Born to Run – Chris McDougall (2009)

Tonight I went to see author Chris McDougal talk about his new book, Born To Run, not the story of Bruce Springsteen, but a wild tale involving his researches into the incredible endurance feats of a particular tribe in Mexico.  He’s a good story-teller, and adds in a variety of information about theories of evolution of humans as ‘tribe runners’ that hunted animals by running them down, as well as a healthy dose of skepticism about the benefits of modern running shoes.  He believes that we’ve been done a disservice by those who say that there’s no ‘correct’ running style; we don’t say that about swimming or most any other atheletic endeavor, so why would it be true of running?  A look at runners of the past seems to indicate a stride that lands on mid-foot, and leans forward a little, to get the help of gravity to pull you forward.

I personally made it out for a five mile run mid-day, getting up into the Forest Park trails.  I find it very exhilarating to run on narrow trails, winding up and down, in and out along the ridge!

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  • oakhill193  On May 27, 2009 at 7:11 am

    I think I recall a similar story about this book or perhaps it was just about this tribe. It was on NPR so you could probably find it in the archives. What struck me as well was the debate on how running shoes may actually harm the way we run today. I believe it was this Indian tribe in Mexico that fashioned their own shoes out of shreds of rubber tires and made them into huraches that essentially forced one to run on the balls of their feet and their toes splay out for absorbtion. None of this mega gel crap in the heel that causes us to be lazy about the way we land. Nike and now a few other shoes have come out with designs that promote the forefoot. I tried the Nike shoe (Nike Free?) but did not find it comfortable. I actually got a lot of blisters instead, but I think it’s just because Nike makes crap shoes. Now, when Asics comes out with something then we can talk.

  • Curt  On May 27, 2009 at 8:35 am

    The author was wearing, and was a proponent of, the Vibram Five Fingers “shoe” which looks a little creepy but seems like it would be interesting to try. See:

    He was also talking about how most of the Ethiopean and Kenyan runners did all their early running barefoot, so they developed a forefoot style. And apparently there are a whole contingent of barefoot runners these days (like Abebe Bikele in Rome Olympics marathon) – while you’d think their feet would be thick with calluses, he said that’s not the case.

    It does seem that the modern shoe provides so much support that in fact certain muscles in the foot can get weak, plus it allows for the hard heel strike. Due to the flattened surface on the bottom it can force the ankle to twist one way or the other.

    In the old days I used to really strike the heel hard and wear out shoes that way, but these days I don’t hit the heel nearly so much.

  • Jim  On May 27, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Why do I think of Daffy Duck when I look at vibramfivefingers? Just kidding, but they do look a little creepy!

  • oakhill193  On May 27, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    Holy crap, those things are weird. If I wore them I could only do night runs, but then I would probably trip and rip apart the TOP of my foot.

  • johnk5555  On May 27, 2009 at 8:41 pm


    Been trying to get a hold of you through e-mail but they are all coming back. E-mail@ so I can send pictures of Jack! Forward your mom and dads e-mailalso!

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