Born to Run is an epic true story of Christopher McDougall’s journey deep into the dangerous Copper Canyon of Chihuahua in Mexico where he finds a mystical tribe of men called the Tarahumara. Also known as the Raramuri – translated as “The Running Men” – the tribe are known for their incredible running endurance. These people have the ability to cover more than 200 miles over two days as they travel from settlement to settlement.
In this captivating story, McDougall meets Caballo Blanco aka Micah True, a man with a mysterious past who lives alongside the Tarahumara. It’s Caballo’s dream to put on an epic race in the Copper Canyon, pitting the world’s greatest ultrarunners against the Tarahumara on their home turf.
It’s an exhilarating and sometimes hilarious read that combines travel writing with sport science.
McDougall’s adventure actually began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt? Statistics show that the runners in the world today are almost certain to injure themselves on an annual basis. Has it always been this way? If not, why not? And how do the Tarahumara manage to run so much without getting injured? Are humans born to run?
Born to Run explains that the human body has anatomical features present in running animals like Achilles tendons, large gluteal muscles, and foot arches.
Along with the Tarahumara, tribes in Africa are known to partake in what’s termed as persistence hunting. They literally chase an animal for hours on end until the animal eventually collapses from heat exhaustion. And they do all this without the use of modern footwear, wearing basic homemade sandals.
McDougall explains that the mass promotion of jogging in the 1970s by Nike and their subsequent sales in cushioned running shoes led runners to adapt their running technique by landing on their bony heel instead of their thick pad of midfoot fat. With scientists arguing that the heel is meant only for standing and not running, it could be that the shock of repetitive heel-striking is the reason for most modern-day running injuries.
A long time ago after multiple running injuries, I decided that running wasn’t fun enough to get injured for. With the current popularity of minimalist/barefoot shoes, it could be worth investing in a pair and giving it another go. Especially if we are in fact born to run.