Thursday, August 18, 2011

Born to Run

Today I had an hour to kill whilst in downtown Vancouver. I decided to treat myself to an hour at Chapters bookstore. And naturally, I picked up a book! If I wasn't both ready for bed, and yet somehow compelled to blog, I'd likely be up all night reading. The book has already grabbed my attention, and I'm quite excited to sink my teeth into this read. I picked up a copy of Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
 No doubt you've heard about this book. Recently, I've read and heard lots about it and figured it was about time I picked up a copy and see what all the fuss is about. What caught my attention when I heard/read mention of this book in recent weeks is (a) it's an inspiring read that reminds you of the reasons why one runs - a great motivational tool for runners and (b) it explores some of my biggest curiosities about the capabilities of the average human being - or so I think it does (I just started the book).

At any rate, here's what's on my mind....As a human race, we are stationed somehow at the top of the foodchain. Because of our intelligence, our manual dexterity, and other factors (of course), we've built societies to live in where we can be cut off from other animals, be away from threats, (over)populate the planet, and truly live like we own the place. Survival of not the fittest per se, but of the ones who can make the fanciest things. Over time, we've lost the necessity to be the fittest of the animal kingdom. In fact, it's quite easy for us to forget that we are in fact animals, with primal instincts, and the ability to physically outdo other animals.

I often wonder what we'd be like as a species if we didn't live in towns and cities for the most part. What if society didn't exist as we know it? What if we lived out in the wild with other animals? We would certainly be aware of our planet and treat it better. We'd have far more respect for other animals as we'd either depend on them, or fear them. We'd be much more healthy people, eating a healthy diet free of chemicals, additives, hormones, and so on. I'm sure cancer rates would be lower (virtually non-existant?). Obesity wouldn't be very common (virtually non-existant?). And being active would just be a way of life, not just something athletically minded people do.

Here's a quote from the book I loved, where McDougall talks about his struggle with running-induced injury. The answers he was getting from sports doctors were just not quite cutting it:

"After months of seeing specialists and searching physiology studies online, all I'd managed was to get my question flipped around and fired back at me:

"How come my foot hurts?
Because running is bad for you.
Why is running bad for me?
Because if makes your foot hurt.

"But why? Antelope don't get shin splints. Wolves don't ice-pack their knees. I doubt that 80% of all wild mustangs are annually disabled with impact injuries. It reminded me of a proverb attributed to Roger Bannister, who... became the first man to break the four-minute mile: 'Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wake up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're a lion or a gazelle -- when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.'

"So why should every other mammal on the planet be able to depend on its legs except us?"

Good question, Mr. McDougall.

So this witty book so far has be nodding my head a lot, giggling a bit, and waiting in eager anticipation of McDougall's adventures. The rant above is to illustrate one really important point for me as a runner and aspiring marathoner. When I tell people what my running goals are, and how often I run, I often get a reaction of admiration. I appreciate this. People are recognizing that I've worked hard to get here and I feed off the encouragement. But at the same time, the reaction often comes with a hint of "are you crazy?" or "wow, you're hardcore". Really? Is it really crazy or hardcore? Am I not just doing what I was born to do? Reminding myself that I am indeed a mammal born with primal instincts and an ability to be strong physically helps me out. Running a marathon isn't something hardcore or unattainable, but something I should be able to do. And since I haven't been running all my life, every day for fight or flight like a mammal in the wild, it's going to take some training. This is why I'm not running a marathon this year. I'm starting with a half marathon, and working my way up. But I'm prepared to do it, I have tentative plans for when a full marathon could happen for me, but most importantly, I know that I can actually succeed in this plan. I was indeed born to run.

Have you read the book? If so, no spoilers please. But I look forward to discussing it with you!

What other running books have you read and would recommend? What other books (not necessarily running) are good reads that you'd recommend as they remind you of the power we have as humans and what amazing things each one of us is capable of? We can all do great things, physically or otherwise. Positive reminders of this fact are always a good thing, so do incorporate that into your life.

1 comment:

  1. This does sound like a good book! The Power of One is another novel that is quite inspirational.