Book: "Born to run", Christopher McDougall

I read the famous book, "Born to run". Lots of information, lots of interesting things, but, in my opinion, a book not so easy to read and to apprehend.

I only heard about this book while reading "Eat&Run", from Scott Jurek. Actually, I never got into reading running related books before. I guess that's why I never heard about "Born to run" sooner. Scott Jurek is one of the "character" of the book, so his story corroborates the story told in the book. I loved "Eat&Run". I carried on in my momentum and started reading "Born to run" while training for the marathon. I had to borrow it twice from the library to manage to finish reading it. I can't say I didn't like it, but I have mixed feelings. I learnt lots of interesting, surprising, intriguing things. It raises questions. But, for me, this book is not easy to follow.

What's the subject?

The full title is:"Born To Run - A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen". See, just with the title, you can tell it will speak about lots of (too many?) things.

The story is centered around an ultra race which took place in 2006 and gathered famous ultrarunners (including Scott Jurek) and Tarahumaras people. The Tarahumaras are a tribe of native Americans from Mexico. They are well-known for their long-distance running ability. The race was small and confidential. The only goal was to put together the modern world of ultrarunning and the ancestral one.

The author took part into the race and tells the story around it. Actually, he is not only telling about the race. He is telling about his story with running. Often injured, never totally recovered, he started questioning the doctors, the way he used to run, the reason why we run, the way we should run, since when humans are running... etc...

the "modern" ultrarunners, before the 2006 race in the Copper Canyons - ©Luis Escobar

Book construction

It was difficult for me to follow the book because there is no structure to it. It's a tale. It starts like that. So, we expect to follow a story. Fiction or not? It's often difficult to say. Even after reading the book, I still wonder if the author embellished some parts or not (I had to look for the actual date of the race on the internet as everything in the book seems timeless). So, yes, there's a tale but interspersed with presentations of people or subjects related to what the author was talking about.

The reader has to follow different tales at the same time. The subjects are diversified: tale of another race, scientific explanations, anthropological researchs. Everything is interesting, but you have to hold on to follow.

My opinion

I wasn't expecting that from this book. I was a little disappointed at first, but, mostly, it threw me off balance. We can read anywhere this book is a best-seller. The reviews are good. I think the best way to enjoy it is to know what to expect beforehand. I can't say I didn't like it. I learnt a lot reading it. It opened my eyes about things such as running shoes, for instance (the book raises questions about the true value of modern running shoes, the business which is at stake, the minimalist running shoes). The Tarahumaras fascinated me. Now, when I run uphill, I always think "easy, light and smooth", as the Tarahumaras.

So, yes, this book is truly interesting. But, no, it's not easy to read. It's not a conventional tale. You'll have to hold on to follow. You will read various running information. There is no clear structure to the book.

The book

- published in 2009
- author: Christopher McDougall
- author website (or book website?): Christopher McDougall website (the website is as structured as the book)
- to find it, on Amazon: Born to Run

To go further

- Tarahumara people
- the race: Ultra Caballo Blanco


Did you already know about this book? Did you read it? Tell me your thoughts about it. If you never read it, do you want to? What did you expect from it? And, generally, what are you waiting for in a running related book?


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Next races

  • NONE

Miles / km

  • 1 mile = 1.6 km / 1 km = 0.6 mile
  • 5K = 3.1 miles
  • 10K = 6.2 miles
  • half marathon = 13.1 miles = 21.1 km
  • marathon = 26.2 miles = 42.2 km