Becky's Reviews > Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
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Oct 27, 2011

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Read in October, 2011

This book started with a really irritating, gee-whiz, magic-Indians, huckstery tone. But about a third of the way through, it either got a better or I got used to McDougall's style and wasn't annoyed by it anymore. I almost started liking the guy, even though I still find it disturbing that although he discovered he'd been blindingly rude to the first Tarahumara he met (by Tarahumara cultural standards), it hasn't occurred to him that his behavior was rude *by American cultural standards* too. Maybe that's an occupational hazard of being a journalist.

The actual content was really interesting. I admit that it played to my biases, which are that if you need to buy a bunch of products in order to pursue a simple activity then you're probably doing it wrong, and that nature is smarter than we are (which may be saying the same thing two different ways). His point that the ordinary human foot is well-designed for its job, and that we injure and deform it by putting it in a cast (i.e. shoe) is pretty persuasive. I grew up wearing sturdy hard-soled shoes whenever I wasn't sleeping, because my family's pediatric orthopedist (why did those in my family who didn't have scoliosis even go to an orthopedist?) recommended it. Since becoming convinced that going barefoot is healthier, I've taken a few years to strengthen my feet. It's a little disturbing to think that my "foundation" (as they call it in yoga) was so atrophied, and that I wasn't even aware of it.

I doubt I'll ever be an ultra runner (or even a micro runner), but reading about the joy to be found in trail running helped me understand why anyone would do such a thing. I appreciated McDougall's point that if running isn't fun and you get injured all the time, you should reexamine your assumptions. I also enjoyed the discussion about competition and true sportsmanship bringing people together, not pitting them against one another.

I'd give this book 3.5 stars if I could. I really liked most of it, but I can't quite forgive McDougall for the first third of the book.
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