Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Lazy Reading: Born To Run

Born to RunAs a kid I enjoyed lounging on the couch and watching aerobics shows.  There is nothing quite as relaxing as sitting in air conditioned splendor watching other people sweat uselessly.  Even watching sports isn't as perfect; after all, it is possible that athletes are having fun.  The literary equivalent is reading books about ultramarathoners, such as Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, which I read on my NOOK so I wouldn't have to exert myself by holding an weighty tome.

The interesting parts of the story followed several of the elite athletes who do ultramarathons, where the first 26 miles are just the warm-up.  The Tamahumara Indians are the holy grail of this sport; they are a tribe in Mexico who run for days on end as a matter of course.  They rarely come out into the world after a few distasteful episodes, so for a one day race (helped along by the author of this book) many of the top runners came to them.  The book weaves about, talking about the Tamahumara, about the people who stumble into running, about how the author's injuries during his own running training and how that sparked his interest in people who broke all the rules and yet stayed healthy, and how various trainers and experts approach gear and style to help athletes protect their legs while running.  One theory is that most of the advanced technology in running shoes has never been tested; another is that running barefoot helps prevent injury because things hurt faster, making you stop.  Except it doesn't seem that any of the ultramarathoners described in this book stop just because things hurt.

I'm not sure about a lot of the science I read, but it did make running sound like a possibly enjoyable activity.  Maybe I'll try it again.  In a desert.  Wearing tire-treads for shoes.  Or maybe I'll just read about it.

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