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

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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.

287 pages, Hardcover

First published April 23, 2009

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About the author

Christopher McDougall

20 books1,117 followers
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 three years as a foreign correspondent for the Associated Press, covering civil wars in Rwanda and Angola.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 16,371 reviews
Profile Image for Dougal.
47 reviews38 followers
February 2, 2011
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 right across the board from events to which he was privy, through events to which he was not, on to imagined `eureka moments' of various research scientists. In a similar manner, he describes events from the past, where he wasn't present, in a way he clearly feels will paint some sort of picture: eg `Then she wiped her greasy mouth on her sports bra, burped up some Dew, and bounded off'. Maybe she did wipe her mouth on her sports bra, but it seems doubtful, and I feel quite sure she never gave him an account, years later, of her burp.

In a similar vein I confess that I didn't like the continuous use of words like `chomp' instead of `eat' and `chug' instead of `drink'. I imagine that is just a difference in usage when comparing opposite sides of the Atlantic but I did find myself wishing someone would just 'eat' something! And I do wonder if the use of block capitals as well as italics was really necessary. I am not talking about the start of each chapter but sentences like:
'...I remember thinking What in the HELL? How in the HELL is this possible? That was the first thing, the first CHINK IN THE WALL, that MAYYYBEE modern shoe companies don't have all the answers...' (nine of those lowercase words are in italics, which I can't format here).

So, we clearly have a very fictionalised account. But is any of it complete fiction? Well, yes it is. We are told on page 16 that the Tarahumara `barely eat any protein at all'. Well, with a physiology degree to back it up, I can tell you that leads only one way... to wasting and eventual death. It comes as a bit of a surprise then to be told on page 209 that `the traditional Tarahumara diet exceeds the United Nations' recommended daily intake [for protein] by more than 50 percent'. Perhaps by page 209 we are expected to have forgotten what he wrote earlier.

On page 157 we are told, in relation to qualifying for the Boston Marathon that `...99.9 percent of all runners never will...'. Really? And how was that figure arrived at? For any average runner who puts in training, qualifying for Boston (like me!) is not difficult: 20,000 runners run it every year -- not qualify, which will be many, many times more -- actually run it. The implication behind his figure is that only 1 in 1000 marathoners who would specifically like to qualify do, ie 19,980,000 don't, which is clearly rubbish. His misuse of percentages crops up several times. It is patronising to the reader to assume that he doesn't understand what a percentage means. And it makes one more than doubt when we are told figures like '...70 to 80 percent..'. A particular problem with this is that it sounds as if he is being authorative when, in fact, he's not.

His problem with Math(s) unfortunately isn't limited to the use of hyperbole with percentages. He unwittingly shows his problem, in typical journalistic style, in rather stark detail! On page 239, to work out how much older than 27 is an age that is equivalent to the increase in age from 19 to 27, he has to get out his notebook!!: `All righty. I flipped my notebook to a blank page and started jotting numbers. It takes....[I'll spare you the next four lines]...' He comes up with 36. Point made.

But it is the disingenuous nature of much of his writing that I really took exception to. I will give two examples:

One: who do you think ran the fastest?
(a) Page 15: `Lance Armstrong is one of the greatest endurance athletes of all time, and he could barely shuffle through his first marathon despite sucking down an energy gel nearly every mile.'
(b) Page 157: `...Ted...transformed himself...into...a barefoot marathoner with such speed that he was able to accomplish something that 99.9 percent of all runners never will: he qualified for the Boston Marathon.' [I've already talked about the 99.9 percent]
Answer: We don't know because we aren't told their times. Well, I can tell you: Lance Armstrong, by a long way. In 2006 his 'shuffle' resulted in a time of 2:59:36 and he came 868th out of 37,866 finishers; a brilliant result for a first marathon (and ten minutes under the very fastest age group Boston qualifying time)! And Barefoot Ted? In 2006 he completed the Boston Marathon in 3:20:16, coming in 3,848th out of 19,682 finishers. Not a shuffle either, but in a completely different, and slower, league. In fact, to refer to a result under three hours (faster than seven minutes a mile) as a shuffle is just gratuitiously insulting. McDougall seems to have a downer on Armstrong, as he slates him elsewhere in the book - the reason never becomes apparent.

Two: Why do you think `...Abele Bikila - the Ethiopian marathoner who ran barefoot over the cobblestones of Rome to win the 1960 Olympic marathon...' didn't wear shoes? - we are told this interesting fact in a paragraph about Barefoot Ted researching the benefits of barefoot running. Well, I can tell you, although the book doesn't, that it wasn't anything to do with the benefits of barefoot running. What we aren't told in the book is that Abele Bikila had an upset before the 1960 marathon and couldn't find a pair of shoes to fit and decided to chance running barefoot as he had trained that way; nor are we told that he chose to run in shoes at the subsequent 1964 Olympics.

On the subject of barefoot running, it's interesting that the photograph on the back of the hardback edition shows five runners, presumably principal characters from the book, all wearing running shoes.

Turning to the so called `scientific research' that McDougall is fond of reporting, again we must doubt a lot of what we are told. Why? Because it is presented in a way we can't trust. Yes, some of it may be true, but how much? And how much are we being presented with information that is propounded as fact or we are led to believe shows one thing, but may show something else? Just one set of examples will make the general point:
Page 170: `...no matter how much you run, your odds of getting hurt are the same.' This is utter rubbish and is clearly so, using reductio ad absurdum, apart from all the evidence to the contrary.
Page 171: `Is any shoe manufacturer prepared to claim that wearing their distance running shoes will decrease your risk of...injuries...[or]...improve your distance running performance?' No shoe manufacturer followed up the [Dr Richard's] challenge. The conclusion is drawn that `running shoes don't make you go faster and don't stop you from getting hurt..' This is absolute twaddle and I won't insult anyone's intelligence by explaining why.
Page 172: The conclusion that McDougall draws from a study that found that "Wearers of expensive running shoes...are injured significantly more frequently than runners wearing expensive shoes..." is the following: `What a cruel joke: for double the price, you get double the pain.' Possibly, possibly. Could it just be that the buyers of more expensive shoes are those runners who push the boundaries of their training more aggressively?
Unfortunately, the whole book is stuffed with this sort of biased writing dressed up as 'scientific fact'; we are used to it in the popular press -- we get a bookful here.

For those of you interested in the 'science', I recommend reading this: http://www.hfs-clinics.co.uk/blog/pod...

I could go on, about the very dubious anthropological details, nutrition and hydration anomalies etc, but I have written too much already.

The book is just an adventure story, fiction based on fact; enjoy it if you can stomach the style; just take everything with a very big pinch of salt!

[For anyone considering it, at the very least don't purchase the Kindle edition: there is a spelling mistake on the first page that doesn't bode well for the rest of the book (the spelling mistake is not there in the print edition).]

Profile Image for Lena.
Author 1 book348 followers
July 8, 2020
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. These people were said to be able to run for days at a time through unforgiving terrain wearing nothing more on their feet than sandals made from thin strips of tire rubber. So McDougall set out to find these mysterious people, but doing so was not easy. The Copper Canyons where they live are extremely difficult to get to, and the trip is made even more hazardous by having to pass through drug farming country on the way.

In addition to being a sometimes nail-biting tale about the author's quest to find the Tarahumara, Born to Run also weaves in the fascinating history of the sport of ultra-running. Ultra-marathons are races consisting of any distance longer than a marathon. McDougall discusses how this crazy sport first came into being, highlighting along the way the stories of the participants who have slowly begun to make it famous.

McDougall narrates this history in real time, resulting in descriptions of several races that were so gripping I couldn't put the book down. One of these races was the Leadville Trail 100, a 100-mile race at 11,000 feet in which the Tarahumara faced off against an ultra-running prodigy named Ann Trason.

As McDougall weaves together the story of ultra-running's past with his own quest to find the Tarahumara and become a better runner, he also relays a fascinating tale about scientific discoveries into our evolutionary past suggesting that it was our ability to run long distances without getting winded, and thus get all that extra protein from the bounding antelope we were able to outlast, that gave us the evolutionary edge needed to grow our huge brains. These sections also point out that we did not evolve to run on cushions with arch support, and that expensive running shoes may actually make runners more prone to injury than running in the bare feet nature so elegantly designed for us.

The book concludes with the tale of a joint venture between McDougall and a character named Caballo Blanco, a gringo who had befriended the Tarahumara and made the Copper Canyons his home. Though the Tarahumara had wowed people at Leadville, Caballo longed to see them race against America's ultra-running best on their own turf. So McDougall helped him get together a half-dozen racers and they made the dangerous trek down into the canyons. The resulting race and the sportsmanship described therein is very moving, and I finished this odd combination of memoir, sports history, adventure tale and evolutionary science with damp eyes.


Not quite a year after reading this book, I've been contemplating that question GR asks in the review process – "How did this book change your life?" because, quite unexpectedly, this book has arguably changed my life more than any I've ever read.

It started because my geekish husband, a runner, decided he needed to figure out how to make huaraches, the thin, rubber-and-lace sandals worn for long races by the Tarahumara. He made some for himself, and for me, and a few other people in the Boulder Barefoot Club, and then a lot more people in the Boulder Barefoot Club, until finally, the BB Club's founder Michael Sandler, said, "Why don’t you just put up a web site?" Steven hemmed and hawed, but Michael, who was about to publish his own comprehensive book on barefoot running (called, appropriately enough, Barefoot Running: How to Run Light and Free by Getting in Touch with the Earth, said if we had a website, he'd put it in his book. And of course, who doesn't want to be in a book?

Via the magic of the Interwebs, we soon found ourselves selling huaraches and DIY kits at http://Xeroshoes.com (which, in the decade since I first wrote this, has now grown to include a full line of minimalist shoes, boots and sandals in both casual and performance styles) to people in all 50 states and countries on six out of seven continents (we'd like to go for seven out of seven, but I'm not holding out much hope for barefoot-style running taking off in Antarctica). In the process, I, a walker, not a runner, have found that wearing these shoes, which allow me to intimately feel the ground and get the immediate feedback that forces me to adjust my slightly lopsided gait and have better form, have forever ruined me for other footwear, which now feels like wearing bricks on my feet.

So in less than 12 months, our lives have completely reorganized themselves around the process of doing everything we can to get the word out about huaraches and the overall "natural movement" movement and its recognition that expensive, highly structured athletic shoes are not your friend. It's a huge project, one that has me working harder than I have in a decade.

And, irony of ironies, it is also one that has left me with far less time to read than I had a year ago.

Damned life-changing books.
Profile Image for Lea.
442 reviews78 followers
April 5, 2011
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 hunting, the evolution of the human body, and on and on and on.

This is my all-time favourite kind of book -- entertaining, sure, but chock full of information I've never even thought about before. I'm kind of a geek -- I just love to learn new stuff!

I went into this thinking that it would probably be a pretty good book, but maybe best for super athletes, but nothing could be further from the truth. This book is for anyone who enjoys discovering new ideas and information. It also might inspire you to pick up your running shoes (or not!) and hit the trails for a nice long run.
Profile Image for Aaron.
124 reviews35 followers
April 17, 2012
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 semi-mystical lost knowledge and its someone-recently-brainwashed-to-a-weird-secular-cult tone made the book enjoyable.
Profile Image for Diane.
1,081 reviews2,717 followers
May 23, 2021
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 a few groans about McDougall's punchy, magazine-writing style that doesn't always translate well to book form, but overall, this was an engrossing read. It covers a motley cast of outdoorsy characters from America and Mexico, including the elite runners of the elusive Tarahumara Indian tribe, several incredible foot races, research on running and training methods, and there is even a captivating digression into how the Bushmen of the Kalahari go hunting.

At its heart, the story is about human endurance, compassion for others, and the theory that our bodies were "born to run." There is a thoughtful chapter on the evolution of homo sapiens from other mammals, and the ways in which the human form is designed to be able to cover an incredible amount of distance.

"Know why people run marathons? Because running is rooted in our collective imagination, and our imagination is rooted in running. Language, art, science; space shuttles, Starry Night, intravascular surgery; they all had their roots in our ability to run. Running was the superpower that made us human -- which means it's a superpower all humans possess."

As mentioned, there are also sections on the nutritional power of chia seeds, vegetarianism, and a training theory that runners should spend more time barefoot to build up their strength. I won't lecture you about any of that as I had found it exhausting when others preached to me (there is a line between enthusiasm and evangelism), but I did find the information interesting and will take it under advisement.

Along the way, McDougall shares his own stories of running injuries and how he found different trainers to teach him ways to run more efficiently and with more joy. Yes, joy.

"How do you flip the internal switch that changes us all back into the Natural Born Runners we once were? Not just in history, but in our own lifetimes. Remember? Back when you were a kid and you had to be yelled at to slow down? Every game you played, you played at top speed, sprinting like crazy as you kicked cans, freed all, and attacked jungle outposts in your neighbors' backyards ... That was the real secret of the Tarahumara: they'd never forgotten what it felt like to love running. They remembered that running was mankind's first fine art, our original act of inspired creation. 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 ... Distance running was revered because it was indispensable; it was the way we survived and thrived and spread across the planet. You ran to eat and to avoid being eaten; you ran to find a mate and impress her, and with her you ran off to start a new life together. You had to love running, or you wouldn't live to love anything else."

The narrative builds to an amazing foot race in the blazing hot Copper Canyons of Mexico, with some top American athletes competing against a group of Tarahumara runners. Friends, I would be lying if I said I made it through that incredible story without getting choked up by the beauty of what happened that day. I could share quotes, but I think you need to read it in context and experience the grit and grace and humanity for yourself.

This book was so inspiring that I vowed to make an effort to go running more often. And I shall run with joy and compassion in my heart.

Update May 2021
I've been in the mood for running books lately and decided to re-read "Born to Run" by listening to it on audio. I really enjoyed my re-read, and enough time had passed since I had first read it that I had forgotten some key events, so it all seemed fresh and new again. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Jeanette (Ms. Feisty).
2,179 reviews1,944 followers
August 23, 2011
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!!!" reporting style. A little more objectivity and a lot less hipness, Mr. McDougall.
Profile Image for Books Ring Mah Bell.
357 reviews263 followers
April 1, 2012
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 training may have helped.) I looked at most distance runners as mentally ill - something was wrong with those people. They were running from something, I decided, maybe from being fat, or being sad, maybe running from addictions or desires. Nuts. All of them. (Maybe I was just jealous of their slow twitch muscle fibers.) Most of the time I found the races to be miserable, and looking at most of the runners, it seemed they did too. Grimaces, frowns, bloody nipples, knee braces... yeah, FUN!

This book jogged my memory of those few times I did find running to be fun. One of those times was during a 5K called "Hair of the Frog", put on by a local brewery. It was early spring, it was cold, raining ice, There was thunder and lightning. I'm not sure if it was oxygen deprivation, or perhaps that amazing runner's high, but midway through the race, I was in nirvana. The trees around me looked beautiful encased in ice. I felt.... amazing. Alive. Primal. It did not matter that I was not going to win this race. (In fact, this race even had an award for finishing DFL, Dead F-ing Last.) It was then that I got it. I understood why some people really love to run. Had it not been for the pints of beer waiting at the finish line, I'm pretty sure I would have rerun the course with glee. Over time, I forgot about that sensation, busy with life, I rarely ran. I remember now.

Author Christopher McDougall writes about and participates in extreme adventure sports. He struggles with running injuries. The doctors suggest shots, orthotics, and offer the advice, "if it hurts, stop doing it.".

While in Mexico on an assignment, McDougall discovers the Tarahumara, an anthropological gem - a superhuman species, hidden deep in the formidable Sierra Madres. These people run extreme distances, and they run into old age, when the rest of the world resigns to rocking chairs. McDougall sets out to find these people, to discover how they run without injury, how they continue to run into old age. In the process, meets a man, Caballo Blanco, who wants to set up a race between these superhumans and the elite ultra runners of the United States.

There is so much more to this book than people running. This book talks about culture, society, obsession, science.

One of the most compelling parts of the book - the evidence presented that we are indeed born to run. One scientist points to the nuchal ligament on the back of our skulls, which fast moving animals have to keep the head in place while running. The topic of persistence hunting comes in to support the point and it is utterly fascinating. Running on two legs may not make us as fast as the quadripeds, but it does allow us to breathe more efficiently. And all these fabulous sweat glands we have? We can run longer without overheating, unlike the mammals not as well equipped with such a cooling system. we may not be fast enough to run down a deer in minutes, but after enduring for several miles, we can overtake the deer as it drops from overheating and exhaustion.

The cast of characters is simply amazing. I have already mentioned my thought that serious runners are a bit off in the head. The group of ultrarunners mentioned in the book may make the case for me. We meet Jenn and Billy, two surfer kids turned ultrarunners, that party all night to the point of puking, and get a few hours of sleep (by passing out) and rise, ready to go for a VERY long run. Jack Kirk, an elderly trail runner, is mentioned briefly, but was so fascinating I had to google him. ( http://runtrails.blogspot.com/2007/02... ) There's Barefoot Ted, running trails sans shoes (or if his feet need protection, he uses Vibram Five Fingers). And the mastermind behind the race, Caballo Blanco, a gringo who indeed was running from something.

This story is so, SO worth reading.
The only thing that could have improved the book... pictures.

Now, if you'll excuse me, there's a trail calling me to run.

Maybe I am a runner after all.
Profile Image for Nicholas Sparks.
Author 299 books226k followers
September 17, 2012
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.
Profile Image for Mike.
51 reviews2 followers
November 23, 2010
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 show how every facet of life is or should revolve around running. Classic case of "way too immersed in a subject to have any perspective."

Also, the "hero" of the book is a guy who spent some time in Boulder (shocking!), gets divorced, drops out of life, moves to Mexico, lives in a hut, runs a lot, and returns to Boulder during the summer to do some "freelance furniture-moving jobs" (hilarious description, the author's words) for cash. I was impressed by his ability to organize the race that is the focus of the book, but was so annoyed by the way the author portrayed him as some kind of modern anti-hero who really has life figured out. The last line of the book is his; "Running should be free, man." I'm guessing he's really bummed that drugs aren't.

I've edited this review several times, because it's gotten way too long. I could tear this book apart page-by-page, it's so obnoxious. But I'll let you read it and see for yourself, or better yet, skip it.
Profile Image for Always Pouting.
575 reviews761 followers
November 27, 2022
I have been trying to get better at running (trying being the operative word) and someone recommended this book when I was talking to them. The book definitely made me want to stick with running and made me think about how it can actually be kind of fun. I also keep straining my calf so I might try out minimalistic running shoes and see if that helps.

I did find the way running is framed as some sort of panacea for the worlds ills to be a bit much though. Also the style of writing is something that I've kind of grown tired of but it's unfortunately the way a lot of contemporary non fiction is written.
Profile Image for Sam Quixote.
4,539 reviews12.9k followers
November 16, 2021
Christopher McDougall hurt his legs running which sent him down a rabbit hole where he learned about ultrarunning (veeeeery long marathons), running barefoot and human physiology, and a mysterious tribe of Mexican running shamans called the Tarahumara. All of that information culminates in this book: Born to Run.

Born to Run is a compelling book about the amazing world of ultrarunning. It’s populated with a number of extraordinary individuals - Emil Zatopek, Ann Trason, Scott Jurek, Jenn “Mookie” Shelton, Billy “Bonehead” Barrett - all of whom ran insane distances constantly, somehow, as well as the real stars of the book, the Tarahumara tribe, who can allegedly run over 400 miles in one go! He also covers the genesis and stories of punishing ultraraces like Leadville and the history of running shoes, how Nike got started, and how their product evolved over the decades to where we are now.

I was expecting more science in this book than there was. He eventually gets around to explaining the meaning behind the title by looking at our early Homo Sapien ancestors who somehow outlasted Neanderthals and puts forward the theory that the reason for this was persistence hunting. That is, when the meat supply became smaller and more mobile post-Ice Age, Neanderthals couldn’t run to capture their prey but Homo Sapiens could chase after antelope for miles until the antelope collapsed - animals can’t regulate their body heat as well as humans - and so Homo Sapiens got their protein that way and continued to develop while Neanderthals couldn’t get enough protein and eventually died off.

I don’t know enough about the subject to say whether or not this theory still holds water today (or if it ever did) but the running man theory is an interesting one regardless. And that’s the thing with McDougall - he’s a storyteller, not a scientist. So when he writes about the benefits of non-meat diets in long-distance running as well as doing it barefoot and the key to the Tarahumara’s endurance being pure enjoyment (it’s all in the head, man), I’m not sure how much to trust this information.

Still, even if that information is shaky, I can see that it comes from a good place and the messaging isn’t totally bereft of usefulness. It might be worthwhile for some people who have foot/leg issues to try barefoot running as it seems to have helped many, including McDougall; eating less meat is probably a positive thing most of us could benefit from too; and finding simple enjoyment from experiences and our communities should be something we all strive for. Running is good for most of us and the human body is more capable of incredible things than we realise. That said, I’m not about to start running barefoot or give up animal protein either (though I have incorporated chia seeds in my diet, the Tarahumara’s secret ingredient to their endurance feats - like multivitamins, I can’t tell if it’s doing anything but I’ma keep it up anyway)!

McDougall is a fine narrator and the book is often fun to read, even if the style gets a bit too novelistic at times. I’m sure he interviewed his subjects and then adapted their words into this easily-digestible story format, but I feel like it’s overly narrative-ish at times. Particularly in the structure of the book which culminates in a race through the Mexican canyons (with no real stakes) and the “reveal” of Caballo Blanco’s backstory (the “White Horse” - the chap who captured McDougall’s attention early on) who isn’t the towering presence in the book that McDougall thinks he is. It feels contrived, even corny, like a bad Hollywood movie.

For me, this book is somewhere between three and four stars out of five but I’ll be generous and give it four as I enjoyed it more than not. Expect less of a detailed look at the science behind running and more of a series of fun stories about some remarkable ultrarunners.
Profile Image for Tanja Berg.
1,904 reviews437 followers
November 24, 2018
Nearly five years ago I started walking. As I got stronger, I progressed to running. Then came the winter of 2015-2016 when I had a cough that would not let up and consecutive colds. Plus I had a young dog. I went back to walking. Although my hikes were long, it wasn't quite the same and I started to regain the weight I had lost. Two months ago, I decided that enough was enough. If I wanted to avoid buying bigger clothes I would have to do something. Either run and see if that helps, or if that hadn't helped by Christmas, start going to the gym. Horror of horrors for an outdoors person such as myself.

I exchanged my walks for interval runs and the effect was immediate. Within two weeks I could button all my blouses again and the black pants I couldn't button I had to wear a belt for. That was really as far as my weight loss scheme went, although I keep an eye on it still. What I discovered too was that rather than taking my usual routes faster, I would simply be out for my usual hour, hour and half - difference being that I covered a lot more ground. I found a world beyond my usual routes. I went up new trails in the woods I knew well. I went further. I discovered that after about ten kilometers, a joy surfaces that I didn't know I could feel. My weekend trail runs are now twenty km - a day. Not because it makes me thin, but because it makes me happy.

It's the lull of the rythm while keeping an eye on roots and stones. It's the falling leaves, the landscape, the lakes. Today I came to a lake that had just frozen and frost had blown across the newly formed ice. The trees and moss and grass were white from frost. It was so incredibly beautiful that I teared up with gratitude for being able to be there and see it.

This book "Born to run" is a fantastic story that confirms what I have discovered. We are, indeed, born to run long distances. It's a story about crazy ultra runners, for whom marathons are too short - they go much further. What they have found is a joy of running.

There is also this funny chapter about how shoes have caused so much damage to us. It is better to run with cheap shoes that aren't padded because then the running style - landing on your padded forefoot - is easy on the body. Landing on your heels causes all kinds of problems, whether you are running with air padded shoes or not.

I loved this book because it was an affirmation of what I have found on my cross country trails: happiness.
Profile Image for David Rubenstein.
816 reviews2,581 followers
September 26, 2015
While I am not a runner, I found this book to be quite engaging. I can recommend it to anyone interested in running, indigenous peoples, or wacky characters!

This book is about long-distance races over rugged, desert terrain. It is about a hidden tribe, the Tarahumara, who live in the Copper Canyone area of the Sierra Madre, a remote, desert region in Mexico. The tribe is very wary of strangers. They speak their own native language. They live in a rugged, wild country that takes days to reach. Just getting there is dangerous, as it involves evading drug runners and rugged, roadless desert terrain.

It is a wonder that the tribe flourishes, because just getting from one village to another requires enormous athleticism and stamina. But this seems to be no problem for the Tarahumara, many of whom are superathletes. They frequently run enormous distances, over 100 miles, without a problem. They don't wear running shoes; they usually wear homemade sandals made of a thin strip of rubber.

The main story is about a 50-mile race through Copper Canyon in a heat-scorching sun. Many colorful characters compete in the race. Their attitudes toward life and toward running are fun and often funny. I cannot imagine how some of them could have made it out of the desert alive at all, let alone made it across the finish line.

The most surprising part of the book is the description of how high-end running shoes tend to slow runners down and make runners twice as prone to injuries as low-end shoes. Imagine their surprise when Nike employees visited a college track team, and saw that they were practicing barefoot. Running barefoot is less conducive to injuries that top-of-the-line running shoes!

The antics of a couple of the characters in the book started to make me feel like this was just a sophomoric book about happy-go-lucky college kids. But there was enough interest in the book to keep me engaged to the very last page.

I didn't read this book; I listened to the audiobook version. Fred Sanders is a very good reader, and his accents sounded realistic and help propel the story forward.
Profile Image for Sharon.
248 reviews103 followers
May 23, 2018
What a weird, wonderful (true!) story.

Upon finishing this, I spent the better part of the day on YouTube, looking for any additional information I could find on the Tarahumara tribe, chia seeds, Caballo Blanco, Scott Jurek, Ann Trason, the Leadville Trail Race, running barefoot, persistence hunting, even the author Christopher McDougall. It was everything I didn't know I needed to know about ultra-running, why we run, and the legends in the sport. The novel takes the reader on a wild and random trip, down multiple rabbit-holes, all subjects equally fascinating and Google-worthy. The cast of characters are unforgettable (runners/party animals Jenn Shelton and Billy Barnett—particularly Jenny—were an absolute delight). It culminates in one of the most interesting races I had never heard of.

Terrific audiobook. I was sad when it was over.

Note: Caballo Blanco passed away in 2012 (this is not mentioned in the book). Rest in Peace. What a beautiful soul. Reports say he was found in a canyon in New Mexico, very close to the way he said he hoped we would pass in the novel.
Profile Image for Rick.
778 reviews2 followers
April 4, 2010
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 to running 100 miles in a desert or the drama that should be inherent in top competitors racing each other in circumstance of high risk or landscape changes in evolutionary understanding, is a technique that seems not just unnecessary but undermining. Everyone can’t be the greatest, the toughest, the fastest. Every circumstance can’t be life-changing, world shattering, life or death. Instead of a journalist he comes across as a marketing man.

Another part of the problem is McDougall has a school yard bully approach to storytelling—he uses the story-teller’s long arm advantage over the reader (he knows what’s coming; we’re reading to find out) to hold us at a distance, while he taunts with digressions, sidebars, and postponed payoffs, we swing away at the pages not getting where we want to get. The description of a Leadville ultra-marathon race that took place some years before the main events of the book goes on and on and several times I nearly went to the internet to find out the result because I was tired of flailing away while McDougall kept me waiting to indulge his sense of narrative fun.

But there is fascinating stuff, often engrossingly told, about the Tarahumara, a remote tribe of Native Americans in Mexico who are capable of running non-stop and never are injured; about how running shoes contribute to running injuries, about how world-class ultra-marathon races are competitively coed, and about the theory that lends itself to the book’s title, that humans evolved to run, contrary to what most experts claim. So there is enough here to keep most readers going who are interested in running (my fiancée, who is not interested in running but was interested in the Tarahumara gave up half-way through the book) and this kind of pop-journalism. I liked what I learned but didn’t enjoy the learning all that much.
Profile Image for Suanne Laqueur.
Author 25 books1,510 followers
April 30, 2017
I am not a runner. I hate to run. I would rather die than run. I have zero interest in ever becoming a runner. Yet I've read this book three times. It's about so much more than running. It's interesting as hell, funny as fuck, engrossing, fascinating... I will read it again. You could say I will go running back to it. Many times.
Profile Image for Dan.
39 reviews7 followers
April 14, 2010
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 the experience of discovering the inspiring characters and insights contained within, but they detracted from it a bit for me at least.

Despite its faults, I'm pumped up and ready to run having just put the book down. Given that it's midnight and I'm knackered, I think that means it has done something right. The case against overpriced running shoes is also extremely persuasive and has got me thinking about what my first pair of 'barefoot' shoes should be.

All in all, well worth reading for the subject matter, but not quite the great book it could have been.

Profile Image for Kimberly .
542 reviews66 followers
December 6, 2022
This book is informative, inspiring and fun. Originally published in 2009, it is not outdated at all. The author explores the sport of distance running to help himself and finds intriguing running partners in the native Tarahumara of Mexico, as well as some crazy American characters who race through the copper canyons. One hopes that Ambrose Bierce was watching them from his own hideaway in the canyons. Wonderful!

My thanks to the publisher, Knopf Books, for my copy of this book. #Goodreads Giveaway.
Profile Image for Otis Chandler.
392 reviews114k followers
February 17, 2020
Fascinating tales of super runners, and some of the science of why some humans can do 100 mile running races, and even how we evolved from being a running race.

The book starts with an investigation of why "Up to eight out of every ten runners are hurt every year.", a notion that stands at odds with the fact that some people can run, and even compete in, races that are 26, 50, 100, and even 150 miles long. In particular, there is a race of people in Mexico, the Tarahumara who regularly do runs of those distances, over crazy hard terrain and in crazy hot temperatures. Clearly, these people have figured out how to run without injuring themselves, and how to do it while having FUN! Both of those are key.

I'd heard about and read a little about proper running form being to not heel strike, but this put that into a new light. Aside from the Tarahumara running crazy distances in rubber sandals, there was this quote from legendary Stanford running coach Vin Lananna:

"Coach Lananna walked over to explain. “I can’t prove this,” he explained, “but I believe when my runners train barefoot, they run faster and suffer fewer injuries."

Between that and the publication of this book, thus began the explosion of barefoot shoes (side note: anyone know how those things are selling these days?). Basically barefoot training forces your feet to land more gently, is how we evolved to run, and mucking with that by putting on big cushioned running shoes is why so many runners get injured. Thanks, Nike. Certainly worth trying.

The Running Theory of Evolution was interesting too - what if humans became upright because we had evolved into the ultimate distance running machines, using that for millennia to hunt before we invented tools like the bow and arrow. It is possible to hunt a deer by running it down, but it takes ~4-6 hours - basically, marathon distance - hmmm... Also interesting is that all running animals (cheetah, dogs, horses, etc) can only take one breathe per stride because of the way their lungs work - we humans are the only ones who can take multiple.

"Because if David was right, he’d just solved the greatest mystery in human evolution. No one had ever figured out why early humans had separated themselves from all creation by taking their knuckles off the ground and standing up. It was to breathe! To open their throats, swell out their chests, and suck in air better than any other creature on the planet."

So basically, we evolved into a running species and it's in our genes. Not all of us love it anymore because... well we don't need to run to survive anymore. But if you can dig in and discover how to do it properly, you might unlock a love of something that our bodies possibly actually ARE designed to do, despite a lot opinions to the contrary.

Some distance runners and endurance athletes do what they do because they are trying to punish some demon inside themselves. But I think that running for the love of it is really the best message this book contains. That's why the Tarahumara have smiles on their faces as they run - something I'm going to keep in mind.

"That was the real secret of the Tarahumara: they’d never forgotten what it felt like to love running."
Profile Image for Megan Baxter.
985 reviews664 followers
July 2, 2014
Born To Run was okay. It's not great, it's not stellar, it's not maddening. It's okay. The writing is serviceable. The research is a little spotty, but okay for the type of book this is. It made me want to try running, just a little. That's definitely saying something.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Profile Image for Петър Стойков.
Author 2 books282 followers
January 28, 2022
Тази много широко рекламирана и много популярна книга за бягането се оказа поредния ню-ейдж боклук, гарниран с хипстър био натурален боклук и за капак псевдо-спортен боклук.

Да, в Андите 100% има митично загубено племе вегетарианци, които с една шепа чия на ден бягат по 300 км боси по планинските камънаци. Да, никой никога не ги е чувал и виждал, защото са древна забравена легенда но авторът успява да ги намери след дълго и мъчително търсене, изразяващо се в това да пита пиколото в хотела. Да, чия (тва са едни семенца) накисната във вода е тайната рецепта на племето, вълшебната енергийна напитка, която е супер био-еко-натурална и съдържа "енергийна и витаминна бомба" колкото десет други био-еко-натуралнаи ястия на едно.

Да, бягането е супер вредно, защото има мерзък корпоративен заговор на големите корпоративни корпорации за корпоративното производство на обувки за бягане с корпоративната фарма-мафия да ни държат в неведение, че всъщност ако бягаме боси всичко ще ни е наред (а не, както е всъщност, че меките обувки ти позволяват да бягаш на пети, което вредно за ставите, и че ако бягаш на пръсти всичко е ок).

Всичко в "Родени да тичат през каньоните на Мексико" е толкова предвидимо и по сценарий, че няма на къде повече - даже може да се каже, че авторът е събрал всички сценарии, които продават псевдо-научна и псевдо-медицинска литература, предавания, добавки и еко-био-картофи по 9 лв килото нарочно и е нацелил рецептата която да продаде книгата му.
Profile Image for La Petite Américaine.
207 reviews1,442 followers
January 28, 2012
"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-the-blank" excuses no longer hold water after you read this book.

So, get your copy, get outside, and move your legs. Run, because we are all made to do it. Get out there, run like a muthafucka, and live bad-ass. NOW.

Kicked so much ass that I will probably read it again.

Profile Image for Laura Norton-Cruz.
80 reviews5 followers
July 26, 2015
Written in 2015:

I read and wrote the review below in 2012. Since then, I've given it some more thought and had a few years now of running in huaraches (when trail conditions permit). My personal, anecdotal experience is that huaraches do make my recurrent ankle pain way less of a problem, and it just feels good. But I wear trails shoes when the trails have lots of little rocks.

Also, I am still --and now, more -- annoyed at how little depth we got on the individual people of the Rarámuri, and how much we got of the intolerable Scott Jureck and Barefoot Ted. (Side note: When I went to buy running huaraches online, I considered Luna Sandals, but when I learned that Barefoot Ted, the owner, who learned to make them from Miguel Luna, as we learn in this book, does not share his profits with Miguel Luna or the RarámuI people, I was so pissed. Yay, more white people committing intellectual property theft from indigenous people, profiting off of their traditional knowledge...so I bought Xero Shoes instead, which give 10% of profits to schools in Rarámuri communities)

And lastly, read the 1-star review of this book here on GoodReads by Dougal. It's great. It is very carefully researched and thought out so he noticed a lot of inconsistencies that I did not.

Anyway, this book still did have a positive influence on my running and I really enjoyed it, so here is my 2012 review...

Written in 2012:
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.

Christopher McDougall is an incredibly skillful and beautiful writer, but he has an arrogant voice in much of the book, or at least the first part. It reminded me of Kai (sp?) Risdahl from NPR's Marketplace, who always sounds far too sure of himself. Sort of cocky and masculine and white American in a very un-self aware way. The arrogance faded as McDougall talked more about other people and revealed his own vulnerabilities as a runner and as a man, but some of the voice issues continued to irk me along the way. It was the way he described every running woman with some variation of wispy blond hair streaming off her face and bright blue eyes and gorgeous face... It was the way he didn't talk about his own wife and daughter barely at all (I kept wondering--how does this guy manage to do all this and be a partner and dad? How does his wife feel about him risking his life? I wanted him to address these things as a woman probably would in her book). It was the way he occasionally made casual comments that othered the Tarahumara (or Rarámuri, as they call themselves in their language) people about whom he otherwise wrote with great respect. And I guess I wish he got to know more of the Rarámuri more closely to be able to describe them as the complex individual parents/sons/daughters/farmers/runners/community members they are, in the way that he described so intimately the self-obsessed individual American ultra marathoners and the (in my opinion, quite lovable) gringo-indio, Caballo Blanco. So, I'd love to sit down with McDougall and talk some about gender and race and then send him on his way. Because I enjoyed what he was able to do with this book and I love the way he wrote it, for the most part. So on to that.


I love that this is the first book about sports that I've been able to get through and actually care deeply about the final race scene and almost cheer and applaud when the race was won. (I am an athlete, but generally don't like reading about athletics because I find most discussions very one-track-minded. This book, however, wove athletics into a much larger narrative and kept me on the edge of seat.) I loved the way McDougall wove scientific and historical journalism in with storytelling back and forth, back and forth. I loved--and was impacted by--the way he used the stories of The Rarámuri runners and the American and International runners to explore the research on running shoes and how we've been fooled into spending lots of money to get more injuries. I've been running barefoot more and more often these days when I can find the right kind of trails, a sort of return to my childhood, with the hope that this will lessen the likelihood of injury. I loved how he described his own journey to run better and particularly the discussion on form--it has made me far more conscious of my form as I run, and I notice that I too feel lighter and quicker and hurt less as a result. I loved especially how he tied what seems kind of ridiculous--marathon and ultra-marathon running--into a basic need for survival, making the argument, through anthropology and biology and history, that humans evolved to run long distances, to run down and tire out our prey. I love this. This idea in itself rejuvenates me as a runner, as did the engrossing story of the great race in the Barrancas del Cobre (Copper Canyon) of Northern México and all of the stories he shared of the races and runners that made the race possible.

I should also note that I read this book as a runner, as someone who works with and for indigenous people, and as someone who was trying to make sense of her experience in las Barrancas del Cobre back in 2002. I was 20 years old and studying Spanish. My parents and sister and I went on a trip to las Barrancas. At the little modest lodge we stayed, they asked a local Rarámuri man named José to guide us on a hike. He took us (cold weather Alaskan athletes) on an 18 mile hike up and down mountains and through farms and yards and mud shacks and corn fields and mountain trails and past one abandoned cave dwelling in the heat of summer. We were hot and exhausted. He was not in the least bit phased. He was wearing cowboy boots and jeans, which, I didn't realize until I read Born to Run, I guess made him quite the assimilated Rarámuri man. I kept returning to those memories as I read this book, trying to piece together my brief experience with what McDougall describes, and with the reality of what narcotraficantes have done to the Barrancas since then. I didn't come out with clear answers, but McDougall's description of the history of the Rarámuri/Tarahumara people and of las Barrancas, and the ways he told his own stories of traveling there and of the race there, did help me make sense of it.

In addition to worrying about the narcos and the Tarahuma, there is one thing that is left unsettled for me: I am worried about Jenn, "la brujita," the young party girl utramarathoner from Virginia Beach. I am worried about her drinking and the danger she is in. I came to like her and worry about her, and wonder if McDougall worried too but didn't write it in the book, or didn't notice how unhealthy she was. Will have to research that one on my own.
Profile Image for George K..
2,432 reviews318 followers
May 17, 2017
Τα τελευταία έξι χρόνια (ουσιαστικά από τότε που τελείωσα το Λύκειο δηλαδή) τρέχω σε σταθερή βάση, τουλάχιστον τέσσερις φορές την εβδομάδα. Και όταν λέω τρέχω, δεν εννοώ το χαλαρό τζόκινγκ, αλλά κανονικό τρέξιμο, δεκάδες χιλιόμετρα τη εβδομάδα, με σχετικά καλές ταχύτητες. Βέβαια δεν έχω τρέξει σε μαραθώνιο ακόμα και η μεγαλύτερη απόσταση που έχω διανύσει σε μια μέρα τρέχον��ας είναι κάπου στα δεκαπέντε χιλιόμετρα, αν θυμάμαι καλά. Λοιπόν, το τρομερό βιβλίο του ΜακΝτούγκαλ με έκανε να πάρω αμέσως τα ταλαιπωρημένα μου παπούτσια και να πάω να τρέξω είκοσι χιλιόμετρα, έτσι, για αλλαγή. Εντάξει, δεν το έκανα ακόμα, αλλά το έχω σκοπό μέσα στις επόμενες μέρες.

Είναι ένα φοβερό βιβλίο που μπορεί να παρακινήσει πολλούς ανθρώπους να αλλάξουν τρόπο και στάση ζωής, να αφήσουν πίσω την μαλθακότητα και την ανία, ν'αρχίσουν να τρέχουν σαν τρελοί σε γήπεδα, δρόμους, χωράφια και βουνά. Ο άνθρωπος γεννήθηκε για να κινείται με τα ποδαράκια του και εξελίχθηκε έτσι ώστε να μπορεί να τρέχει μεγάλες αποστάσεις. Δεν έχει σημασία πόσο γρήγοροι είμαστε, αρκεί να τρέχουμε. Με το τρέξιμο αθλούμαστε, κάνουμε ωραίο σώμα, αποκτούμε αντοχές, ηρεμούμε ψυχικά.

Φυσικά εδώ το βιβλίο έχει να κάνει με κάτι τρελαμένους τύπους που τρέχουν δεκάδες χιλιόμετρα καθημερινά, που συμμετέχουν σε τρελούς αγώνες μεγάλων αποστάσεων σε ανώμαλες επιφάνειες (βουνά, φαράγγια κ.λ.π.), με το τρέξιμο να δίνει ένα νόημα στην ζωή τους και να είναι ένα από τα σημαντικότερα πράγματα γι'αυτούς. Ο ΜακΝτούγκαλ μας παίρνει από το χεράκι και μας ταξιδεύει στα απομονωμένα και απομακρυσμένα φαράγγια του Μεξικού και μας αποκαλύπτει μια φυλή Ινδιάνων, τους Ταραουμάρα, τα μέλη της οποίας έχουν το τρέξιμο στο καθημερινό τους πρόγραμμα. Είναι οι απόλυτοι δρομείς. Έχουν καλή υγεία, ζουν μια απλή ζωή μακριά απ�� τα άγχη της δικής μας καθημερινότητας.

Όμως, το ταξίδι δεν αναλώνεται μόνο στο να γνωρίσουμε τους Ταραουμάρα και να μάθουμε τα μυστικά τους, μιας και γνωρίζουμε και άλλους δρομείς και απλούς ανθρώπους που παράτησαν τις δουλειές τους και άρχισαν να ζουν για το τρέξιμο και τους αγώνες αντοχής, θέλοντας να φτάσουν το σώμα τους στα όρια. Επίσης κάνουμε και μια βόλτα από επιστημονικά εργαστήρια, μαθαίνουμε περισσότερα πράγματα για το τρέξιμο αλλά και το ίδιο μας το σώμα, μας δίνεται η δυνατότητα να καταλάβουμε γιατί το τρέξιμο είναι μέσα στο DNA μας. Στο τέλος, παρακολουθούμε με κομμένη την ανάσα τον απόλυτο αγώνα αντοχής στα φαράγγια του Μεξικού, με διάφορους τρελαμένους δρομείς να συναγωνίζονται τους χαλαρούς Ταραουμάρα.

Πρόκειται για ένα εξαιρετικά καλογραμμένο, ευκολοδιάβαστο και εθιστικό βιβλίο, που μπορεί να το διαβάσει κανείς μονορούφι από την αρχή μέχρι το τέλος, σαν να ήταν κάποιο θρίλερ του Στίβεν Κινγκ. Δεν είναι μόνο το θέμα του ενδιαφέρον, δεν είναι μόνο αυτά που μαθαίνει κανείς από τις περιγραφές του συγγραφέα, είναι και η απίθανη γραφή, η όλη γλαφυρή αφήγηση, που συνδυάζει την περιπέτεια, την επιστήμη του τρεξίματος και το χιούμορ. Κάλλιστα μπορεί να πει κανείς ότι είναι η βίβλος του τρεξίματος, το απόλυτο βιβλίο για να κάνει κάποιον να πάει να αγοράσει αθλητικά παπούτσια και ν'αρχίσει να τρέχει. Διαβάστε το βιβλίο και θα με θυμηθείτε!
Profile Image for Ryan Holiday.
Author 99 books13.8k followers
June 22, 2012
I have a bad habit where I put off reading a book if I hear it recommended too many times. It stems from being underwhelmed by the flavor of the week long read (normally The New Yorker) or whatever blogs seem to be passing around and splooging all over. In the case of Born to Run, I made a mistake and I wish I'd read it sooner. No question it had plenty of the cringe-worthy moments I was reticent about, but it's worth reading anyway. Like The Tiger by John Valliant, there is a shocking amount of applicable and interesting evolutionary science in here, and from what I know it's all pretty legit.

For a non-fiction book about running, it's very readable and interesting enough to keep you going even if you are not a runner. This is also its weakness; you can tell the writer's background as a magazine writer resigns him to a sort of pull-quote mentality and all the other obnoxious tricks that magazines employ. The idea that we evolved to run long distance (as opposed to only sprinting when fleeing predators) is something that I don't think has been properly accounted for in paleo-communities. Persistance hunting, for example, is something he discusses well in this book. That Taleb and others advocate only walking and never distance running has not sat well with me-they've never felt the accomplishment of slowly seeing your endurance grow; the rhythm your feet, lungs, music and heartbeat fall into on a long run; the commitment it takes to hit a goal day in and day out. This book is about those things and how deeply rooted they are in us. And how, ironically, the industry that surrounds running has done its best to destroy and undermine those feelings.
191 reviews
March 25, 2010
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 XYZ, but then later here they are eating ABC, too. Running shoes wreck your feet/body, but even some of the extremist runners do fine with them.

It is interesting to consider what will happen with running shoes in the future. I'm not ready to chuck my Asics--even recently I've noticed that when I walk around for several miles in flip-flops, my left heel absolutely kills. I throw on my Asics and voila! Pain gone, comfort back. I'm more of a mainstreamer and less of an innovator, so I'm not ready to run like Barefoot Ted.
Profile Image for Andy Miller.
843 reviews57 followers
November 26, 2012
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 Tahahumara came north to run the Ledville 100. I won't tell who won, I was in more suspense in reading that chapter than I have been watching any game on tv.

But the author also talks about running in general. Thoughts like allowing long distance runners to go pro was the worst thing for American runners, it caused American marathon times to get much slower due to sponsor concerns about shoes, mileage, coaching etc..on Bill Bowerman and whether he was disillusioned at the end of the life with changes he wrought with Nike, coaching tips, the effect of expensive running shoes(the stanford cross country coach won't allow his runners to wear expensive shoes--and there's studies that back him up

But it is the author's trip to Copper Canyon that is the highlight. And the last chapters that describe the American elite ultra runners going down to Copper Canyon for a race against the Tahumura on their own turf--with no media coverage, no real prize money, no ego, well, it was great. Absolutely great.

Profile Image for Thomas Stroemquist.
1,520 reviews127 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
December 1, 2015
DNF at about 10 %

I'm actually happy to finally giving in to the nagging and trying this book. Because, really, who does not enjoy being able to honestly say "told you so" once in a while?

McDougall is a snake oil salesman, with all the expressions and vocabulary of his trade. I did endure a minute or so of one of his "lectures" on YouTube and boy did his writing fall right into place!

Uninformed, argumentative and unscientific bull about the simple task if running. My fear is that he hurt people who could have been happily jogging along now, my hope is that he inspired someone who since have figured it out...

This seems to be the kind of book to either get a "1" or a "5". I know lots of people ignore the "hated it" ones and therefore it is most likely that my review is going to be buried in the small pool of critics of this one. I could really not give another opinion, though; first, I lasted about 25 pages and second, they were crap.

Profile Image for Rosie.
341 reviews38 followers
September 1, 2021
NÃO! Não gosto de correr. Não obstante, sou apologista e absoluta defensora de exercício físico; faço fitness e yoga praticamente todos os dias e adoro caminhadas na natureza, o que procuro fazer sempre que possível.

O mote foi somente o passa-a-palavra e o acto que precede aquela premissa de “TENS DE LER”! Cá em casa, somos todos leitores, então, como devem calcular todos desejamos partilhar os livros que amamos, que achamos que irão proporcionar igual prazer, ou incrementar auto-estima, ou conhecimento, ou lema para a vida, etc.

Na verdade o livro é muito mais do que corridas.

"Abandonada no seu misterioso esconderijo nas ravinas, esta pequena tribo de eremitas tinha resolvido quase todos os problemas do Homem. Em qualquer categoria – mente, espírito ou corpo – os Tarahumaras aproximavam-se da perfeição. Era como se tivessem secretamente transformado as suas cavernas em incubadoras de prémios Nobel, todos a trabalhar para acabar com o ódio, as doenças cardíacas, as dores nas canelas e os gases de estufa.
Na Terra dos Tarahumara, não havia crime, guerra nem assaltos. Não havia corrupção, obesidade, toxicodependência, ganância, violência doméstica, pedofilia, tensão arterial alta ou emissões de carbono. Não tinham diabetes, depressões, nem sequer velhice: homens de 50 anos conseguiam correr mais que adolescentes, e bisavôs de 80 anos subiam distâncias de maratona nas montanhas. Os geniais Tarahumaras tinham até chegado à economia, criando um sistema financeiro único baseado no álcool e em actos arbitrários de gentileza: em vez de dinheiro, a sua moeda de troca consistia em favores e grandes baldes de cerveja de milho.
(…) E como se não bastasse ser o povo mais amável e feliz do planeta, o Tarahumara era também mais resistente: comparável à sua serenidade sobre-humana, só mesmo a sua tolerância sobre-humana à dor…"
Pág. 22

Já parece que estamos a assistir ao nosso querido Indiana Jones na busca do lendário Santo Graal com o elixir da felicidade plena e jovialidade permanente.

"Tinha de traçar o percurso inverso, desde o que nós nos tornámos até ao que os Tarahumaras sempre foram, e perceber onde nos tínhamos perdido. Cada filme de acção mostra o fim da civilização como uma espécie de explosão espaventosa, uma guerra nuclear ou um cometa em rota de colisão ou uma revolta de ciborgues autoconscientes, mas o verdadeiro cataclisma podia já estar a decorrer à frente dos nossos olhos: devido à avassaladora obesidade (…). Talvez os antigos hindus fossem melhor futurólogos do que Hollywood quando previram que o mundo acabaria, não numa explosão, mas num grande bocejo. Shiva, o Destruidor ia liquidar-nos com… nada. Com preguiça. Retirando o seu vigor de sangue quente dos nossos corpos. Deixando que nos tornássemos lesmas." Pág 127

Partam à aventura como eu pelas mãos deste jornalista que escreve de forma fluida e descubram algumas curiosidades. Confesso que nem tudo me interessou sobremaneira, mas houve muitas reflexões pertinentes tal como por exemplo, os lobbies sobre as sapatilhas Nike (entre TANTOS outros que existem por este mundo fora). Assim como olhar para um passado muito distante e repensar novas filosofias de vida.

"Jack Kirk – também conhecido como o Demónio de Dipsea – ainda corria a infernal corrida de corta-mato da Dipsea aos 96 anos.
Não se deixa de correr por envelhecer – disse o Demónio. – Envelhece-se por se deixar de correr."
Pág. 262
Profile Image for Helio.
451 reviews67 followers
January 9, 2023
This was a highly enjoyable read, with it's suspense filled accounts of 100 mile races and the characters that ran them for fun.  I tried to figure out if it was fiction or non-fiction and settled on fictionalized.  For instance the bit on Emil Zapotek the Czech runner who won gold in the 5,000 metre and 10,000 metre 1952 Olympics, also ran the Marathon for something to do and won that too.  McDougall said that when the Soviets invaded his country they offered him a chance to support their side, which he declined and thus ended up cleaning toilettes in Siberia and was never heard from again.  Wikipedia has a different take >


He didn't exactly disappear but metaphorically i suppose it was accurate that he no longer raced.

From my Anthropology courses i knew the Tarahumara were an indigenous people of northern Mexico but i had to check if they were the runners the author made them out to be > https://ultra-x.co/tarahumara-maratho...  And they were.

Chapter 28 was Gold for me on the diffrences between humans, who can run, and (DNA similar) chimps, that cannot.  We are the only species that sweats away heat and can take more than one breath during a stride, thus the basis for an evolutionary advantage.  McDougall even offered an explanation why stronger smarter Neanderthal faded away with the ice ages.

When it came to finding a real example of a people that could outrun wildlife i was fairly screaming > consider the Kalahari San, watch Paul van der Merwe's "People of the White Stone", part of the BBC's Vanishing Tribes series.  The author came across a worthy alternative, claiming there were only six true Bushman alive, in remote Namibia, to track that way.  Perhaps if he'd gone to !Xade, in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve he could have found more.

A movie is in the works; it will be sad that so much will have to be left out.

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