i have never considered reading books about running until recently. as “luck” would have it, the first two running books that i’ve chosen from our local library have been written by “ultrarunners.”
now, i’m no spring chicken, and i do love to run, but i will never, ever, EVER be an ultrarunner. and i can very comfortably say that and know that the “never say never” phrase does not apply here. i am saying never because it’s totally NOT going to happen. an ultrarunner does races that are 50, 100 or even 150 miles long. that’s just plain NUTS.
but back to these books written by ultrarunners. they are surprisingly inspiring and encouraging, and after reading a chapter or two in the evenings, i’m ready to get out in the morning and just run. but on my level…on the level of a beginning runner. i feel as though i’m always going to be a beginning runner. in 10 years, i’ll be turning 50 and i’ll be still running my 5Ks, but my legs will be runners legs, and my lungs and heart will be strong. and i’ll have dessert more than once in a while and drink my favorite chardonnays in the summer, red zins in the winter and not feel guilty. i don’t have to wake up and 10-15 miles a day, 25-30 miles on the weekend. i just run to feel better about the daily grind.
Christopher McDougall and Scott Jarek are the authors of the two books that I have been reading over the past few weeks. Born to Run and Eat and Run sounded like such innocent books about how to embrace your new love of running. And although I do find inspiration and encouragement after reading them, I also feel a bit like a…slacker after I end my morning runs at 2 miles long. The first author traveled to Mexico to find the secret of the Mexican Tarahumara Indians who run miles and miles each week and do not suffer running injuries that those of us in the West do – in our joints, muscles, feet. He discovered that the secret to injury-free running is learning to run long distance virtually barefoot, or with thin strappy sandals. His premise is that our expensive, supportive running shoes (he wasn’t shy in mentioning Nike as the biggest culprit) are harming us way more than supporting us. They are allowing us to run improperly, therefore causing more injuries. Running barefoot allows our foot to fall where it needs to in order to properly support our bodies in running. I thought he made a great point. And after the book, I was ready to go buy Vibram five-fingers running shoes..
I’m nearing the end of Eat and Run and Scott Jarek is convincing me that I need to change my diet from animal-based to plant-based only. He has found that his running ultramarathons (like the Western States 100), have improved exponentially as he has gone from a typical western diet (lots of animal protein) to a plant-only based diet. He dabbled in raw-eating but found that too difficult to maintain his caloric intake as he ran great distances on a weekly basis.
I’m glad I’m not an ultrarunner, otherwise I’d be a barefoot-running vegan starting tomorrow.
And I don’t think I could keep up that gig for long.
I’ll keep to my enjoyable runs as the seasons change around me…taking a half hour to an hour every other day and just running for fun. These guys have to spend hours each day just to keep up their ultrarunning ability.
And while they are completely admirable and totally the best of the best athletes out there…that’s just NUTS!