departure

One thing I wish I blogged about more often is reading. From the look of this thing, all I do is drink and run, but actually, one of my favorite things in life is to curl up in bed and blow my entire day on a good book. (And I hate it when people refer to readers as nerds; I think people who don’t read are losers. So there.)

Since I haven’t done any running or beer drinking yet this week, I thought I’d write about reading– good news is, I’ve been reading about running. Heh.

Anyhoo.

I finished reading Born to Run, the bestseller about ultra-running and a hidden tribe of “super athletes” tucked way back in the Copper Canyon of northern Mexico. I hate to gush but I just can’t say enough good things about it, folks. I think even people who don’t run would love this book. It kept me captivated from beginning to end.

I did initially think it was kind of weird that the author was inserting himself so shamelessly into the story. Like, is this about the Tarahumara or is it about you, dude? But I think you actually end up getting a better perspective of the journey and the destination from his point of view, rather than reading the story from the viewpoint of an uninvolved third party. There are some exaggerations, yes; he likes these people, that’s obvious. But I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. He’s got a very casual, laid-back tone and he’s a bit of a smart ass. I liked his somewhat self-deprecating sense of humor. I actually thought it made the storytelling a little more intimate.

What I liked most about this book was reading about all of the incredible ultra-runners, and the biomechanics and evolutionary biology that attempts to explain them.

All my life I’ve been told by doctors and non-runners and former runners that our bodies were not made for distance running and inevitably my knees will give out and I won’t be able to run anymore. Or, worse, that some people are runners, and some just aren’t.

Well, this book kicks that theory in the ass. Supposedly, modern humans evolved into a species specifically designed to run long distances. It’s not just some lucky people who can run without pain and injury, the book surmises; it’s all people. You just have to do it right.

Sidenote: I discovered something hilarious on Amazon. The author mentions several natural foods and supplements the Tarahumara eat on a regular basis to aid endurance and injury prevention, including geranium extract, chia seeds and pinole; go to Amazon and you find that people who bought Born to Run also bought (wait for it!) geranium extract, chia seeds and pinole. It just struck me as funny — like a bunch of people all went, “oh wowwy jeez! This book says this plus this plus this = me becoming an awesome runner!” (My chia seeds are in the mail.)

Some critics said the book jumped around a lot and digressed, but I didn’t find it distracting or irrelevant. Nutshell: a good, easy read. Devouring this book on the plane ride home from Europe was torture; it totally made me want to go out for a run.

Naturally the next book I picked up was Chi Running, a hefty departure from the adventure that was Born To Run, but an engaging read just the same.

I’m only a few chapters in, but what resonates with me so far is the idea that unlike other sports, most runners don’t receive any lessons or formal training; they just go run. And most of us (namely me) are doing it wrong. This book has tons and tons of praise from runners of all ages who say that after reading the book and implementing the lessons therein, they became better runners and have had fewer (or zero!) injuries, so I figure it’s worth a shot, eh?

How did you learn to run?

Read any good books lately?

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14 thoughts on “departure

  1. Born to Run was a blast. I wanted to go hang out with the Tarahumara and all of the other crazy characters in the cast after I read it. I learned to run by… playing soccer? I’m interested in this Chi running book — from your description, it seems to imply that there is a “wrong” way to run, which raises my bullshit red flag, making this all the more intriguing.

    • Ha! Know what you mean. I probably paraphrased the word “wrong” in there myself; I tend to generalize. But, yah, I tend to be wary of fads and crazes. (Like the acai berry, what’s up with that?) I think he refers to the type of running that gets you hurt all the time vs. the kind that doesn’t. I would like to do the kind that doesn’t. Heh.

  2. I’ve heard of both these books and want to read them.. i’d like to do the kind of running that doesn’t get me hurt too… 😉

    Right now, I’m reading Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley. I’m working my way thru the Top 100 Books to read per the BBC. It’s good – but I’m dying to get my hands on The Girl Who Played with Fire.

  3. I love reading books by ultra runners. They are so inspiring! The running world seems to NOT like Dean Karanzes for some reason…but his books are really interesting to me.

  4. I am an avid runner-reader. I too liked Born to Run (Chi Running didn’t really speak to me but I should try again), but like most runner’s I loved Once a Runner. Loe-love-Loved. The sequel Again to Carthage not as much. And cheesy though it may be, I really liked Marathon Woman. Most recently I read and quite like Marathon Makers and I revisit The Perfect Mile every year or so. Running in Literature is really interesting, but not an easy start to finish read. More of a cool reference. I could go on and on ….. but I won’t subject you to any more.

  5. I haven’t read Born to Run out of solidarity against the ridiculous press it got when it was published. Maybe someday I’ll go back to it. One running book that I did enjoy was “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” by that Japanese guy whose name has now slipped my mind. It’s unusual, but good.

    Next on my list is “The Big Short,” because I like getting pissed off.

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