Born to Run

Wed, 11/21/2012 - 08:50 -- John Locke

Remember how as a kid you would break out into a run, just because you felt like it? My daughter is nearly two years old, and she runs more than she walks these days. Perhaps there's more to the joy of running than we ever expected.

I recently read the book "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall. Besides being one of the best arguments for barefoot running out there, it's a great, if somewhat meandering, read. Deeper than just a fun read, however, it has a few hidden lessons in it:

  • Our brain was developed over millennia to conserve energy so that we could run long distances at a moment's notice, and that has led us into sloth and obesity when we never need to run. Suggests we need to consciously fight that and go for a run now and then.

  • Asking "Why" may lead you to unexpected places — the question "why did weak, slow humans survive if evolution is governed by natural selection?" led a few students to investigating our physiology and finding our amazing capacity for long distance running, based on our unique ability to breathe at rates different than 1 breath per stride.

  • Just because a lot of people believe in something, doesn't make it true. The example being the entire running shoe industry, constructing a physiology of running to solve "alignment problems" that don't actually exist, leading to huge rise in running injuries. Theories are fine, but you should look for evidence to support them, and it sounds like those who have conducted studies on the matter have found running shoes harmful. What other institutions are built upon flawed thinking? In this sense, the book has a very similar theme to Moneyball.

  • Joy is an often-overlooked component necessary to perform at the highest level. If you're competing without joy, maybe you should just go home.

I'm surprised by how many people I've talked with have already read this book. If you haven't, go read it now -- it will totally change the way you think about running.

And I'm loving the minimalist running shoes I picked up as a result.

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Submitted by Aaron (not verified) on

"And I'm loving the minimalist running shoes I picked up as a result."

Pics or they don't exist!


Excellent post here! Yes, based on evolution our bodies are designed to run very long distances, and we have better endurance overall than any other mammal that lives on land!

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