Oct 11, 2015

Born to Run?

I just finished reading Christopher McDougall's book 'Born to Run'. The author, who himself is an accomplished marathoner, delves into the world of running and gives an inspiring and thrilling account of an ultra running tribe in Mexico, while also introducing the readers to the American ultra running super humans. The book also explores Running from a philosophical and evolutionary viewpoint that fascinated me the most.

The author argues that running played a huge role in our evolution to become the dominant species on planet Earth. We human beings are built to run long distances, the author says. Man perfected the art of Persistence Hunting - a hunting tactic where all you do is chase animals till they collapse from exhaustion and die - that enabled him to move from thick forests to the open grasslands of Africa and colonize newer territories. This gave us homo-sapiens an evolutionary advantage over other similar species of our family such as Neanderthals, that were supposedly bigger, stronger and intellectually superior.

The book gives an inspiring account of present day American ultra runners to whom, running a marathon (26.2 miles) is like a walk down the neighborhood. These are the runners that train for, and compete in 100-mile events! The lengths that these elite athletes run and the amount of suffering and pain that they endure borders craziness. It sure left me confused about whether to draw inspiration from them or to be glad that my sanity levels are far far away from theirs.

Could running be a way of life? I find it a little too much to swallow. While it sure could be all that I need to do to stay healthy and fit, it is hard for me to imagine running meeting my mental, intellectual and spiritual needs. Yet, the characters the author introduces to the readers are the kind for whom running is the means and running is the end. They find their bliss while running up a mountaintop in freezing cold, and their Nirvana as they drag their feet through desolate deserts under the boiling Sun. It would've been great if I could experience such rush of happiness/contentment just for once. If only I could get through the burning pain of lactic acid buildup in my legs after running a few miles. Maybe I just need better shoes :)

What running definitely is to me, is that it is a great stress buster and the time to think over and re prioritize things that are important to me. It has been during my lonely runs that I've decided to stop getting wasted on social media sites and spend more time reading books. During one of my recent runs, I pondered over the amount of time I spend reading the daily news and the value that it is adding to my life. That helped me decide on drastically cutting down my newspaper reading time, which is now down from 45-50 minutes to 5-10 minutes. Oh, and running is the perfect time for me to further strengthen my recall-speed of Blackjack basic strategy tables :)

An engaging book that I wanted to read for a long time now. Surely something I'll pick up again for a fresh round of perspectives if at all I someday get closer to my dream of running a marathon. 

1 comment :

  1. Nice post! Good to see you getting back to writing :)