It's taken me a couple of weeks, but I finally finished the book, Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. It was seriously entertaining, not at all what I had envisioned about a running book. The reason it took me so long to read? Well, I like to sleep pretty much more than I like anything else, and I would drift off each night after a few pages. I once fell asleep during The Passion of the Christ in a movie theater...so don't confuse my slumber with boredom.
Moving on. Or should I say running on?
There have been many people in my life, upon hearing that I like to run, remark that they "only run when being chased". There have also been others who try to convince me that running is bad for me "your poor joints!" or claim that they just weren't built to run "shin splints! hip pain! too slow!" and it never sat well with me. To me, it always seemed like moving our bodies was a natural thing. I can understand not liking running, I can understand not running if you have a physical problem with it, but I just can't understand when people thought it was crazy to run.
Well...this book proved me right. And wrong.
In a nutshell, we are born to run, we've just been going about it in the wrong way.
Out of a nutshell, it's a long story filled with tales of ancient tribes, ultramarathoners, the invention of the running shoe, the exciting properties of the chia seed, and the joy of running. The main points that stood out to me are as follows:
~ Chia seeds are really good for you - they provide energy, healthy fats, fiber and protein. I started adding them to my morning smoothie the very next day.
~ Running is a sport, and if you are trying to take it seriously (i.e. improve race times, run longer distances, prevent injuries) then you should get some advice from a running coach. Think about it, every other sport has a coach, right? You don't just expect kids to swim or play lacrosse without being coached first. Personally, I'm not trying to win any races, I run to eat and for mental happiness, so I don't think I will ever need a coach, but the idea of having someone watch my form and give me tips on how to run is so exciting to me. The author also provide interesting evolutionary facts to show that humans are in fact, born to run.
~ Running shoes have ruined our feet and are causing so many injuries. The tribes in Mexico that the author studied, the kids in Kenya who run 17,000 miles before age 18, and even the Stanford track team, all run barefoot at times. Sneakers confine your foot from being able to move and then it can't react as it was designed to do, and that's why so many injuries happen. All the money in the world can't produce a shoe that will turn you into a perfect runner. It's all about your form. Sneakers should just act as a protection for your feet, and since there's no way I'm running barefoot around here, I went out and got these Nike Frees to try. I'll let you know how they hold up.
~ Most of the ultramarathoners mentioned in the book were people who just loved to run. They started out their careers by running as long and as often as they wanted without worrying about time or distance. When they realized they were running pretty long distances, they started signing up for races. And they were really good at it. It's just a very different, laid-back approach to running, and I've tried to incorporate it by just going out for a run and letting my body decided how long it will last.
~ The smiles. This was a prevalent message throughout the book. The runners from the tribes in Mexico all had a visible joy while running. They would smile and even laugh as they ran along. Remember when you were a kid (or just look at your kids now) and you ran everywhere? It was just the most fun mode of transportation. It seems like some people never lose that joy for the run. I know I always feel so great after a run - the accomplishment of it, the way my body feels more confident, they high in my brain...I just love life! I can so easily tap into this mindset while on a run. I thank God for the ability to move my body He's given me, I thank Him for the beautiful Earth we live in, I thank Him for all the blessings in my life and try to work out any problems I have. To me, running is a form of prayer, it's mind-clearing, re-focusing, and recharging. And I'm not even that good at it! I can't imagine the way these long distance runners feel!
So if you're legs are itching to start moving, I highly recommend reading Born to Run. It renewed my love for running longer distances, made me more aware of my form, clean up my diet a bit, and had me feeling like I was part of something greater than myself.