I read Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall, about a month ago and I'm still thinking a lot about it. The book begins with a description of the author's inability to run without getting injured and his doctor's advice that if he wanted to avoid running injuries he should probably stop running.
What an appalling thought? Is it true that we weren't built in a way that allows us to run? As a chubby guy who loves to run, I can't believe it (although at the the time of writing of this blog, I've been having some foot pains since an-ill advised 10 miler I ran a couple weeks ago:)!
The book travels all over the globe, and essentially back in time, to spend time with the Taruhumara, a native tribe in Mexico, who are widely considered the greatest running people of all time. Their obscene running journeys make us weekend warriors look like, well, fat, lazy americans!
One of the cases McDougall makes in the book is that our running shoes make us MORE prone to injury, not less. All that padding on our heels allows us to run with an unnatural gait that causes a lot of pain and disruption in our lower limbs. Damn You Nike!!! One of the characters in the book (and they are characters!) is "Barefoot Ted", a no-shoe-enthusiast who accompanies the author and others on a trek to take the world's greatest race to the Tarahumara homeland. He swears by the Vibram Five Fingers as the only protection you need for your feet on a long trail run. They look more like a glove for your foot than anything else. When the whether warms up a bit, I'm thinking about checking them out!
I'm not sure if as a species we were meant to run or not, but I do know I'm a heck of a lot happier and healthier when I am. When I'm running I pay more attention to what I put into my body - that whole garbage in, garbage out thing is pretty accurate when it comes to running. It really helps me clear my head and when you're out in the woods by yourself, all that other stuff that's bogging your down really doesn't seem that important.
Anyway, it's a great read and even if you don't really like running, the characters in the book and the insights into how you may have gotten to the place where you don't ever want to run again make it very interesting