Friday, February 11, 2011

Run-like you've never run before

By Tiffany Young

If you haven't heard of "Born to Run," well, I'm shocked. This nonfiction book is one of the best I've read. A writer for several running and health magazines, Christopher McDougall, finds, after the age of 40, he can no longer run pain free.
He sees his doctor only to find he needs a lot of orthotics he'd rather not deal with. He's heard of an Indian tribe in Mexico, the Tarahumara (tara-oo-mara), who not only run fast through the jungle, but do it at all ages. How, he wonders, do they not get hurt?

McDougall travels to find out and ends up finding Caballo—the Horse—a white, older guy who has become friends with the Indians and lives in a hut in a town as close to civilization as is near the Tarahumara. This mysterious man tells McDougall all he needs to know about the Indians and running without letting him know anything about himself—who he really is, where he's from and how he came to live outside a jungle in Mexico.

Caballo tells McDougall about a race he is attempting in Mexico—bring some of the best runners in the world to run against the Tarahumara and see who wins. But the race is unlikely to ever happen. The Indians live in a jungle in Mexico, where Americans would have to pass drug cartels and then traipse up and down and along cliffs to get to the race. Who is going to do that? Turns out there were a few who would end up volunteering just to see the fastest people on earth race on their own turf.

I won't tell too much, except that this is a book that shouldn't be missed, even if, like me, you're not a runner. The book isn't so much about running—although you'll learn about that along the way—as the relationships that ensues from those who truly love running. Along the way you may pick up a tip or two about how to run better: Is barefoot running really better?, Why did people evolve to run on two feet, when it seems so slow?, What makes a runner fast?

Be warned—it's inspiring and may make even the least likely of runners want to give running a chance. But perhaps that's your destiny: Were you born to run?

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