"Running Should be Free" - Caballo Blanco
A little background before I get into it...
I belong to a book club called the DeadEnders. According to Sheryl Mackay, host of the CBC radio show North by Northwest, it's one of only two known book clubs in British Columbia that has exclusively male members. The club setup is similar to Club Fat Ass in that each person in the Club hosts an event and they participate in their own event. Rather than put on a run, members pick a book and provide aid station goodies in their living room. Guests bring the wine and their opinions about the tome. Emphasis on wine and discussion, which as often as not, involves geopolitics, war stories and other dude topics that have no relevance to the book whatsoever, but I digress.
We've been through about 30 books over the past few years. The more creative members of the group who have chosen to discuss short movies, frontier poetry and fiction on their rotation, have generally received unfavorable ratings from their peers. Gotta be dude reading to get the nod. So far, John Krakauer selections have received the highest scores.
My turn to host is coming up. Straight up, my earlier choice of Michael Ondaatje received sub-par ratings from the boys. I received 6.5 - 7.5 for Robert Service, not because it was poetry, but because I required the guys to read their selections out loud.
"What's a good non-fiction story by a writer who tells a story like Krakauer?," I pondered. "How about an adventure running story?" And so we arrive at the perfect pick for the DeadEnders and a perfect read for a FatAss.
Why Read Born to Run?
First reason why I recommend you read this book is because it's a good read. Christopher McDougall is a former war correspondent who, like Krakauer, also writes for magazines. He clearly loves risk and adventure. He digs deep into the background of the people he writes about and his characters have lots of color, if not depth as well. McDougall knows how to tell a story in a way that draws the reader into it.
Apart from being a great story, it's a story about running. Ultrarunning and trail running in particular, and the author is himself an ultrarunner. As a committed trail runner and ultrarunner, I like to read about other runner's adventures and experiences. (Especially from runners I know and often run with... that's why I love the Club Fat Ass website!)
Good read. Topic I'm interested in. That alone would do it for me. But it gets even better: I know some of the characters in the book! McDougall does an awesome job of describing them and their situations, but also shares things about them I didn't know.
More still. I've been to most of the exotic places McDougall describes in the book. I've run the Leadville 100 race course. I think I ate beans in the same lady's kitchen in Creel, Mexico. I hung my hammock in a person's front yard in Batopilas at the bottom of the Copper Canyon and I ran on trails in the middle of BF nowhere with the Tarahumara Indians.
Finally, there's stuff in the book that relates to my running performance and things I have experimented with, but never resolved. Endurance things. Equipment things. Injury things. Diet things. Lots of things any semi-serious runner wonders about a lot, the author addresses with decent answers and at least enough research to make the running reader pause and say, "Hummmm?"
Jackson gives it a 9.5/10 (I think that's my highest book club rating ever!)
I'm curious to know what you think of the book and how you'd rate it. Especially curious to hear the opinion of female runners.
In conclusion, I should note the particular points that resonate with me that we might pick up on during a long run this year:
- shoes. Are they good for us? Is cushioning and stability good for the runner or good for the running shoe manufacturer?
- diet. Should citizens of the 21st century revert to a caveman diet
- money. Why do we have to pay to run?
- training. How to complete an ultra. How to compete in one.
- the Tarahumaras. Does their lifestyle trump ours?
- injuries. Would running barefoot eliminate them or compound them?