Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Born To Run

Tramps like us, baby we were bo-orn to run. Whoa-o-o-oh. Wah-o-o-o-oh-o.

Sorry. Bruce Springsteen flashback. First thing I think of when I hear the words "born to run." Appropriately, the author paid homage to The Boss with an excerpt from the song in one of the chapter headings. (I don't think that's the right thing to call those quotes at the beginning of each chapter. Epigraph doesn't seem right, either. Anyone know?)

Okay. So the book with the really long subtitle. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall. Usually things with titles this long are published in scholarly journals. Anyway, I never would have picked up this book if it hadn't been the pick for April. (Although I just found out that May is National Runner's Month. Should've waited. Oh well.) I probably would have never even seen it, since I loiter in the fiction section of the library. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to read. Not exciting enough to keep me awake late at night (though in all fairness I don't think I have ever found a nonfiction book with that ability) but interesting enough that it wasn't hard to pick up again. I wanted to know what happened next. I did wonder how it could be so long, though. A hundred pages in I was wondering what was left to tell. The author digresses a lot and throws in some of the backstories for his odd ensemble of characters.

Ultradistance running. Distance running. Running. Not really my thing. My body likes the endorphin rush from running, but I'd rather get it by exercising in some other way. And since I'm not willing to go running with kids in tow, nor am I motivated enough to do it in the early morning or late evening hours in order to go by myself - I'd rather be sleeping or reading - I don't do it at all unless I'm playing chase, tag, soccer, etc., with the aforementioned kids. So I don't know how I came to be surrounded by runners. My chiropractor brother likes running. His wife runs half-marathons and is training for full ones. One brother-in-law does triathlons. Another sister-in-law just ran a 200-mile race with a team of several other people. I have several friends who love to run. I don't know how they do it. Running until I puke does not sound like fun to me. But McDougall makes a good case for giving it a shot. I almost believe that running could be a hidden superpower that I possess. Almost.

This post should probably go on my personal blog. It's not much of a book review. But the book is good. Almost like a collection of articles that were combined to make a book. Interesting tidbits about the science of running, shoe companies being the bad guys, diet, and the people who are passionate about ultradistance running. The thing that would have made the book better for me is a section of photographs of these crazy characters. They are so out there that they seem fictional. But I Googled a couple of the names and they are real people. And here's a photograph of Scott Jurek and one of the Tarahumara runners (maybe Arnulfo? There was mention of a photograph like this one in the book). If you're a runner, you should definitely read Born to Run. If you're thinking about becoming a runner, don't waste your money on an expensive pair of shoes.