Born to Run

October 8, 2012 No Comments

“Let us live so that when we come to die, even the undertaker will be sorry” Mark Twain

Born to Run is a book by Christopher McDougall which I quite enjoyed. His style of writing is like a wave, building up to many climaxes over the course of the three hundred pages. This is gripping and engaging, but it gets a little too overused so it becomes too obvious to the reader that the author is trying to build up the excitement.

As with how I usually read books, I try to highlight and jot down notes as I go, in the hope that I will better remember what i read. So here are some of the notes I took:

“Excuse me, this is my first marathon. Are we going too fast?” Zatopek, 1952 Olympics, Czech soldier.

An inspiring anecdote found in the book about this driven runner who excelled by his sheer love for running. He decided to run in the marathon at the last minute, despite never having done that distance. His rival knew of his inexperience, and set a excessively fast pace in the first 15km. When Zatopek asked if they were going too fast, the rival said “yes”, hoping to trick him. Zatopek amazingly picked up the pace, and set an Olympic record.

“Give your heart to the Goddess of Wisdom, give her all your love and attention, and the Goddess of Wealth will become jealous, and follow you”.

“Running was mankind’s first fine art – of combining our breath and mind and muscle into fluid self-propulsion over wild terrain – our original act of inspired creation”

“Glee and determination are usually antagonistic emotions, yet the Tamahumara were brimming with both at once, as if running to the death made them feel more alive” The secret of this hidden and secluded tribe of amazing runners. The books tells the tale of the author’s journey locating this tribe and pitting them in a race against the best modern ultra-runners.

This book argues that we humans are the best long distance runners amongst all animal species. Big cats, while fast, cannot last long because their lungs expand and contract together with their strides, which means they are limited to only one inhalation or exhalation per stride. Our lungs on the other hand function independently of our strides, so we can regulate our stride length and breathing to a optimal pace that we can sustain.

Back in the cavemen era, our human species were up against a rival species that was stronger, bigger and faster than we were. But when the large animals that they hunted (mammoths etc.) died off, they were unable to hunt the small fast ones, like the deer. We, on the other hand, learnt to run down the deer. Tracking its trail, keeping it at an uncomfortable trot until it died from exhaustion. This process would take about four hours – the approximate time it takes to do a marathon today. We are born because we could run.

“Like everything we love, it is really an encoded ancestral necessity.”

Books and Notes, Love for life, Love for nature

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