Posted by: forgingahead | February 26, 2010

Born to Run

I love this book. LOVE. IT. You must read it. Am I being pushy? Yes. Should you listen to me? Definitely.

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall is a gem.

Well written. Exciting story. History of running mixed in with a crackerjack cast of characters. Christopher couldn’t have made up a more interesting bunch of folks.

And it made me want to run. Even more. The cool thing – in a moment of cosmic alignment – is that as I was reading along about this tribe of Tarahumara Indians in the Copper Canyon of Mexico who runs nearly barefoot and super fast I was thinking, “hey, this sounds a little like the Chi Running book I’ve been reading.” And it turns out it is all tied together.

Christopher describes the running style of these ultrarunners as gliding. Going back to how kids run naturally, before gravity and age and shoes start to muck around with nature. That made me think of this photo of my kid brother running on the beach. Kevin is probably about 5 years old here:

I want to run like that.

My girlfriend Nicolle lent me the book and had already ordered her pair of Vibram Five Finger shoes that are the bees knees for running barefoot while still protecting your feet from the evils of the road.

Here’s the pitch on their website – I think it’s pretty succint and well written:

The typical human foot is an anatomical marvel of evolution with 26 bones, 33 joints, 20 muscles, and hundreds of sensory receptors, tendons and ligaments. Like the rest of the body, to keep our feet healthy, they need to be stimulated and exercised.

That’s why we recommend wearing FiveFingers for exercise, play, and for fun. Stimulating the muscles in your feet and lower legs will not only make you stronger and healthier, it improves your balance, agility and proprioception.

Nicolle got hers the other day and emailed me right away. She ran 15 minutes and was amazed at how her feet adjusted when things twinged. Though her knees and hips felt like they’d had a huge lifting workout afterward. It’s a big adjustment for all those bones, joints and muscles to go from the ultra support of most running shoes to barefoot. Makes sense it would take a lot of time to train them up to task.

I’m gonna get a pair and see where they take me.

Has anyone else tried this? Opinions, thoughts, input – please share!


  1. Hi! I also am reading the book and coincidentally just got back from my third run in my VFFs! (Honestly, I am not a huge fan of the author’s writing style, but I do enjoy the content and stories, and it does inspire me to get out and run just because I can!) After my first run in the Vibrams, just over a mile, I could barely walk in the morning. Never had it worse. Three days later, during my second run, I felt burning in my calves but was amazingly fine the next morning. Today, my third run, 1.5 miles, felt great! So far, no twinges of past pains(runners knee, itbs)! Knock on wood! Enjoy the book and good luck! Take it easy the first few times, believe me!

    • Love the first hand accounting of VFF progress! Thank you so much for sharing! Wonderful news!

  2. Well they do look kind of cool! Let me know what you think/feel after you get yours. My body could use a good wake up call. Love you!


    • Hi Mom – Isn’t that a cute pic of Kevin?

  3. I just got this book from a friend – can’t wait to read it now 🙂

  4. i thought the book was good. BUT i had huge problems with his writing style and his exaggeration. everything was THE HARDEST RACE EVER.

    i also find an argument with little acknowledgement of the counter argument not entirely convincing.

    many people become huge barefoot running disciplines, etc, but lots and lots of people read this (or the thousands of other things similiar out there right now) and go nuts with their barefoot shoes and you’re going to get hurt if you do that. you need to ease into it.

    i have a lot more to say but i’ll stop.

    basically, it was interesting and definitely something to take into consideration. but. eh.

    • Hey Kelly – you’re right about his writing style – I gave him leeway because I was so into the story and history. And I can totally see how people would go to the extreme. It was clear to me that we need to train those 20 muscles and 33 joints very slowly after a lifetime of walking around in super supportive shoes. I’m wondering if it’s possible to do both? Sometimes you guys (real racers) race in those super flat race shoes – how does that feel?

  5. wow! Very interesting, I had no idea. I’ll be interested to hear how these ‘barefoot’ shoes work for you. The book sounds cool too. I’d love to be able to run ‘effortlessly’ as the Chi Running crowd attests.

    good luck!

    • Hi Kate – it’s not as easy as it sounds – that’s for sure. I’ve tried working into it and it’s hard to tell when you’re sore because you’ve changed something for ultimately the better or it’s just not working. 🙂

  6. Those are the funkiest shoes I have ever seen! I’m pretty sure they don’t have enough material for my size 11W feet that are flatter that flapjacks.

  7. Be SUPER careful if you embark upon VFF running or barefoot running. Ease into it…few minutes at a time. I have not embarked upon this yet…but am curious to maybe give it a tiny try. But if you kick off your shoes and run around in the grass for 5 mins you will see that you won’t heel strike! Its too hard on the body to heel strike without shoes and some people believe it is those of us who are heel strikers are why we have some issues.

  8. I have been skimming the shelves of my Half-Price bookstore for that book, but have not gotten lucky yet… Also intrigued by the barefoot shoes, but I think my flat feet need all the help they can get ;-)!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: