Born to Run (Christopher McDougall) – Short Review4 min read

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall Book Cover

Three Sentence Summary

Explore how evolution has made you the perfect endurance runner. The journey of a reporter to bring ancient and modern schools of ultra runners together for an unforgettable race. Through these veterans I gained a new perspective on running especially with correct biomechanics to prevent injury.

My Thoughts

I was drawn to this book as I had recently started wearing barefoot shoes and had heard this book kick started the trend of barefoot running. Basically I was looking for some self validation I guess. This book turned out to be much more than that. Not only did it have a very entertaining memoir-esque story  it has inspired me to focus on my running biomechanics as well as train for my first marathon. I may have caught the endurance running bug!
Chapter 28 was a true standout for me delving into the evolutionary past of humans and how we became the ultimate endurance runners. Professor Dennis Bramble and Professor David Carrier provided a theory as to how early Homo sapiens managed to outcompete the Neanderthals. This all comes down to our ability to be the best endurance runners. We have many muscles and tendons that are shared in multiple running animals which offer elasticity and stability. These include the Achilles tendon, nuchal ligament and in humans large glute muscles. The Neanderthals in comparison were built for strength and being fast over short distances and so had none of these components. Being bipedal also allows us to control our breathing whilst running as, unlike in cheetahs, our lungs do not get pushed forward which automatically expels the air. This accompanied by being one of the only species to sweat means we can effectively run an animal to exhaustion. This is known as persistent hunting and is why humans were so successful. Persistence hunting is an ancient technique which is rarely used in the modern age even by indigenous tribes due to gloabalisation and the invention of tools. In other words why work so hard for your food? One tribe which still encompasses ultra marathon distance running into their daily lives are the Tarahumara tribe of Chihuahua, Mexico and are the main focus of this book.
For this tribe running is their way of life and everyone whether young, old, male or female is involved. They have extreme endurance and run in thin sandals and brightly coloured ponchos. The best bit though is they run predominantly for fun and because its second nature to them which is why you don’t see them in many races. Their story is fascinating to learn about especially Chris’ journey to gain their trust and learn from them.
One of the biggest changes that came from this books release was the boom in barefoot running. After all if we have evolved to be the perfect long distance hunters why do we need cushioned running shoes? This of course caused many polarising views predominantly due to people rushing into the process and getting injured. You have to walk before you can run and train to strengthen the muscles in your foot all over again. There’s also the fact that honestly it does look strange in the modern world. Thankfully newer shoe manufacturers have changed this making it harder to differentiate from the norm. I have gone through my own barefoot shoe journey walking in them for over 2 years and honestly wouldn’t go back. I have now set my sights on fully transitioning them into my running however is a whole other story but one I will likely write about in future. 

Favourite Quote


  • “if you don’t think you were born to run, you’re not only denying history. You’re denying who you are.”

The one big thing I took from this book which has helped me in my running is the simple motto of ‘Easy, Light, Smooth and Fast’. Of all the biomechanics and technique mentioned only this really stuck and that’s because it’s true! If the running doesn’t feel easy just slow down and focus on making it feel smooth again. This coupled with a posture check and proper breathing and you’re good to let your instincts take care of the rest. If you feel like you’re just gliding along you’re doing it right!



If you’ve read this book already I’d love to know your thoughts. Let me know down below!

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