The Running Man

Most of us can probably rattle off the names of five or six books that really impacted our lives.  If I had to do it, it would prove a little embarrassing, because though I have read thousands of books in my 50 plus years, including some that I suppose are considered among the classics, most of those that truly impacted my life, (consciously, at least) are books most people never heard of.  I’m pretty sure a lot of that depends upon your age when you read it, I remember “Watership Down” as being a very important book to me, but I’m not sure it would even hold my interest now.

So, anyway, I just finished one that I can honestly say is among the best books I have ever read.  I couldn’t bear to put it down to work, eat, or sleep.  It’s title is “Born To Run”.  It starts out being a story about the Tarahumara Indians that still live in one of our planet’s most inhospitable regions called the Copper Canyons in Northern Mexico.  What makes these people unique, besides residing among cliffs where even sure-footed goats have plunged to their deaths, is that they literally live to run.  Fifty to one hundred mile runs are common. And they do it barefoot.

The book makes a good case that running is what we were all born to do.

I’ve done my share.  When I was young, I ran everywhere.  It felt good and I had a naturally comfortable stride.  When I was in the Army, running was a breeze, even with a full pack and wearing boots, I never once felt I couldn’t finish.  Ditto with the police academy.  In fact, we ran more as police recruits than I ever did as a soldier.  Again, while many of my classmates fell out on longer runs, I never even threw up.  Why I got away from it remains a mystery to me.  I played football longer than I should have.  I still play some hoops, but I don’t run.  At least I didn’t.  I’m planning to change that.

Yes, this book is the reason. There is ample science presented in this book, but done in a way that even a non-scientifically minded sort could connect the dots.

The book also connected with me with respect to eating habits.  I was happy to learn that by almost any measure, pinto beans are nature’s perfect food.  I eat a lot of them, so this was vindication of what I have been telling my kids for years.  They also consume a fair amount of chia…yes, the stuff they make chia pets from.  The Primary Wife was already way ahead of me about that, as she has been adding it to her food for awhile now.

I live 1/2 mile from a grocery store, yet every time I go, I drive.  Why is that?  Sure, it saves time, but I rarely do much in a hurry anyway, so I’m re-thinking this bad habit.

Read the book.  Especially if there has ever been a time when you felt that you were in peak physical condition, the book will actually make that feeling return, at least while you are reading it.  I’m sharing my copy with my oldest son, but I may buy an additional one for my youngest kids to read.

Hey!  I’m like Oprah over here!


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7 responses to “The Running Man

  1. Jeez, Mack:

    I missed the whole thing about you being military AND a cop, thanks for your service, on both counts.

    I stopped running when I was old enough to walk. Running has never been fun or easy for me. You should get together with William Yelverton; he’s doing Master’s races and is doing quite well with that. He’s only over to Murfreesboro.

    Both the Apache and the Commanche were said to be long distance runners, with one of those loping “wolf step” gaits.

    Threre’s a book, “Thumbs, Toes and Tears”, which supports your contention about our living to run. Our big toe, according to the author’s parsing of the available data, developed so that we could “push off” and carry a lot of weight, forward of the ball of our foot. This advantage over other primates enabled our distant ancestors to outrun more prey and predators than their cousins.

  2. There’s a term in the book for the process of hunting an animal by chasing it until it drops, (persistence hunting) that I found fascinating. Yes, some American Indian tribes were sick distance runners as well. The Tarahumara are in a league of their own, though.

    I was a lousy soldier. Even worse cop. But thanks for the kind words.

  3. More about the police and military experiences, please.

    How did you find this book?

  4. Stacy

    Cool to see this post…I’m actually right in the middle of the book as we speak. I was told about it by a mutual friend that appreciates running like I do. I do 4-5 miles a day year around, and love it…but was having problems with feet pain. I’m a slow runner, plodding a lot. It’s helping me realize that changing my form keeps me healthier. I even went as far as to purchase the Vibram shoes, but I haven’t been able to fully change to them yet. Not sure why I’m holding out.

  5. I used to walk to the grocery store but the main reasons I don’t anymore are that 1) the store moved and is now further away; 2) IT’S SO FUCKING HOT HERE; 3) the time issue you mentioned; and 4) IT’S SO FUCKING HOT HERE!

    I bought a bike and thought I could bike to the store but I don’t because a) people here can’t drive and we all know bike lanes come from the devil; and b) IT’S SO FUCKING HOT HERE!

  6. Southern Beale:

    Boy, that sounds pretty bad. I don’t like to bicycle for the same reasons. Well, that, and people laugh at me. And I’m pretty lazy.

    I’ve been working on a beergogglebicycle helmet for a while now and have done several prototypes. The main problem seems to be that once I’ve gotten the beerstream issues settled that I have insufficient co-ordination or ambition to actually, y’know, get on the bike. The helmet is waykul though.

  7. Mack

    The Primary Wife turned me on to the book, John. And believe me, there is next to nothing noteworthy in either my military or police “careers.” Hated both gigs. Must be that anti-authority thing…

    Stacy, I hear ya on the vibram thing. I’m not comfortable (yet) barefoot. May never get there.

    Beale. Weather is certainly an obstacle. Maybe I’ll drive in July and August?

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