Born To Run

A hidden tribe, superathletes, and the greatest race the world has never seen

Author(s): Chris McDougall

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We were born to run; we were born because we run.

Born To Run tells a story of discovery of not only the best runners, but some of the best athletes in the world from deep in the Copper Canyon of Mexico. Individuals from an indigenous group, namely the Rarámuri or Tarahumara, were taken and their running skills were challenged in some of the most difficult races in the United States, where they consistently performed better than the top runners.

In these races — some through tough terrain — the techniques and style of these runners were analyzed by many in an attempt to understand why the Tarahumara were such great athletes. One of the first things that was noticed was that they wore sandals made from tire rubber and leather strings. The more important part of these runners’ style that was noticed during the most challenging part of these races was their smile and excitement to continue when many “normal” runners were struggling and focusing on getting one foot in front of the other. This child-like excitement is what this book focuses on and how we have (de/e)volved in relatively few years from what we were born to do, which is to run — not with thick, cushioned running shoes — to people who view running as only a means to getting fit.

[The Tarahumara had] never forgotten what it felt like to love running.

Humans have an extraordinary natural ability to run long distances. Our bodies were designed in such a way that we can effectively cool down and breathe while running, when many other mammals can’t. Many mammals have other strengths — such as a rabbit’s speed or a cheetah’s acceleration — but suffer in terms of endurance, unlike humans. Yet many people dislike running now because they view it as a “means to an end — an investment in becoming faster, skinnier, richer”. This conflict of interest between the mind and body stems from our brain’s focus on efficiency.

Unlike any other organism in history, humans have a mind-body conflict: we have a body built for performanc, but a brain that’s always looking for efficiency… the brain is a bargain shopper.

Also, often people expect something in return from running and think that running faster will help achieve that thing sooner. This leads to people pushing themselves too hard which leads to burnout and injuries.

Only go as fast as you can while holding a conversation.

Also, we often look for ways to make running easier or more comfortable in the short-term. We buy fancy running shoes that haven’t actually been proven to reduce injuries in the long-term. We were quite literally born to run. We have everything that we need to be great runners from birth. We don’t need and shouldn’t “box” our feet up in shoes. Running barefoot is a self-correcting system due to the number of nerve endings in our feet. When we encounter pain, we naturally fix it. But when we continue to block those triggers, we continue to run with poor form, leading to long-term injuries. I recently started running in minimal sandals. I will be the first to admit that it isn’t immediately comfortable. Actually, those first few runs, you will end the run feeling the soreness more than if you had run in shoes.

Shoes block pain, not impact! Pain teaches us to run comfortably! From the moment you start going barefoot, you will change the way you run.