Born to Run Book Review

Happy Friday! I started off my day with a 5k distance run on the treadmill.

On the topic of running, I finally finished Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.


The book follows the author’s journey to find out why a remote tribe of Indians in Mexico called the Tarahumara can run ultra marathons with seemingly little effort and in the most minimalist shoes, while he gets intense foot pain after running a mere 3 miles around his neighborhood. He refuses to accept the advice of many doctors telling him to either spend hundreds of dollars on orthopedics and expensive shoes and still bear some pain, or quit running and pick up another sport. He believes the Tarahumara must have a secret and he intends to discover it.

In doing so, he seeks out Caballo Blanco, also known as Micah True (who recently passed away in real life). The author has been told that Caballo Blanco is one of the only non-Indians who has a relationship with the Tarahumara tribe. The journey through Mexico to find Caballo Blanco proves to be very difficult, but once he finds him, he learns more than he could have ever hoped for about running and life.

The book takes you through many shorter inspirational stories, ending with an ultra marathon pitting some of America’s greatest and craziest runners against the Tarahumara. In the end, the author is actually able to complete the ultra marathon (after learning how to run the right way and without pain).

I really enjoyed the book and finished it in a few days. The inspirational stories were great, but the author also finds out quite a bit about the science behind running. The book makes you believe that humans really are “born to run”. I don’t think I’ll ever be running like the Tarahumara or trying to outrun a deer (which the book claims is possible for humans!), but the book definitely makes you want to run and more than that, to enjoy running. It also made me want to try out barefoot running shoes – we’ll see if I actually ever do!

One last thing that I found a bit eerie about the book is that in the book Micah True says that one day when his time comes, he will go out for a run and never come back. And that’s exactly what he did a few weeks ago. He truly died doing what he loved most.

If you’re a runner, or have ever wanted to be one, I would highly recommend reading Born to Run. I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Just move your legs. If you don’t think you were born to run you’re not only denying history. You’re denying who you are.”

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes 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 the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”

“You don’t stop running because you get old, you get old because you stop running.”

“We’re all Running People, as the Tarahumara have always known. But the American approach — ugh. Rotten at its core. It was too artificial and grabby, Vigil believed, too much about getting stuff and getting it now: medals, Nike deals, a cute butt. It wasn’t art; it was business, a hard-nosed quid pro quo. 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 if you weren’t getting enough quo for your quid?”

“Name any other athletic endeavor where sixty-four-year-olds are competing with nineteen-year-olds. Swimming? Boxing? Not even close. There’s something really weird about us humans; we’re not only really good at endurance running; we’re really good at it for a remarkably long time.”

This one isn’t very inspirational, but I found it funny that the Tarahumara’s secret drink was made with chia seeds! I may try to replicate the drink soon :).

“I’d learn that iskiate is otherwise known as chia fresca—“chilly chia.” It’s brewed up by dissolving chia seeds in water with a little sugar and a squirt of lime. In terms of nutritional content, a tablespoon of chia is like a smoothie made from salmon, spinach, and human growth hormone. As tiny as those seeds are, they’re superpacked with omega-3S, omega-6S, protein, calcium, iron, zinc, fiber, and antioxidants. If you had to pick just one desert-island food, you couldn’t do much better than chia, at least if you were interested in building muscle, lowering cholesterol, and reducing your risk of heart disease; after a few months on the chia diet, you could probably swim home.”

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2 Responses to Born to Run Book Review

  1. I’m glad to hear you liked Born to Run. I actually started it back in December and have had a really hard time getting into it. I think maybe because I keep stopping and starting…. But with the death of Micah True, I feel like I have a little more motivation to finish it.
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    • Caroline says:

      That actually happened to me too – I kept starting and stopping it and couldn’t get into it, but then finally I kept on reading and really ended up liking it!

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