You need to read this book. I don't care if you think running is the most horrible, awful invention in the entire universe. Actually, the more you think that the more you should read this book because this story is going to change your mind.
Anyone that knows me well knows that I have a love/hate relationship with running. I will love it for two months and then loathe it for six. I love the strength, the power, and the freedom of running, but I hate the pain, the fatigue, and the "wall." (The wall is that mental stack of bricks you hit where you tell yourself that you just can't take another step.) However, this book has me looking at running in a completely new light.
This book is filled with information on everything from the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico to the most grueling ultra races, to why we, as humans, have evolved and survived based on our unique ability to run. In essence, this book states in layman's terms the theory that we really were born to run. It also gives examples of how the contemporary running shoe has not only changed our running style (did you know "jogging" was an unknown term until Nike created it in 1962?) but actually has created new injuries related to running. This is then followed up with information on the barefoot running movement and shoes that let you run as if you were barefoot, but save you the blisters.
But this is more than an informational read. This is an amazing story of a writer who not only did his research, but participated in the race of a lifetime. And throughout the book, you feel more like you're reading a story rather than reading the facts. That was always my issue with non-fiction books: I got bored. Fact after boring fact - give me a juicy story over what really happened any day. But the last couple of books I've read have started to show me the potential of non-fiction. There's so much in this world that's amazing and interesting (I really want to read more about the Tarahumara now) and I want to know it all - especially if it's told by Christopher McDougall.
I can't say enough good things about this book. Not only was it entertaining, I learned a ton. I even started trying out some of the different styles of running McDougall mentions, and I've found myself not only enjoying running again, but realizing that it doesn't have to be painful. And I'm trying to incorporate a different mindset as well: to really be a runner, it's not about doing it to fit into your skinny jeans. It's about the freedom you gain, the confidence you build, and the peace you find within your soul. Running is what we were born to do, and it's time to stop defying nature.
5 out of 5 stars. Everyone should read this book at least once, and I hope you'll find it as inspirational and interesting as I did.
**For the record, McDougall is much more objective than I am. He lays out the facts about running, Nike, the contemporary running shoe, modern "barefoot" running shoes (Vibram Five Fingers), life in the mountains in Mexico, the Tarahumara way of life, ultra races, etc. with a grace and style that only a true journalist has. I feel like my review is not doing his book justice because there are so many things I want to tell you about it, but not enough time or space. Just take my word for it. Go read it. If you don't get as much out of it as I did, at least you'll still learn something. But I think you'll like it.