Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
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Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

4.29 of 5 stars 4.29  ·  rating details  ·  70,162 ratings  ·  9,083 reviews
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...more
Hardcover, 287 pages
Published May 5th 2009 by Knopf (first published 2009)
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Born to Run by Christopher McDougallWhat I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki MurakamiOnce a Runner by John L. Parker Jr.Night Running by Pete DankoEat and Run by Scott Jurek
Best Running (non-instructional) Books
1st out of 114 books — 336 voters
The Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonFreakonomics by Steven D. LevittIn Cold Blood by Truman CapoteA Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill BrysonGuns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
Best Non-Fiction (non biography)
45th out of 2,830 books — 4,801 voters


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Community Reviews

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Lena
Let me begin this review by saying that I am not, and never have been, a runner. Despite that fact, I was surprisingly fascinated by Chrisopher McDougall's account of how his desire to run without pain started him on a quest that led him both deep into Mexico's remote Copper Canyons and human evolutionary past.

Born to Run begins as an adventure story. While trying to figure out how to get his own foot to stop hurting, he saw an article about a tribe of Mexican Indians called the Tarahumara. Thes...more
Lea
So I picked this book up, thinking it would be a cool story about this lost tribe of distance runners -- which it was -- but I got soooo much more than I bargained for.

Yes, I did learn about the Tarahumara tribe, but I also learned about the biomechanics of running and how shoe manufacturers disregard runner safety in preference of turning a profit, ultramarathons and the hardcore runners who participate in them, the lawless culture of Copper Canyon, the nearly lost techniques of persistence hun...more
Aaron
With its excessive hyperbole, convenient omissions, misleading statistics, logical inconsistencies and plain old errors, I stopped thinking about this book as actual journalism after fifty pages. Trying to read it as a novel wasn't that satisfying either because the book reads like several magazine pieces glued together rather than one continuous work. The personality profiles of Jenn and Billy and the screed against running shoes felt particularly extraneous. However, the book has a fun core of...more
Books Ring Mah Bell
Truly, I cannot recall the last time I read a book that I loved as much as this.

Should you think this book is for serious runners alone, please think again. I am not by any means a runner. I ran track in high school, but the runs I did were short, sweet, sprints. After high school, I had a difficult time finding 200 yard dashes to race in, so I did a few 5k's... I didn't love them much at all. There was no way I was going to win a 5k, not ever. The distance just sucked. (In retrospect, some trai...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Painful as it was, I stayed with this until slightly past the halfway mark. I kept hoping I might learn more about the Tarahumara people, but it was not to be. There's very little about the Tarahumara, and almost everything about a bunch of self-absorbed, obsessive long-distance runners. I have no patience with extreme athletes. They need to strive for some balance in their lives. The sport is not everything. I also got tired of the "gee golly wow ain't it all just lipsmackingly wild and amazing...more
Diane
You don't stop running because you get old; you get old because you stop running.

After hearing my running friends rave about this book for years, I finally got around to reading it. And now I owe them an apology, because I had gotten so sick of being preached at about chia seeds and running barefoot and vegetarianism and ultramarathons that I have been quietly rolling my eyes whenever anyone mentioned this friggin book.

But once I got into the story, all of my eye rolls stopped. Sure, there were...more
Wesley
Where do you begin to tell how much a fantastic book means to you? This thing is amazing, plain and simple. If you are a fan of running, a runner, want to learn more about running or enjoy working out you have to read this book. Kind of like “it’s not about the bike” but for runners and no cancer, so incredible. This is the truth about running. Fantastically told. You will learn more about it within these pages than probably in history passed. I know I did. After I’ve finished this book, which...more
Killer Rabbit
"...when you run on the earth, if you run with the earth, you can run forever."
A while back, I went to REI for a water bottle and found this book. If being out on the trail gives you peace and joy, then I think you will bond with this story.

I especially loved the Raramuri people, who seem to have mastered the concept of respecting person space. If you want to visit a Raramuri, you come sit near their home and wait. If they come out to see you, then they are in the mood for company. If they do no...more
Kwesi 章英狮
I'm not born to be a runner, but God given us something to run. Since elementary or let me say since the day I was born, I'm not really into running. I'm weak physically but I can do things simple and I can play table tennis, more than that, I'm like a weakling of our generation. I always ask myself, what does it feels to be running in a field or grass and flowers or in a place where orange sand, cactus and animals that spits poison can be found? Reading books was like running, it was like lifti...more
Dan
Apr 14, 2010 Dan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: running
A compelling read, brilliant story and fascinating subject matter, but somehow falls short of being a great book.

I'm not sure where it goes wrong exactly, but for me it might have been the number of characters which I struggled to keep track of, the slightly preachy tone of the anti-shoe chapters (persuasive though they are) or the negative coverage of apparently less worthy ultra runners who dared to accept sponsorship or promote their own books. None of these, or other faults, completely spoil...more
Nicholas Sparks
This has to be one of my favorite books of the last few years. It's non-fiction, but it reads like a thrilling adventure, complete with a high-octane conclusion, all with a bit of science thrown in. It's a fantastic look at the sport of ultra-distance running, but trust me when I say that once you start reading, it's impossible to put down.
Dougal
I realise I'm in minority here but I really didn't enjoy this book at all. As a result of all the rave reviews I bought a copy for both myself and a friend - we were both hugely disappointed.

The author, Christopher McDougall, is an American magazine correspondent and this perhaps goes someway to explain a lot of what I didn't like about the book. To begin with, it is written in a totally 'omniscient' manner, ie McDougall can see inside everyone's head. This is excessive, continuous, and extends...more
Brian
I listened to this as an audiobook on a long road trip about two years ago, and found myself skipping gas stops and bathroom breaks because I was too interested in what happened next. McDougall tells a riveting story about runners and running that manages to also be a sort of ethnography and treatise on one specific, but significant, circuit of human evolution. A lot of the runners McDougall writes about seem crazy to me, but they are a kind of committed, overachieving crazy, and that makes for...more
Jason
Mar 31, 2010 Jason rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Runners with frequent injuries
Born to Run is one of the most compelling books I've read in the last few years. And without a doubt, chapter 28 is THE most compelling 30 pages of non-fiction I've read in 8 years.

I'm not a runner. But reading this book dumped the same endorphins into my veins that marathoners get at mile 24, leaving me with a runner's 'high.' It also left me with a nasty distaste of athletic shoe companies for wielding the biggest scam in the market bonanza of athletic shoe sales since Nike glued rubber and fo...more
Laura Avellaneda-Cruz
I was spellbound by this book, and it has made me a much better runner. I have a lot of good things to say about why I enjoyed this book and how it is useful, but being the critical social thought major, feminist anti-racist indigenist social worker I am, I also have to share what I didn't like. I'll do that first to get it out of the way so I can return to why I loved it.

Critique:
Christopher McDougall is an incredibly skillful and beautiful writer, but he has an arrogant voice in much of the b...more
Andy Miller
My only complaint was that the book was too short, or that it was so interesting and well written that I read it too fast or that I liked the characters so much that I wanted to go out for a run and have a beer with them

Book is written by a runner whose legs are beat up and told he shouldn't run anymore. He researchs alternatives and learns about the Tahahumara Indians who live in the remote and inaccessible copper canyon in Mexico.

One of my favorite chapters was about the year a few of the Taha...more
La Petite Américaine
"Just move your legs. Because if you don't think you were born to run, you're not only denying history. You're denying who you are." --Born to Run.

This book is really, really simple. If you're not a runner, the book will entertain you like the best of any of Krakauer's stories. If you do run, it will change your life. Actually, if you don't run and this book doesn't change your life, something is wrong with you.

The "I can't run because of my knee/back/feet/Achilles tendons/whatever you-fill-in...more
Brooke
This book was so awesome that it almost made me want look at running as something other than torture, and then once I could do that, to start running for fun. Almost.

There are a lot of derails (or seeming derails) in this book. So the continuity of the story gets lost semi-regularly. However, the derails are always interesting material, and almost always tie back into the overarching story really well in the end.
Karen
Interesting, but ultimately unsatisfying. The author writes from a "seller" perspective--he's trying to drum up business for his writing. There were several points in the book where I was completely convinced he was going to tell me to purchase Tahitian Noni drinks, or other nonsense.

The story felt very sensationalized and pick-and-choose for the points that will help the book. Yes, he gave us several examples, but many times the examples seemed contradictory--the Tarahumara eat only a diet of...more
Ana
This book is amazing!

From page one, I was hooked and unable to stop. I started it today at maybe 11 am and finished now, at 10 pm. With breaks and all that, I still couldn't convince myself to let it down. I had homework, dammit, and I risk getting a 4 in class because I wanted to finish this so badly.

It's been a long time since I read a book like I was thirsty for water after a ... 100 mile run through the Death Valley, suppose. See? Now everything comes in running terms, and I'm so far away...more
Craig
I don't run.

That doesn't matter. I loved this book. It makes me want to run. Barefoot. It makes marathons seem like walks in the park. Some people complained that this book is like a long magazine article. Well, I like some magazine articles. In fact, I like a lot of articles from The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, etc. So, I am not sure why that is a bad thing.

This book opens up a world, a people, that I didn't know existed. Why didn't I? Why doesn't everybody? And, why does everyone...more
JulesQ
My four-star rating is actually a 7 on a 10-point scale, which is the composite score from my three ratings of it, my rating as an aspiring runner, its rating as a story, and its rating as journalism/non-fiction.

As a runner, I give this book a solid 10. By the end of it I was so inspired about running that I wanted to just go and run 50 miles right out the gate. I'm not even kidding (however, I thought better of that and decided to stick to my 3-mile jaunts). So, way to be super inspiring, Born...more
Rick
McDougall is a journalist, a former war correspondent and current feature writer on extreme sports, like ultra-marathons. Born to Run has the virtues and faults of feature magazine writing, particularly when articles are either exploded to book length or several with thematic links are knitted together to comprise a single book. The book is by turns fascinating and aggravating. Part of the problem is McDougall’s tendency to hyperbole, which given the dramatic nature of the potential consequences...more
Annie
Aug 10, 2010 Annie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Annie by: Katherine Lowe
I have reached a point in my life where I can say that I actually like running. Some days, I even LOVE it. This book is filled with colorful characters, races, and topics surrounding this activity. A journalist begins running and is plagued with some running injuries. After being told by two sports medicine doctors that his best option would be to quit, Christopher McDougall stubbornly chooses another path. He tries to find the Tarahumura, a super-secret hidden tribe in the Copper Canyons of Mex...more
Virgilio Pigliucci
During my last interview at Goodreads I had the pleasure of meeting Otis via Skype.... and when He asked what my favorite read was I said: Born To Run.

This should be enough to explain my enthusiasm for this book but here it comes my review.

The very beginning of the book might be a bit confusing, the narrative is pretty scattered and for an avid Triathlete/Runner that I am It did not sound as fun to read.

After the first chapters though the book picks you up in a journey of adventure, learning and...more
Mike
Oh man, did this book stink. In the words of Eric Cartman, "Goddamn hippies!" This book was a weird mixup of topics: Mexican-Indian runners, American ultrarunners, humans evolution is based on running, running shoes are bad for you, salad for breakfast is the way to go, Nike is evil, everything in life would be better if we all ran way more, etc... You get the idea. I think I would have liked this book if it had been an history of the Mexican tribal runners. Instead McDougall makes an effort to...more
Shelah

My friend Blue came over a few weeks ago, bearing this book, with the instructions that I had to read it immediately because it would change my life. It's actually several stories: the story of Christopher McDougall, aging runner, who wants to figure out why he keeps getting hurt every time he laces up his running shoes; the story of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico, who still manage 50-mile runs in their fifties and sixties in some of the world's most challenging terrain, and do it with smiles...more
Alasse
I'm having a really hard time finding the words for this review.

I think I should start by saying I don't do "inspiring" books, or sports movies of any kind. I think it's because of the same reason I never give pep talks to patients. I find it sounds corny and fake, and it reeks of self-importance. Which is probably the reason I connected with this book on such a deep level.

After injuring himself repeatedly while running, Christopher McDougall did some research and heard about the Tarahumara, a l...more
Herbie
I can't remember the last time I stayed up until 4 am finishing a book because I couldn't put it down.

I can remember the last time I closed a book and knew that it would permanently change my life. The book was Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser and the paradigm shift it wrought upon me was tangible and physical. I closed the book and knew I would never eat meat again, and that I would never order fast food with ease. Similarly, Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma forever changed how I think...more
Steve
This reminded me of one of those great human interest stories you might have stumbled upon in Sports Illustrated back in its heyday. The personalities were interesting, the pace was good, and the fact that it’s a fringe sport made it all the more fascinating. Hundred mile ultras at altitude are bound to attract an odd cast of characters. To the preternaturally persistent nut cases on the US side add a remote tribe of corn beer-quaffing, peace-loving, super runners from the Copper Canyons of Mexi...more
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Christopher McDougall is an American author and journalist best known for his 2009 best-selling book Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. He has also written for Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, Outside, Men's Journal, and New York, and was a contributing editor for Men's Health.

McDougall is a 1985 graduate of Harvard University. He spent...more
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“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 run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.” 288 likes
“You don't stop running because you get old, you get old because you stop running.” 109 likes
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