I’m going to be honest with you. I haven’t read Born to Run, or anything else the author has written. I did try and read it about a year ago and made it through about 3 pages. I’m not sure what it was about the book that turned me off so quickly. I think I was probably predisposed to not like it because of what I had heard about the book and more so because of who had told me to read it, namely lots of people who run much slower than me or don’t run at all. The book lost me right from the subtitle “A hidden tribe, superathletes, and the greatest race the world has never seen.” Knowing exactly who and what he was talking about, I already disagreed completely with the premise of the book so once I started reading and found the writing to be rather hokey I just couldn’t go on.
If you think that this post is going to turn into a giant hate-fest on Born to Run its author and the “movement” it has inspired, then A. you are very smart or B. you know me personally or C. both. Lets start with the subtitle since that is all I remember from my partial yet incomplete reading of the book.
A hidden tribe?: Is it really possible for a tribe to be hidden when people have been writing stories about them for more than 100 years? Even if you want to forget about all the cultural stories that have been written about them over the past many decades as far back as the 1970’s running magazines were doing features on them.
Superathletes?: Super would imply the ability to do things no mere mortal athlete could hope to accomplish. Running at a moderate pace for a long time doesn’t equal super in my book.
The greatest race the world has never seen?: the greatest race the world has never seen is every 3200 meter race at the end of a Tuesday dual meet at your local high school. Hell even the people who attended the meet didn’t see it, but those kids are busting their ass usually after having raced 1 other races often 2. And what kind of sick person came up with the 3200 meter race, the only race in the world with a worse distance than the 1600 meter.
There ends my ability to discuss Born to Run the book, as it is all I have read of the book and I don’t want to talk about something I don’t know anything about. That would just be dumb. So here starts my brilliant insight and many fold complaint of Born to Run the movement. Did you ever have one of those conversations where as soon as the person starts talking to you all you can think is you wish you had an icepick so you jab it directly into your retina? Me too! And everyone starts like this, “Oh you run? Have you…” they don’t even have to get past “have you” and I know what the next thing to come out of their cheese doodle filled mouths is going to be. It is like when someone shows up on your door step in a white shirt and a tie, all you want to do is figure out how to end the conversation as quickly as possible. The difference is saying “I have my own beliefs which I am happy with” is a quick and polite way to reclaim your front stoop, but it doesn’t seem to work on the BTR evangelicals. What’s worse is I have yet to have a fast runner ask me if I have read, or recommend that I read Born to Run. I am using the word fast very broadly, lets define it as anyone who runs so that they can at some point enter a race and find out how fast they can finish a set distance. And here in lies my biggest issue with the BTRM, it isn’t about running as an athletic competition it is about running as a social status update. It is about $150 natural running shoes, speaking tours, finisher medals and our nauseating habit as rich white people to venerate a “primitive” cultural while at the same time distilling it down to easily marketed cliches. It is about not understanding the difference between correlation and causation, and pretending to be an expert in evolutionary biology, biomechanics, and physiology because you read a blog post about each one.
I could go on and on about my dislike for the BTRM and how it is merged or morphed or formed the unholy offspring the BFM (that’s barefoot movement) but I’m going to restrain myself here to one quick point to all you “shoe companies are the devil and Kenyans all grow up running barefoot until they have to don shoes for the sponsorship money” conspiracy nut bags. If all these great runners would really rather race 26.2 miles on asphalt in bare feet why do the fastest of them all wear Adidas AdiZero Adios weighing 7.4 ounces with a 12mm heel drop when Adidas makes just as expensive shoes that are much lighter and have much less heel drop? Yes that is right, the 3 fastest marathons ever were all run wearing big clunky foot coffins the 7.4 oz Adios not any one of the many 5 oz or less 4mm heel drop racing shoes in the world.
But I digress, and I think it is too late to gress so I’ll just wrap up. I don’t care if you read Born to Run. I don’t care if running barefoot cured your lupus. It don’t care what part of your foot hits the ground first. I don’t care what an isolated group of humans in some part of the world I will never go to do as an act of survival, I just hope I will never have to do it to survive myself. In closing I would like to leave you with this video clip from BBC’s 2002 “The Life of Mammals” written and narrated by my personal hero and fame naturalist Sir David Attenborough. The clip is titled “Human Mammal, Human Hunter” and is I believe the only ever recording of an actual persistence hunt. I want you to pay close attention to what the evil shoe companies have forced these noble primitives to wear on their feet.