One of my friends at work gave me the book “Born To Run” to read a while back. It sat on my desk collecting dust for about 6 weeks until I had a long flight to Germany and I started reading it. It’s written by Christopher McDougall who sets off on a quest to figure out the secrets from the greatest ultra distance runner in the world.
And it’s not just a boring technical running manual. It’s a story with incredible (real) characters, amazing insights and solid science. But above all, it inspired me to get off my ass and go for a run. Not because I felt guilty about it. It inspired me to rediscover the fun in running. To run with a smile on my face.
The deep dive into the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico, the cutting edge science and the human psychology lend themselves to uncovering a lot of lessons. Here are the top five that I gleaned from the book:
1. Humans are born to run. Love it. Do it. Leverage it to make your everyday life better. Don’t let your body atrophy because of a desk job and a sedentary lifestyle.
2. Life should be fun. The Tarahumara runners are some of the distance runners in the world. Why? Because they smile when they do it. Because they’ve been taught that it’s fun to run since and early age. And they never lost it.
3. Age is but a number. Sure, the prime age for a distance runner is 27 years old. But a 60 year old runner can still run as fast as a 19 year old. Your peak athletic ability descends at a slower rate than it ascends as you age. Especially if you train your body and give it the activity, nutrition and lifestyle it’s designed for.
4. Escape to nature to find happiness. One of the characters in the book ran to escape heartbreak. He found solace and peace through 50 mile runs over mountains, forests and fields. For you, nature can mean escaping the city, or simply finding a quiet spot in a park. But take the time to appreciate nature. It allows you to go back to who you are as a human being.
5. Technology doesn’t solve everything. In fact, it can work to create more problems than it solves. Complicated running shoe technology have systematically skyrocketed running injuries. In trying to solve problems, we’ve created technology that doesn’t allow for a natural running style. We are trying to out-engineer our bodies. The same thing happens in the workplace. Emails have systematically gobbled up our time. If you want to do work, do work. Being CC’d on an email chain isn’t doing work. Thinking and creating is.
Some books teach you through information. Some inspire you through stories. Some motivate you to get off your ass and run. For me, Born To Run was able to accomplish all three.