One of my most intriguing reads this summer was Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall. Last summer I humbly began training for a 5k, hoping it wasn’t too late to tone myself into decent running form in my mid-30s. There have been points of frustration over the past year, but when I read about McDougall’s discovery of a 60 year old Tarahumara Indian from a remote terrain of Mexico running an ultrathon (100 miles) in sandals and loving every minute of it, I knew there was a well of potential I’d hardly tapped. As McDougall journeys from his own aching foot to the mystery of this Tarahumara, he takes us down many roads–anthropology, physiology, nutrition, philosophy, spirituality (though he may not use that word) and more. I am NOT on the payroll of Alfred A. Knopf, but this is a 5 star read.
In general, I’m not a classicist in the sense of praying to the Greeks and their ideals, but they certainly had an understanding of the interconnection between our physical and mental well-being. Why is it that we still can’t quite seem to reconcile being “spiritual” and being “athletic”? They completely support each other. Although this isn’t McDougall’s explicit thesis, it is wholeheartedly reinforced by my reading.
Enjoy this clip of McDougall discussing the seeds of the book and his conclusions. It includes a shot of him running in the traditional Tarahumara sandals.