Born to Run: A Book Review

I’m not sure if I would classify myself as “a runner.” I like to run and pound out a few miles a few times a week. It’s a hobby that helped me lose weight and keep it off. I’ve tried twice to train for a half marathon only to be taken out by an I.T. Band injury both times. I was told by doctors that because of my flat feet, I probably wasn’t meant to run long distances. Since then, I limit my running distance to around 4 miles for fear that my knee will start screaming at me again.

Because of my ugly past with long distance running, I was intrigued by the book, “Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Ever Seen.”

Born to Run, was fascinating and left my head spinning. I assumed the book would be all about running technique and training strategy but was surprised to find it was more of an author’s journey into investigating why his foot hurt when he ran.

The story kept my attention to the very end. The author, Christopher McDougall, weaves an eccentric crowd of non-fiction characters together as he explores the history of running, ultrarunning, the running shoe industry, and super athletes- the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Copper Canyons.

This book really has changed the way I view running, particularly running shoes. One of the key points is that running is best done barefoot, or with the cheapest flattest shoe possible.

Born to Run sets out to prove that running shoes will not only NOT improve your running time, but will also lead to more injuries since they encourage poor running technique. He argues (and proves with statistical information) that a fancy shoe does the work for you, therefore weakening your foot muscles. I was amazed to learn the more expensive the running shoe, the more prone to injury a runner was! If a barefoot runner has a poor running technique, they will correct themselves because of the pain and as a result, the chance of getting injured will be greatly reduced. Research found that the more expensive the running shoe, the more prone to injury a runner was!


Commonly referencing the Tarahumara superathletes, Christopher McDougall explores not only running shoes and technique but also diet and even your mindset towards running and how it shapes your character as a person.

After reading this book, I’ve gotten the itch to start training for a half marathon again. Was it my running technique that messed up my I.T. Bands? My expensive, extra supportive shoes? I’m itching to find out if a pair of Nike Free shoes or  barefoot running shoes would change my injury prone knees.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit this but yesterday, I set out to try out this barefoot theory. While on a running trail, jogging stroller and all, I kicked off my shoes and jogged for a bit. Despite my fear of what other people would think when they saw a barefoot mom pushing a stroller, it did feel very freeing. However, I discovered quickly that my feet are a little too soft to pound into gravel. I made it about 100 yards before my shoes were back on. I had to laugh at myself a little bit but I really could feel a difference in the way I ran.

If you can’t tell, I really liked this book. Born to Run was entertaining, informative, challenging, and a fast read. I’d recommend you run out and grab this book… barefoot of course. 🙂

Lastly, here is a video that recently came out that gives you visual idea of what the book is about. 

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  1. Wow, this sounds familiar. I too run- a few times a week, more often than not with all the kids in a HUGE stroller, mostly to stay fit and relive a few brief college glory days. I too have tried to train for a marathon, and then a half marathon, only to be thwarted by shin splints both times. This sounds like a book I would get a lot from- especially as I try to decide whether or not to run a half marathon this summer… !

    Emily at

    • Polly says

      Proud of you for packing in the kids for a run! I hope I’m that motivated when I have more than one. I think you’d really benefit from this book.

  2. Erika says

    My Dad loved this book. He actually gave it to me to borrow last summer and it’s just been sitting on my shelf. I think I’ll grab it and read it now!!