I have to admit it, I don’t LOVE running. It is hard. And unlike biking, where you can coast and soar downhill, it is always hard. Unless you walk – but then, that isn’t running. But despite my sometimes negative relationship with running, there have been a few moment where I have loved running. The problem is, I had to suffer through weeks of hatred to get to that point. Weeks where I forced myself to get out the door and run the 4-5 miles, every step a challenge. But slowly, my body got used to the act of running and eventually, I found myself enjoying it. And I could time, I even thought, “hey, this is awesome.” Unfortunately, I am not quite at that place right now. And considering I am overseeing the Robin Hood Marathon Team, that isn’t a good thing!
During the honeymoon, Matt read the book “Born To Run.” I picked a much more advanced book… “Mini Shopaholic.” After finishing our respective books, Matt couldn’t stop talking about how good his book was, while I was slightly embarrassed to even tell him the title of mine. I decided that I needed a little more substance in my life (I don’t want to be the weak link in our marriage), so I decided that I would read Born to Run as well. And who knows, maybe I would learn how to enjoy running again.
The book is written by Christopher McDougall, a journalist for Men’s Health magazine and casual runner. The question “Why does my foot hurt?” leads McDougall on a journey into Mexico’s Copper Canyon. In his quest for answers, McDougall discovers the Tarahumara Indians, who are quite possibly the and greatest distance runners on the planet. Their real name “Raramuri” translates into “The Running People”.
The Tarahumara are literally born to run and from an early age Taramuhara children play running games which continue well into their old age. It is not uncommon for 80-year-old Tarahumara to run literally all day long through rough, mountainous terrain on little more than Pinole (a corn mixture used as a type of superfuel – There are no gels in the Copper Canyon!) Not only are the Tarahumara excellent runners, they are also known for incredible health, long lives, serenity, and their peaceful nature.
Born to run tackles many issues, including why are so many runners injured every year (some data suggests as many as 80% of runners get injured every year), does running make a great man or woman or does a great man or woman make a great runner, and ultimately – aren’t we all “Born to Run” by our very nature, history and bio-mechanical makeup?
The book details facinating stories that include many of today’s well-known names in ultra running such as Scott Jurek, Ann Trason (there is a great account of the history 1994 Leadville 100 showdown between Ann and the Tarahumara), Barefoot Ted, Jenn Shelton and Luis Escobar, among others. All these runners (aside from Ann) are involved in the final climatic story of this book which centers around the first ultra-distance race in Mexico’s Copper Canyon.
In the end, the book was both educational and motivational. Mid-way through the honeymoon, Matt took me on a 3 mile trail run that wound along the cliffs lining the ocean in Kauai. And while I have a very long way to go before I am able to participate in an ultra marathon, it was inspirational. Not only was I inspired to run; I am now on a search for Pinole (the magical corn superfuel that keeps the Tarahumara going!)
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who runs, even casually. And even if you aren’t a runner, it is a very interesting story, filled with unique characters.
Below is a rather long video that tells the story of the Tarahumara that was shown on the Discovery Channel. I got to say, I LOVE the dramatic narration!