoor sport in the country. I think there’s a trigger in the human psyche that activates our first and greatest survival skill whenever we see the shadow of approaching raptors.

(Photo ?? James Rexroad)



Full of incredible characters, amazing athletic achievements, cutting-edge science, and, most of all, pure inspiration, Born to Run is an epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt? In search of an answer, Christopher McDougall sets off to find a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners and learn their secrets, and in the process shows us that everything we thought we knew about running is wrong.

Isolated by the most savage terrain in North America, the reclusive Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyons are custodians of a lost art. For centuries they have practiced techniques that allow them to run hundreds of miles without rest and chase down anything from a deer to an Olympic marathoner while enjoying every mile of it. Their superhuman talent is matched by uncanny health and serenity, leaving the Tarahumara immune to the diseases and strife that plague modern existence. With the help of Caballo Blanco, a mysterious loner who lives among the tribe, the author was able not only to uncover the secrets of the Tarahumara but also to find his own inner ultra-athlete, as he trained for the challenge of a lifetime: a fifty-mile race through the heart of Tarahumara country pitting the tribe against an odd band of Americans, including a star ultramarathoner, a beautiful young surfer, and a barefoot wonder.

With a sharp wit and wild exuberance, McDougall takes us from the high-tech science labs at Harvard to the sun-baked valleys and freezing peaks across North America, where ever-growing numbers of ultrarunners are pushing their bodies to the limit, and, finally, to the climactic race in the Copper Canyons. Born to Run is that rare book that will not only engage your mind but inspire your body when you realize that the secret to happiness is right at your feet, and that you, indeed all of us, were born to run.


From the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews:

  • Fascinating
    My first Amazon review... this book is fascinating. I'll never run (or even walk) the same and I can't stop talking about the book with friends and family. The book is interesting even for non-runners. Personally I run little, partially because of foot pain. Now, from what I'ved learned, I might well run more. ...more info
  • Must Read...Truly, for everyone
    I've been a runner for over 30 years and can totally relate to all the discussions within this book regarding shoes, injuries and the part of running that even I've lost - the Simple Joy of it! I will try to wipe away all the aspects that are detracting from that joy I had running in college and the years after. This book goes WAY beyond just running and the stories within are at times amusing, and at other times mind-boggling. I found myself thinking ' You can't make this stuff up! ' The characters on this journey are unlike any I've ever read about or known. Some of the findings are somewhat revolutionary but at the same time may not be for everyone (barefoot running, running in sandals, consuming certain food products to enhance overall health). I am looking forward to the response from the medical, science and even running technology fields. Regardless, highly entertaining and a very fast read for a book this size....more info
  • Most inspiring book on running
    This is the first time I've ever felt so compelled to write a review on a book. I already know 3 other friends who have ordered the book based on just reading the jacket cover. It was both well written and well paced. I actually put it aside to prolong the enjoyment and plan on reading it for a second time very soon. A very interesting perspective on running done incredible justice by a writer who blended humor with compassion and ultimate respect. I ordered my running shoes and have been back at it after a very long hiatus. So nice to not hear only about the challenges of running, the mechanics and injuries, there was certainly information on new theories and practices... but instead to hear about the joy of running. helped me remember what I have loved about running. ...more info
  • More fun than an Ultra!
    Don't be fooled,this is a great read whether you are a runner or not. The richness of the characters and the drama of the storytelling reels you in like M&Ms at an aid station at mile 23. I read this book over the weekend and found myself wanting to skip work on Monday and go for a long run. Chris McDougall obviously is a gifted writer, but what makes this book different is his enmeshment into the story. You finish feeling a part of Caballo, Jenn, Bonehead, Eric, Luis, Barefoot and all the Tarahumara, and I can't help but feel that is what the author wanted to accomplish. The only problem now is scouring the net to get pictures to go with the names of all my new running buddies! Get this book, you will not be disappointed. ...more info
  • Be patient it's a great read.
    Once you can get around all the superlatives (the best, the greatest, the fastest, the smartest, etc.) and enjoy McCullough tale of running for joy it becomes an intriguing story; part science, myth, history, business, athleticism....more info
  • More fun than an Ultra!
    Don't be fooled,this is a great read whether you are a runner or not. The richness of the characters and the drama of the storytelling reels you in like M&Ms at an aid station at mile 23. I read this book over the weekend and found myself wanting to skip work on Monday and go for a long run. Chris McDougall obviously is a gifted writer, but what makes this book different is his enmeshment into the story. You finish feeling a part of Caballo, Jenn, Bonehead, Eric, Luis, Barefoot and all the Tarahumara, and I can't help but feel that is what the author wanted to accomplish. The only problem now is scouring the net to get pictures to go with the names of all my new running buddies! Get this book, you will not be disappointed. ...more info
  • Be patient it's a great read.
    Once you can get around all the superlatives (the best, the greatest, the fastest, the smartest, etc.) and enjoy McCullough tale of running for joy it becomes an intriguing story; part science, myth, history, business, athleticism....more info
  • Superathelete within
    There are a few books out there that will make you want to immediately put on your running shoes and get out for a run, and "Born to Run" is one of them - tip, if you want to enjoy both at the same time, pick it up in the audio version!

    Most of the book is focused on the amazing Tarahumara (the running people) tribe that the author discovered during one of his trips to Mexico and his consequent quest to uncover their secrets. Christopher McDougall does a great job of capturing the characters and the idiosyncrasies of both the sport and the competitors, it's a real page turner. Sprinkled throughout the book are numerous and fascinating discussions on our anatomy, evolution, nutrition and training regimen - you're bound to discover something new. Highly recommended!...more info
  • Brilliant.
    This is the most fascinating and inspiring book I've read in a long time. The wide range of personal stories and aura of mystery surrounding the reclusive running people will leave you glued to the page, thirsting for adventure, and itching to hit the trail. McDougall, though overdramatic and sometimes less-than-eloquent, has plugged into the true runner's psyche. A must-read....more info
  • Entertaining and motivating
    An entertaining book with a fascinating cast of characters.

    There are at least two aspects to the book, there's the narrative about events leading up to a cross country ultramarathon in Mexico, and there's McDougall's ideas about barefoot running - and he's kind enough to cite supporting studies, so you don't have to just take his word for it.

    The stories in the book grab you as he introduces you to the eclectic cast of characters and their backgrounds. I frequently got so engrossed in the backstory that I was almost surprised when he returned to the main narrative. But all the stories weave together nicely, and lead you up to the final race.

    The book takes a very upbeat look at barefoot running (almost too upbeat to be believable), but it is really about the joy of running. This is a book that will make you WANT to go out and run.

    In fact, I think I'm going to go for a run now....more info
  • A good read for serious runners, all ultrarunners
    I rarely read novels about running. I'm usually drawn to technical works on running. The book "Born To Run" by Christopher McDougall is an odd combination of both. Sort of.

    Most of the "running" in the book is most likely not what a typical reader would associate with that term. This is a book about "ultrarunning", which by strict definition means any race 50 kilometers or longer. For users of the Anglo-American system of measure, that's about 31.1 miles. In this book the races under discussion are either 50 or 100 miles in length.

    This is not mainstream stuff. Standard road racing up to the marathon distance is somewhat known to the typical person-on-the-street thanks to the Olympics. "Ultrarunning ?"

    Ultrarunning is really obscure stuff ! Apparently the book is moving up on the bestseller list. I'm a bit shocked by this. I figure you have to be very much into running for this book to capture your attention. It is written in a style which is a hybrid of a novel and documentary. It's my impression that all of the events described are non-fictional. The author is a good storyteller with some tendency for long-windedness.

    The book's focus is on a remote region of Mexico inhabited by a tribe known as the Tarahumara. This tribe was pushed into this region, the Sierra Madre, and more specifically the region of the "Copper Canyon". Copper Canyon is significantly wider and deeper than the Grand Canyon. But it's most important feature is it's remoteness. It is here the Tarahumara retreated from advancing Spanish and Mexican settlers. The canyon area served them as a gigantic natural fortress.

    The author seems to have stumbled onto the Tarahumara during his travels to Mexico as a journalist. He also explains his personal problems with running, and his visits to various sports medicine experts. He got nowhere with the "experts", and he seems to be seeking a medicine man in the Mexican outback.

    Sprinkled throughout the book are all-out attacks on the running shoe industry. If indeed this book hits the big-time mainstream best-seller list, it will be interesting to see if the multi-billion dollar running shoe industry responds. What I see in this book is a lot of anti-running shoe ranting, minimal support for these arguments, and most of the protagonists wearing various forms of running shoes. I'm not saying there might be some merit in attacking running shoe design, but I don't see much in the way of good science here to support this.

    The proponent of "barefoot running" exits the stage with his feet heavily bandaged.

    The chapters on ultrarunning center on a race called the "Leadville 100". This left me with a vivid picture of what must the real core of ultrarunning culture. Life should be what makes you happy and should provide you with the greatest utility. If you would like to expend a great deal of energy to participate in a dangerous and obscure sport this is for you. For the rest of us it provides some entertainment watching other people pushing their bodies to the limit. How far and fast can they go ?

    A scholarly detour asks the question "Did human evolve as running animals ?". It's fairly convincing and interesting reading. I especially enjoyed the discussion of "persistence hunting". If you have vegetarian tendencies you may want to skip these chapters.

    The climax of the book is a race, and I don't think this will be a spoiler to mention this, in the Tarahumara home country. The organizer of this event is a mysterious and weird fellow with alias "Caballo Blanco" who seems to be forever running around the Copper Canyon in his Teva sandals. This ghost-like person somehow puts together an impossible assemblage of Tarahumara and gringo ultrarunners for a 50 mile race. Getting the Tarahumara to participate is a major roadblock, but when it finally happens there seems to be plenty of the elements of modern civilization appearing- hotels, cold beers, and internet connections. The crowd goes wild and gets really drunk. It's better than NASCAR (and I've been to the Daytona 500 three times).

    I'm not going to recommend this book to anyone other than very serious runners, members of the running shoe industry, or any ultrarunner. I hope I'm wrong and it has a wider readership. More importantly, if it gets a few couch potatoes into exercise that would be even better. It's a fast read, with some difficulty following the multi-threaded plot leading to the big race. I'm glad I read it, and I look forward to the great running shoe debate which will surely follow for the next several years....more info
  • Absolutely spellbinding
    From the first chapter I found myself laughing out loud as I read and soaking in little bits of information. Although this book doesn't set out to be a "running manual" each of the chapters builds to what I believe is an extremely valuable and entertaining account of Chris's experiences.

    I can't put into words how much I have appreciated this read, I have just put it down and I'm ready to devour the book again, it's just that good.

    As someone who has tried unsuccessfully to go from couch to marathon in 10 months, I picked up this book believing what I had been told, "Our family doesn't make good runners". After hearing Chris on NPR I was very intrigued to hear his side of the story, which had people well into their 60s and 70s running ultras in pretty much just bare feet. This book has given me hope that maybe it's not necessarily my genetic makeup that has hampered me with injury, rather the way I approached the entire undertaking.

    Thank you so much for this amazing read!

    Justin N.
    Chicago, IL...more info
  • This is one of those books...
    ... that you'll pester all your friends and family about until they read it. Absolutely excellent in all regards. Inspiring....more info
  • Add me to the list of readers who tell friends YOU WILL LOVE THIS BOOK
    How did I hear about this book? I was thinking of what would be my next audio book when I stumbled across this. Complete serendiptiy! I was never a runner--only jogged and did wind sprints because soccer required it. I urge you audiophiles to listen to this because the reader adds immeasurably to the book. I have listened to it twice. In an age of extreme narcissism--when people twitter and facebook their every thought and meal--this book talks about what it is to be human, to run and to excel just for the joy of it. This book will be a good read 25 years from now....more info
  • Can't wait for the MOVIE!!!!
    Read it and RUN!!!!I cannot remember the last time I have felt so simultaneously empowered, inspired and enlightened by a book. Seriously, the story is compelling, fascinating and simply and amazing. Just the information on the money we waste on expensive running shoes alone is paradigm shifting and worth the cost of the book. I am also really enjoying learning about Ultrarunning (why I have I never heard of this before?) and the Raramuri Indians of Mexico. I am really loving this book, appreciate the author for writing it and think it could be made into a really inspirational, high quality film/documentary....more info
  • Spellbinding - something for everyone
    A wonderful tale, extremely well told, and at the same time, packed with insight and information. You'll love it if you are at all interested in running, health, human evolution, indigenous cultures, or ... if you just want a beautiful story about the human condition and our connections to each other. It's great writing, and easily one of my favorite books in recent memory.

    On the other hand, if you are a running shoe company exec, or a huge fan of Bill Bowerman, you may want to skip some chapters of this book, as the author pokes big (fact-based) holes in the prevailing mythology....more info
  • Run
    Lessons in anthropology, history and nutrition coupled with intriguing characters makes "Born To Run" a compelling page turner. Mr. Dougall writes in a style somewhat similar to Sebastian Younger, one can also senses hints of John Grisham. Born to Run can revitalize one's running and nutritional goals, it absolutely did mine!...more info
  • Not just for runners
    When have you seen a book with this many reviews and none below 5 stars? You know what this book is about from the other descriptions and reviews. Here's how I feel about it. This is the first time I've reviewed a book on Amazon.com and it's the first thing I wanted to do when I finished the book ten minutes ago. The second thing I will do is email many of my friends to urge them to get the book. I will NOT loan them my copy! My wife will be reading it next, though I interrupted her so many times to read portions of it that she is already thinking of people to tell about it.
    I've been a serious runner (sometimes more/often less) for 40 years and have read countless articles and books about running. This is the best. It satisfied my running soul and my academic mind. I couldn't wait to finish it and I didn't want it to end. ...more info
  • Best book about running I've ever read
    I'm an avid runner and I bite almost everytime a new book comes out about the ultradistance. Unfortunately most of these books are humdrum accounts of a runner's life of racing which I guess is probably exciting until you've read 50 of the same thing (the sacrifice, the pain, the halucinations..) Born to Run is different. If I could sum up my excitement about distance running I would hand someone this book because McDougall gets it. He understand that ultrarunning is more than just running adnauseum, more than just stunts, and more than just a crazy hobby.
    I got busy recommending this book to everyone around me when I was less than half finished with it. I would read a chapter and want to make a copy to show someone but then after the next chapter realize I would be busy copying all day (I didn't do it, copyright police!). Instead I went around cornering people (runners and non-runners alike) to tell them something new I'd read in this book. I learned so much about everything from fixing my running style to hunting down African animals empty handed!

    I can't say enough about this book and I wish I could halfway emulate McDougall's excitement about running which flows through every sentence. He's literally saved my running life with this book. ...more info
  • Incredible read
    This book is absolutely phenomenal. It covers so much ground (literally), from science to history to philosophy. The narrative of the book's protagonist (Caballo Blanco) and the inaugural Copper Canyon ultramarathon is exhilarating. Born to Run is densely packed with running wisdom and reads like an adventure novel. This book is suitable for anyone, not just runners. The inspiration in Born to Run is on par with any notable Olympic performance and transcends the typical "for runners only" stigma. I implore you to pick up this book, you won't be disappointed....more info
  • A phenomenal book about running but more importantly a way of life
    My wife handed me Born to Run about 24 hours ago and said "you might like this." Having run quite a bit but nursing an achilles tendon injury for about 3 years, I had almost given up on my dreams of getting back into marathon shape. 24 hours (and very little sleep) later, I feel inspired, awed, and enlightened, and I have Christopher's wonderful book to thank.

    In a nutshell, I have not been this entralled by a story since Shadow Divers, Seabiscuit and/or Into Thin Air. Christopher's recounting of the forbidding Copper Canyons, the amazing Tarahumara, ultramarathoners young and old, and the greatest race you've never heard of is enough for me to give this a rave review. But like the aforementioned books, there is so much more to this story, not the least of which was Christopher's own quest (and amazing resiliency) to run without pain. Finally, he put to words many of the thoughts and feelings I've had about running but am unable to articulate. And Christopher is a great writer - I laughed out loud many times throughout. He has a style akin to a Timothy Cahill - a great wit that was obviously aided by a wonderfully intriguing cast of characters.

    As the sun was coming up this morning I was a bit sad to see this book end, and am already contemplating picking it up again. But only after I strap on the old, beaten up sneaks and get in a quick jog. Thanks so much for writing this book - I hope it changes lives and perspectives in the process....more info
  • A monumental read....
    I once read a headline on one of those supermarket checkout stand tabloids, the World Weekly News that read: "Picture of Elvis cured my gout."

    This book is kind of like my picture of Elvis....more info
  • A great story and so much more
    Born to Run succeeds at three levels. First, it is a page turner. The build up to a fifty-mile foot race over some of the world's least hospitable terrain drives the narrative forward. Along the way McDougall introduces a cast of characters worthy of Dickens, including an almost superhuman ultramarathoner, Jenn and the Bonehead--a couple who down bottles of booze to warm up for a race, Barefoot Ted, Mexican drug dealers, a ghostly ex-boxer, a heartbroken father, and of course the Tarahumara, arguably the greatest runners in the world.

    Born to Run is such a rip-roaring yarn, that it is easy to miss the book's deeper achievements. At a second level, McDougall introduces and explores a powerful thesis--that human beings are literally born to run. Recreational running did not begin with the 1966 publication of "Jogging" by the co-founder of Nike. Instead, McDougall argues, running is at the heart of what it means to be human. In the course of elaborating his thesis, McDougall answers some big questions: Why did our ancestors outlive the stronger, smarter Neanderthals? Why do expensive running shoes increase the odds of injury? The author's modesty keeps him from trumpeting the novelty and importance of this thesis, but it merits attention.

    Finally, Born to Run presents a philosophy of exercise. The ethos that pervades recreational and competitive running--"no pain, no gain," is fundamentally flawed, McDougall argues. The essence of running should not be grim determination, but sheer joy. Many of the conventions of modern running--the thick-soled shoes, mechanical treadmills, take no prisoners competition, and heads-down powering through pain dull our appreciation of what running can be--a sociable activity, more game than chore, that can lead to adventure. McDougall's narrative moves the book forward, his thesis provides a solid intellectual support, but this philosophy of joy animates Born to Run. I hope this book finds the wide audience it deserves. ...more info
  • A life changing story
    I like to think this book changed my life for good. As a start, it made me ditch my running shoes...
    Running to become a better person - what a powerful message! In search of the greatest endurance runners of all time, Chris McDougall takes the reader through an amazing story of running and life. And brings us all closer to the still unknown world of the ultra-runners tribe, our 21st century Gods.
    Let's spread the word!...more info
  • Great book
    I am not a runner, but I want to become one now. I picked this book up not as a fan of ultra distance running- I had always considered ultra distance runners as masochistic freaks driven by the runners high as their body tries to cope with this grueling activity that they were never meant to do. After reading this book, I still think ultra distance runners are freaks, but not masochistic ones. They are freaks because they are some of the few who understand that man was designed to run, and run long distances. The book centers around trying to unearth the secret of the Tarahumara Indians- how are they able to run long distances on insufficient nutrition on bad terrain with little foot protection without injury? While doing this, McDougall winds through the entertaining history of ultra running and its quirky athletes along with scientific evidence for the health benefits of endurance running, and barefoot endurance running in particular. This book is funny, mesmerizing, thought-provoking, and, if you thought you were not cut for running, may make you give it another go. Highly recommended....more info