Sunday, February 17, 2013

book review: "born to run" by christopher mcdougall

yes, i realize i am incredibly late to the game on reading this book. i don't have a good excuse. i asked for it for christmas in 2011, and it was gifted to me. i tried to read it, struggled through the first 20 pages, and quit. the slow start and overly scientific and historic paragraph upon paragraph just turned me off. when i told fellow runner friends that i couldn't get into the book, they looked at me in shock, "what? it's the best book ever! i hung on every word!" "i was so inspired after reading this book, how could you not get into it??"

yup. it would seem i was the one missing the mark, not the book.

fast forward to february 2013. i join the #healthyself challenge. one of the challenges is to start reading a new book. the first thought that pops into my mind was to tackle this book again. and so, i gave it another shot. within a week, (roughly three days of reading) i finished the book slightly teary eyed and wanting to go out and run mile after mile after mile after happy mile. 

the start still wasn't perfect for me - i was still bored and forced myself to get through the pages in the beginning. but once i got to the parts about the leadville race, i was hooked. i wanted to read more. i wanted to learn more. i wanted to know every secret to being a better, faster runner. while i didn't learn too many secrets per say, there were a few things i took from the book:

1) new foods to try, like pinole. this book inspired me to buy chia seeds from costco and try some of the "super foods" mentioned in the book. i haven't made pinole yet, but i've been adding chia seeds to my pre-workout drink to see if i feel more energized during workouts. the verdict is still out, but i'm curious about using these as a more natural way to fuel my body.

2) learning about the world of ultras. honestly, the word "ultra" never crossed my universe when i thought about running. i knew runners raced trails, but my running world is 5ks, 1/2 marathons and someday a full marathon. running outside my scope of those events just didn't trigger in my mind. i enjoyed reading about ultras and ultra runners, and holy crap do i have a newfound respect for those athletes! 

3) considering barefoot running, then realizing its a bad idea. i think this book almost puts too much emphasis on barefoot running, even if done unintentionally. but, it was compelling enough for me to consider barefoot running as an option for me and my running ailments. after speaking to my trainer, however, that flame quickly got snuffed out and i realized i got swept up in the hype and over promises of minimalist running. it's not a good solution for someone like me, who over pronates and has been running in shoes since i was a wee toddler. so, the few thoughts i had about buying vibrams and running barefoot went out the door as fast as they came in. 

4) running happy and running for happy, makes a successful runner. don't get me wrong, there's an element of training and competitiveness that makes a successful runner too, but all the examples (and the theme of the book) was that once you forget about the joy of running, you lose your ability to run at your very best. when happiness returns to your run, you are free and you can hit the trails or roads for as long as you want without feeling like you're working for it. i was so inspired by this idea that i went out for an afternoon "happy" run. i didn't want to focus on anything else but enjoying the fact that i could be out and run in that very moment. it was a tough change of mentality, but it sure felt great.

now that i've read through the book, i'd recommend it to any runner. it just took me awhile to get to that point. the stories of runners peppered through the book will amaze and inspire you, and by the end, you'll be wanting to go out and hug/high five every runner you see on your next route (maybe i'm the only one who feels this way, who knows)!

have you read "born to run"? did you like it, love it, hate it? share your thoughts!

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