Thursday, April 12, 2012


I love to read about running.  I love to read stories about people who accomplish amazing things - or have worked at it so much that they've made huge improvements.  I love reading about running so much that I sometimes forget to um, do the running (you may recall my recent "epiphany": Reading about how to become a fast runner will not make you a fast runner.  You have to actually DO THE STUFF THEY get faster).  Anyway, back in February when I started this little bloggy blog, I put Born to Run, my favorite running related reading material to date(1), on the list of things I wanted to write about.  Whether you like a good suspense story (who will win the big race whose creation is chronicled throughout the book / finish line nail biter brings it to a close?), Malcom Gladwell style findings from research and scientific studies (Blink meets Runners World, anyone?), or anecdotes about incredible athletes to inspire you to get out there and go for your best, this book is for you.

When my second cousin and Run Like a Philly Girl ("RLPG") founder, Kate(2), posted on the RLPG meet up site about a lecture to be given by the author, I immediately signed up (it was NOT going to sell out before I got a ticket!) for the event and knew that Wednesday, April 11th would be the day I wrote about  Born to Run(3).

Kate and I with best-selling author Christopher McDougall!!!!!  What a Wednesday!
The Book
I first heard about Born to Run from a seatmate on a plane to Portland, Oregon.  This guy worked at Powell's in Portland.  If it's not the biggest or best (non-chain, anyway) book store in the country, it's got to at least be close - the place is ginormous - a warehouse towering with used, new, rare books.  You name it, they've got it!  Of all the books he could have recommended in this huge store, what did seatmate recommend that I MUST buy while visiting?  Did you guess Born to Run?  You're an awfully quick one, reader, because  

So...I went to Powell's books and....did not buy Born to Run.  (And you thought I was soooooo predictable)  I did, however, immediately add it to my library cue back in NYC.  I've always been a library girl.  Why buy a book when I can check it out of the library as many times as I want for free?  But then something happened.  Within about 50 pages I was so hooked that I was ready to cancel any other plans that would get in the way of finishing the book.  It went something like this:  

Dinner?  Movie? Date Night?  No thank you.  I'm reading the most addictive book ever.  Wait, can someone get me this book on tape, stat?  I feel like I could put this book down and go take on a hundred miles, piece of cake, but wait, no, I couldn't do that because I can't put this down.

How do you know I'm not exaggerating about my love of this book?  I went out and bought it for my Nook so I could read it again and again whenever I wanted.  That's right, library girl liked it so much that she couldn't have a waiting list between her and this book.  And THEN I bought it for my dad, too.  And then I threw a hissy fit that this book was SO PERFECT for him and he was going to like it SO MUCH that even if he didn't get to finish his other library books before they had to go back that he could not wait one more second to start the book.  And what do you know?  He loved the book so much that he insisted his good running buddy read it, too.  

I won't go into too much more detail than what I already said in my first paragraph about the book because trust me, you'll want to read it yourself.  I'm sure that reading the professionally written excerpt will give you a better idea of what you're in for than me telling you that it's a story about the great running people, the Tarahumara, of Mexico's Copper Canyons and a man who strives to learn what enables them to seemingly effortlessly cover ultra-marathon distances at blistering paces well into their old age.  But, this is the general theme throughout the book and along the way you'll learn about fascinating debates and tests related to the way we run, what we run in, why we run, and so much more.  Pretty much in less than a weekend you'll be done the book and wanting to re-read it and share it with everyone you know.   You might also be inspired to sign up for some crazy triple digit race like the LT100 [wait until you read the BTR description of this race!]  immediately upon finishing the book, but you may want to wait out the decision a bit...well, hey, that advice is just based on my own experience, but go for it if you want!
One downside to owning a Nook is you can't really get your copy of a book signed, so I'll just use this photo of Kate's and pretend like it's mine.  That works out nicely since we have the same name and all...

The Lecture
So....where was I?  Rambling on about how much I loved the book Born to Run and how excited I was to hear Christopher McDougall speak, right...

For all of you BTR lovers who already know what I said above is true - you will not be disappointed to know that he is just as likeable in person as he is in his writing.  He seemed down to earth, was entertaining, and got me revved up to get out there and run again.  

I really couldn't believe I got to meet this man.  How very cool. Now stop reading my blog [for today] and go get this book - you won't regret it!
In what was his first speech since the passing of his friend (and the books "hero," if you will, Caballo Blanco), Mr. McDougall shared memories of his time getting to know Caballo, the Tarahumara people, and the "secret to" (my term, not his.  he's not that preachy :)) good running.  If I had to sum up what I walked away from the lecture with (aside from excitement and an awesome photo-opt!), I would say it is the idea that running for enjoyment is the secret to becoming a better runner.  The Tarahumara people begin running when young as part of a childhood game/past-time, and it seems that Mr. McDougall has found his running to have really become special once he started running that way, too.  [I'm extrapolating and hope I'm not in any way misrepresenting his message.  Probably best that you read the book and take away what you will :)]  

Another great secret to the Tarahumara's success is their effortless style of running, which Mr. McDougall learned from his time running with them.  He shared this technique or style with the New York Times in November.  To learn about this form check out his instruction on the 100-Up here.  I actually saw this video the day before I ran the NYC marathon last year when my sister's friend Rob, who came to cheer me on, pulled it up on my computer.  At that point I figured it was a little late to be trying something new and by the time I returned from James's & my post-marathon trip to Bali I had completely forgotten about it.  Had I made the connection that it was THE CHRISTOPHER MCDOUGALL in the video I feel quite certain that I would have gone back and dedicated myself to learning the Tarahumara ways.  I feel a goal for May coming up and will keep you posted with my progress on 100-Ups.

I can't wait to power up the Nook and get re-reading this keeper, but for now it's off to bed and, as Caballo blanco would say, Run Free!

(1)  It's true!! I'm not just saying this because I met him!!  Those of you who are friends with me on can vouch or me - I gave it 5 stars!
(2) Yes, you will obviously be hearing much more about her in the future!
(3) Okay, so I probably also let out an audible squeal of joy...details, details... 


  1. I assume you know that Caballo Blanco unfortunately passes away very recently. His body was found a couple of days after he died in a canyon. Appears he died while doing what he loved-running.

    1. See first sentence under 3rd picture, silly:

      "In what was his first speech since the passing of his friend (and the books "hero," if you will, Caballo Blanco),"

  2. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much! We were going to see Caballo in a couple of weeks in Westchester - but sadly that won't happen - RIP!

    I actually didn't enjoy the book that much (and like you love a good running story). I don't know why - I just find it very unrelatable with regards to where I am with running.

    I am the only person int he world that thinks this - I know!

  3. What a great opportunity and book review, I'm adding this to my 'to read' list!