I’m in the market of writing about running and so long as I steer clear of treadmills I can usually knock up a paragraph or so on the trials and tribulations of the activity but I was awed by Chris McDougalls skill at telling such a gripping yarn. I was arriving at work late and extending lunch breaks just to find out the outcome of the trail races he was describing. These races were between 50 and 100 miles long and I never expected they could be quite so tense.
The author was on the trail of the Tarahumara Indians an ancient and very private running tribe and gave some fascinating insights into their way of life and running style. Chris had his own personal interest beyond the obvious sporting intrigue, relating to his ongoing foot problems and his desire to find a practical solution that would keep him running. He refused to accept the prevailing view that running was inherently bad for humans and sought to find evidence to the contrary. Interspersed between the race commentary are some extremely interesting discussions on the potential conspiracies within the running shoe industry, he quotes one study which suggests that running injuries increase in proportion to the amount spent on your shoes which makes me look at my Asics Kayanos in a different light.
A number of barefoot running aficionados appear in the book including the Tarahumara Indians and Barefoot Ted and the almost evangelical tone has made this book a bible to the barefoot movement. The book made it onto my reading list quite accidentally and I was surprised to find myself reading it just as I’m deciding that barefoot or minimal shoe running might offer some solutions to my plantar fasciatiis pains and knee wobbles.
Reading the book I was tempted to fold over corners and make notes in the margin – there was so much I wanted to follow up on. I’m afraid I’m too anal for that sort of book-defacery so you’ll have to read it and find your own excitement. It is currently available at Amazon from £4.48: Born to Run: The Hidden Tribe, the Ultra-Runners, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen.