Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Read this book.
Born to Run (A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen) by: Christopher McDougall
I read this book a while ago, but it is so worth reading, for so many reasons, that I feel compelled to go back in time and put this into a current blog posting.
You can find many summaries of the book by simply googling it, so I will not bother summarizing; however, I will tell you some of the more interesting things this book made me think about:
1. Evolution and Physiology. Why and how did we outlive the Neanderthals, even though they were bigger, stronger and even superior in brain size? How is it that we, at our greatest, can run down a deer? Interestingly, the answer to both of these questions has everything to do with our running endurance, specifically our running endurance under extreme conditions, like excessive heat/sun.
2. Diet and Exercise. I am already a very health-conscious person, when it comes to my eating and exercise habits. However, I do not get my information directly from nutritionists and other experts. Instead, I prefer to piece together my own diet and exercise belief system, from my reading, personal experience, intuition & logic. In this book, the Tarahumara Indians, arguably the best runners in the world, many of whom can run over 100 miles without rest, (and who also have nearly nonexistent incidences of modern diseases) subsist off of a diet of mainly the following foods:
pinto beans, squash, chili peppers, wild beans, pinole, chia, corn tortillas (made with limestone for calcium), rice, corn, and many other fruits and vegetables. They eat meat only occasionally. Aside from their homemade beer-type liquor, their diet consists of NO sugars or processed carbohydrates.
Also, Geranium Niveum (a.k.a Wild Geranium) is the Tarahumara super drug- as effective as red wine at neutralizing disease-causing free radicals.
3. Questioning the Benefits of Modernization. There is no question that some things modern are indispensably and indisputably incredible; I would never want to take back the advances achieved by modern medicines like penicillin. However, as most of us know, even modern medicine is certainly a double-edged sword: my mind automatically switches from penicillin to the more modern issues of toxic over-medicating and poisonous elective 'injectables'. This book discreetly highlights some of the counter-productivity associated with modernization. One of the most clear examples is the reality that, in nearly every single study done, the price of running shoes is positively correlated with the frequency and extremity of injury. Christopher McDougall points out that many experts would even go so far as to suggest that running barefoot, as the Tarahumara do, is far better for our bodies than running in a pair of Nike Shox!! As I pointed out in #2, the Tarahumara Indians experience nearly non-existent levels of modern disease, which most likely has something to do with any or all of the following variables: they do not ingest any of our 'modern' sugars and processed carbohydrates, they exercise outdoor regularly and extensively, and they have an extremely peaceful culture, free of many of the stressors associated with modern society (9 to 5 workdays, excessive use & consumption of technology etc). These are just a couple reasons, amongst many, why this book made me question the benefits of modernization.
So, basically I could go on and on about Born to Run and the things it made me think about, but I really suggest that you go out and buy it or stay home and download it, and start reading today.