Born to Run

25 Jun 2014

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Book: Born to Run
Author: Christopher McDougall
ISBN-13: 978-1861978776

I read many books which inspired me to such an extent that changed my life forever, for good. This book happened in reverse order. I became a barefoot runner first, felt immediate improvements on my knee pain, started researching more about barefoot running and then got hold of this amazing book, “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. Now, I am 100% convinced and happy with the decision of becoming a barefoot runner. Thank you Christopher !!!

‘A bible for the barefoot running community’ - Ben Fogle, Telegraph.

I expected a typical how-to book of barefoot running. But, this book is different. This is the story of a man’s quest to find the perfect way to run injury free. On his extra-ordinary quest, he finds the Tarahumara Tribes, who runs for hundreds of miles without rest, while enjoying every minute of the run in the deep rocky Copper Canyons in Mexico. The entire book reads like a novel about the greatest, toughest race the world has ever seen. I had a little difficulty in reading many of the Mexican, Raramuri (the actual name of Tarahumara Tribe) names and the Spanish text that appears through out the book. You become used to it after few chapters.

Our author Christopher McDougall (6 feet 4 inches, 230 pounds) was repeatedly getting hurt whenever he attempted to run. Dr. Joe Torg (co-author of “The Running Athlete”) advised him not to run at all. Our author was disappointed. While he was in Mexico, he came to know about a mysterious man “Caballo Blanco” - the White Horse (an American who lives in Copper Canyons, after learning the Raramuri traditions). He spent next few months in Mexico, worked along with Caballo to conduct the the most amazing race. A race between the Raramuri tribes and the best athletes from America. This book sums up all his experience in the Copper Canyons of Mexico.

I got to know a lot (a serious lot) about the Raramuri tribes, their tradition, their culture, food habits, corn beer festival, sex parties etc,. The author did not only paint the fairy tale side of the tribes, but gives a fairly detailed description of their dark side as well. What surprised me is this (In author’s words) - “They drink like “New Year Eve” every week, tossing back enough corn beer in a year to spend every third day of their adult life either buzzed or recovering. They don’t replenish their bodies with electrolyte-rich sports drinks. They don’t rebuild between workouts with protein bars. On the race day, they don’t train or taper. They don’t stretch or warm up. They just stroll to the starting line, laughing and bantering… then go like hell for the next forty-eight hours.”

They remember that running was mankind’s first fine art. The art of combining our breath, mind and muscles to fluid self propulsion in wild terrain. And what were the initial designs in the cave paintings?. The Running Man. Distance running was the way we survived and thrived and spread across the planet. We ran to eat; and avoid being eaten. We are all Running People.

The Raramuri don’t wear shoes. They don’t get hurt. Period.

Shoes block pain, not impact!. Pain teaches us to run comfortably!. From the moment you start going barefoot, you will change the way you run - Barefoot Ken Bob

I am glad that I am a barefoot runner already!

Another interesting piece of information. The Running Man Theory. Neanderthals, our parallel species were mighty warriors. They lure their prey to ambush and attack from all the sides. They ate bears, bison, ale, rhinos - all grade A. We (Homo Sapiens) ate whatever we could get - roots, dead meat, fruits, small animals etc. We were excellent persistent hunters. We simply run behind the prey for hours, till the prey drops dead due to hypothermia. When the long winter ended and the world heated up about forty thousand years ago, the forest shrunk and parched grasslands stretched till the horizon. The Neanderthal men’s long spears, ambushes were useless now. So, they retreated to the diminishing forests and disappeared. However, the new climate was great for the Running Men. Antelopes and plump roots are everywhere. We survived and flourished in earth by one reason - Running !!!

Chasing an animal to death?. Persistence Hunting?. Is it really possible?.

Yes. The Kalahari Bushmen can run an antelope to death, right now. Louis Liebenberg, the author of “The Art of Tracking”, spent years with the Bushmen and was part of the pack which kills antelope by persistence hunting. It normally takes two to five hours to kill an animal. I am convinced with the Running Men Theory.

Just remember these.

Which is the only animal in the world that can run for longest duration, sometimes even days together?.

Which is the only animal in the world that can sweat (dissipate heat) while running?.

It’s us. Homo Sapiens.

Running was the super power that made us human - which means its a super power all humans posses. If you don’t think you were born to run, you are not only denying history. You are denying who you are.

Below is my take away from this extra-ordinary book.

‘Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle - when the sun comes up, you’d better be running’ - Roger Bannister (first man to break the four minute mile)

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