Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Book Review: Born to Run

Do we stop running because we get old or do we get old because we stop running? That is the central question of Christopher McDougall's Born to Run.

This is an entertaining book on a number of levels. Gluing the book together is a narrative about a fifty-mile race through the Mexico’s Copper Canyons pitting a native tribe of super runners against an odd collection of Americans.

Interspersed along the book are sections about the genesis of jogging and ultra-marathons; back ground on the athletic shoe industry and reasons why your $150 Nike's are probably bad for your feet; and the The Running Man theory of evolution.

Anthropologists have used The Running Man theory to describe why humans evolved into bipedal runners. Most mammals are the four legged variety which is much better suited towards speed running. Since most animals are faster than humans we evolved the physiology to maintain long, slow distance running. Getting up onto two legs allows us to get more oxygen in our lungs which in turn allows us to run for longer distances. We used this as a hunting strategy to, basically, run our prey to death.

I found Born to Run to be a fascinating and entertaining book. One which I would recommend you to buy. Since reading the book I've taken up jogging again. I don't expect to be doing any 50 mile ultra-marathons anytime soon though.

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