Book Highlights: Born To Run – Christopher McDougall

I just finished reading ‘Born To Run’ and am currently experiencing withdrawal from the tales of the gang traversing the mountain gorges in Mexico. This book is a great composition of story, characters, and history lesson that leaves you understanding running form, endurance and personality for pushing the body to its limits. Here are some notes and inspirations I recorded from the book.

This book also has inspired the barefoot running movement, especially the success of the Vibram 5 fingers shoes. My opinion is that running barefoot is effective only if running on natural surfaces. Running barefoot strengthens foot muscles and improves posture, however, the rigors on the body while running on asphalt will be drastically magnified by running barefoot. I see barefoot running as an effective training tool for running on  beaches, snow, and grass fields, but I would not risk the compounding stress of them otherwise. I’ve already been out for a beach jog in my winter surf booties and couldn’t be happier with the feeling and freedom over the sand!

  • The best runners leave no tracks – Tao Te Ching
  • Let ‘er rip
  • Tarahumara / Raramuri – Mexican tribe in Copper Canyon, Barrancas (deep raving/gorge).
  • Shaolin monks
  • They don’t use their super strength to kick ass, but to live in peace
  • Virtues: Strength, Patience, Cooperation, Dedication, Persistence
  • Why could he do it? Because no one ever told him he couldn’t
  • You live up to your own life expectations
  • Make friends with pain, and you will never be alone – Ken Chlouber, creator of Leadville Trail 100
  • A fog moving across the mountains
  • But you can’t muscle through a 5-hour run that way; you have to relax into it, like easing your body into a hot bath, until it no longer resists the shock and begins to enjoy it
  • Relax enough and your body become so familiar with the cradle rocking rhythm that you almost forget you’re moving
  • Racing doesn’t divide villages, it unites them
  • The lion can lose and come back to hunt another day, but the antelope gets only one mistake
  • But the American approach to running, rotten at its core…it wasn’t art, it was business. No wonder so many people hated running, if you thought it was only a means to an end – an investment in becoming faster, skinnier, richer – then why stick with it?
  • You have to give your heart to the goddess of wisdom, give her all your love and attention, and the goddess of wealth will become jealous and follow you
  • Ask nothing from your running and you’ll get more than you ever imagined
  • He runs as if his next step would be his last
  • [Sprints] I already know how to go slow, I though the point was to go fast
  • Zatopek found a way to run so that, when he won, even other teams were delighted
  • Loosening your grip on your own desires, putting aside what you wanted and appreciating what you got, being patient and forgiving and undemanding
  • Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstruction
  • When you run on the earth and run with the earth, you can run forever
  • Instead of cringing from fatigue, you embrace it. You refuse to let it go. You get to know it so well, you’re not afraid of it anymore
  • The only way to truly conquer something, as every great philosopher and geneticist will tell you, is to love it
  • His friends didn’t bother trying to help him up, they knew there was no voice in the world more persuasive than the one inside Scott’s [Jurek] own mind
  • Living on the edge wasn’t about danger, it was about curiosity
  • Nothing works out according to plan, but it always works out
  • Spiritual animal
  • I’m a pauper by choice, and I find it extremely liberating – Barefoot Ted
  • Bricolage – less is more
  • Why add something if your born with everything you need
  • The same man created a market for a product and then created the product itself
  • Your feet are your foundation. Wake them up! Make them strong! Connect with the ground
  • He’s from LA, he things you’ve got to fill every space with noise
  • Know how to train, not strain
  • The better you are at breathing, the better you are at running
  • You become your own test subject, you start seeing the world as a reflection of your own life, and your own life as a reference point for just about every phenomenon in the world
  • Two kinds of great runners – sprinters and marathoners
  • Springy tendons store and return energy, just like the rubber-band props on balsa-wood airplanes
  • Evolution seemed to be all about air, the more highly evolved the species, the better his carburetor
  • When quadrupeds run, they get stuck in a one-breath-per-locomotion cycle. But human runners tested never went 1-to-1
  • As long as we keep sweating, we can keep going
  • The human head, with its unique position directly on top of the neck, acts like the roof weights used to prevent skyscrapers from pitching in the wind (ballast)
  • We live in a culture that sees extreme exercise as crazy
  • We’ve taken away the jobs our bodies we meant to do and we’re paying for it
  • It’s easier to get outside yourself, when you’re thinking about someone else
  • The worst mistake I could make would be getting lulled into someone else’s race
  • Just beat the course. No one else. Just the course.
  • What causes you to tense up is the unexpected, but as long as you know what you’re in for, you can relax and chip away at the job
  • On the trail, your punishment is in your own hands
  • Running isn’t about making people buy stuff. Running should be free, man. – Caballo Blanco
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