It’s not often I read a book to be honest – although I know the value of reading for improving your vocabulary and general literacy. I read a lot of other stuff though – being an information geek, I love researching online.
However, I did read a book recently to help motivate me. Basically I am a wannabe runner! I want to be able to run (like those fit types do) but when I go out for a run I actually hate every minute of it. Seriously, I have this inner-dialogue in my head constantly saying, “Can I stop now, can I stop now, can I stop now?”
So I decided to read a book about running and how people can do what seems impossible. The number 1 bestselling book:
“Born to Run: The Hidden Tribe, the Ultra-Runners, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen”
… is a true story about how the author wanted to find out about why he found running so hard, why he kept getting injured and if humans are actually meant to run at all! The book includes some science, history, geography and the influence of marketing.
The science and history bit looked at how humans have evolved and provided some evidence that the only way the early humans survived was by endurance running and persistence hunting. Humans are pretty unique in that they can regulate their breathing and cool down without needing to stop, whereas animals can only run for short bursts before they need to cool down by panting. Therefore early humans basically chased their prey for hours, until the animal collapsed from exhaustion!
The geography looked at some specific tribes that still run massive distances virtually bare-footed without any injuries. The Tarahumara are a Native American people of north-western Mexico who are renowned for their long-distance running ability. The author travelled to Mexico to meet with some of the Tarahumara, who have the ability to run up to 200 miles in one session, over 2 days!
More science stuff looked at how modern runners rely on air-cushioned, highly supported running shoes. They found that wearing these shoes changed the natural way humans are supposed to run, with a much larger stride, which increases the risk of injury. One 1991 study found that wearers of expensive running shoes that are promoted as having special features, such as added cushioning or pronation correction, were injured significantly more frequently than runners wearing inexpensive shoes. Companies like Nike have noted the interest in a return to minimalist running and released Nike Free Run, whereas other companies have specialised in pseudo-barefoot running shoes like Vibram FiveFingers.
The book is an adventure, where the author meets loads of crazy runners on his travels, helps organise and run the first 50 mile race through the Copper Canyons of Tarahumara country. The race, Ultra Caballo Blanco, now runs every year in memory of one of the characters of the book, Micah True (aka Caballo Blanco) who sadly died suddenly when on a lone trail run.
I found the book inspirational; but I still hate running 😉