Month: August 2009

Born To Run

Born To Run

Why do my feet hurt? Over the past eight months I have been suffering from what I think is plantar fascitis. Whenever I walk, jog or run any kind of distance my left heel is killing me and I can barely walk on my foot. A friend of mine advised me to stretch a lot and wear comfortable shoes. I have tried to do as much as I can (without seeing a doctor) to cure this injury but I am at a loss. Not only that, I’m very flat-footed, which probably doesn’t help.

All that said, I just recently finished a book by Christopher McDougall called Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super athletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. It begins with McDougall complaining about his foot pain while he’s running. He sees the top sports medicine doctor in the country and is told to stop running. Instead of taking his advice, McDougall went looking for another solution to his problem.

His search takes him to Mexico in the Copper Canyons where the greatest long distance runners live: the Tarahumara Indians. With the help from a mysterious loner named Caballo Blanco, McDougall uncovers the secrets of the Tarahumara and is inspired to discover the ultra-athlete within himself. McDougall speaks to sports coaches, athletes, doctors, scientists and biologists to find out more about human beings and their relationship to running.

This book is captivating and inspiring. Even before I got to the last half of the book I felt like going for a 10k run. The story is exciting, and the people that he writes about are fascinating, a little mysterious and very entertaining. The high point of the narrative is the 50 mile marathon in the Copper Canyons against the Tarahumara and some of North America’s best ultra athletes. There is no advertising, no sponsorships, no publicity or attention from the outside world—nothing except a group of individuals who love to run.

I found the discussions of running barefoot especially interesting. According to some evolutionary biologists, we started off as barefoot hunters running down our prey, a form of hunting still practiced today by some peoples, such as the Kalahari Bushmen. How did we come to believe that we needed $200 Nike shoes to go for a jog? Months ago I read an article about running barefoot that raised some of the same questions, and I was so intrigued by the concept of walking around barefoot that I still plan to experiment and hope that maybe I can get rid of this nasty pain in my heel. Whatever the case, I highly recommend this page turner. If it doesn’t get you off your ass to go for a little spin around the neighbourhood then I don’t know what will.

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