Born to Run

Everyone is built for running.” — Eric Orton, page 203.

What a fantastic book. The night I first picked it up intending to read a couple chapters ended with me forcing myself to stop and go to bed after tearing through half the book. Months later, I still haven’t stopped thinking about it. There’s plenty here even if you have no interest in running, and I wholeheartedly recommend reading it.

My first introduction to Born to Run and the nascent (now ascendent) barefoot running movement was this October, 2009 New York Times video and blog entry, The Roving Runner Goes Barefoot. A few months later, after repeatedly seeing the book mentioned around the web, I finally decided I might as well read it too.

This was towards the beginning of the year when, after about three years of running regularly, I decided to start taking running a little more seriously. In addition to reading the book, I also joined New York Road Runners, applied for the 2010 NY Marathon (didn’t get in) and have more than doubled my average weekly miles.

Like many others, I found the book to be profoundly inspirational, bordering on life-changing, and I ended up with a lot to say. This post is sort of the introduction to a series of posts directly or indirectly inspired by Born to Run. As they’re finished I’ll be linking them here.

The book is filled with quotable passages, but this from chapter 27 (page 213) really stuck with me because it mirrors my own experience:

“Because I was eating lighter and hadn’t been laid up once by injury, I was able to run more; because I was running more, I was sleeping great, feeling relaxed, and watching my resting heart rate drop. My personality had even changed: The grouchiness and temper I’d considered part of my Irish-Italian DNA had ebbed so much that my wife remarked, “Hey if this comes from ultrarunning, I’ll tie your shoes for you.” I knew that aerobic exercise was a powerful antidepressant, but I hadn’t realized it could be so profoundly mood stabilizing and–I had to use the word–meditative.” (page 212)

The ideas and stories in Born to Run have inspired me to run farther and much more often. As a result, I’m feeling great, physically and emotionally and genuinely enjoying all of it.