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Old 09-24-2009, 08:00   #1
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Born to Run

I just finished reading this new, best-selling book, "Born to Run". I found the book absolutely fascinating.
My reason for this thread is this: As an old guy, who has covered thousands of miles in either jungle boots or running shoes purchased from the PX, I have had ingrained the idea that one must run fast. This author, writing about these freaky ultra-marathon types, proclaims just the opposite view: Run slow, barefoot, for long distances, and one will be in better shape, less injured, and happier.
Curious as to whether anybody has any experience as to this author's subject. (I wish I would have had a copy of the book to give to some of those fast old farts who drug us on speed runs in the Q Course and R.I.P.).
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Old 09-24-2009, 16:41   #2
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Genetics, Training and Performance

"Born to Run:...." is referring to a specific group of people, the Tarahumara, in Mexico, correct? I have never read the book, but I have read about them in several magazine articles, which only means I am aware of them. Because these abilities seem to be limited to one specific group I have to ask if its genetic related or training related. Certainly their ability has to do with both, which is no different than anyother human being's physical ability. Attached is an article posing a question about genetics and running performance, specifically targeting African runners who have found great success in distance events. Basically it points out that we have no way to prove a genetic connection to performance because we havn't identified the related gene YET, but when we look at their training, its different than what most countries are doing.

IMHO, slow distance running is a good thing and can be done if speed is not needed. But, if speed is needed (ie. hitting a deadline, 3-5 second rush, etc) speed training absolutely has to be part of the program.

Much of the research I have read about overtraining injuries has been connected to greater distances ran per week, especially in runners who progressed in mileage too aggressively. There were other factors as well, but distance seems to be the focus in this discussion. Certainly, running barefoot will increase the likelihood of injury. The author suggesting that "running slow, barefoot, for long distances and one will be in better shape, less injured, and happier" is a loaded statement, I believe. Does the book go into detail about their nutritional habits, cultural lifestyle, training, etc? I can guarantee if the majority of Americans up and tried running "slow, barefoot, for long distance" they would be quite the opposite of healthy and happy.

The Tarahumara are obviously extremely gifted endurance athletes and whatever they are doing to training is working for them. Does the book talk at all about how they train? What age do they start? How do they progress?

Just my opinion....


Note: the attached article was sent to me through email. Unfortunately, I am not sure of its source, but thought it interesting considering the discussion.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Genetics and Performance.pdf (32.7 KB, 44 views)

Last edited by MILON; 09-24-2009 at 16:44.
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Old 09-24-2009, 18:34   #3
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Agree with Milon.

Here is a case of genetics/evolution in higher altitudes.
As I recall these are people of higer regions, lower Andes, I think.
I doubt running bare foot to be very beneficial, as these probably start in early youth walking bare foot, and have soles of their feet akin to tire tread. My guess.
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Old 09-25-2009, 09:11   #4
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The Tarahumara are obviously extremely gifted endurance athletes and whatever they are doing to training is working for them. Does the book talk at all about how they train? What age do they start? How do they progress?

Just my opinion....


The author does a pretty good job of discussing training, genetics, a lot concerning evolution(not on a theological level). It seemed that their training began when they were young, and consisted of running very long distances in flat-soled sandals, as well as playing some long-distance field hockey-esque game.
At first blush, the barefoot thing sounded ridiculous. But after hearing the rationale, it started making more sense. One guy in the book(white american) ran an ultra in mexico barefoot(makes me cringe thinking about it). It sounds like a lot of folks are starting to do some barefoot stuff mixed in with other training, i.e. running on a football field for a couple miles a week.
Nonetheless, it was a fascinating book. As an oversized hillbilly/former road-marcher and runner, it was interesting to read about the outstanding engineering that goes into a human body
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Old 09-25-2009, 09:34   #5
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Along this same topic, another good book I read on running which after running with the more is always better mindset for the past 20 years...floored me...

"Run Less Run Faster"

I followed their guidelines and set a new PR for the 1/2 marathon, my best time was almost 14 years ago...

It challenged my whole view on running.....

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Old 09-25-2009, 11:27   #6
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Consider this.....

Learning as much as you can about physical training is vital for people who live and die, at least in part, by their physical ability and capacity. Reading books is a great way to learn and I could list off several books I would recommend to anyone wanting to learn about training. However, we need to remember how fast pace the field of human performance is in regard to what we know. Even the workings of the muscle (Sliding Filament Theory) is only a theory. Many of the books out there have elements that are outdated by the time the book hits the stores. This does not mean the information in them isnt valuable and you shouldn't purchase them. But, I think reading the current research is just as important as reading books.

Using Ebsco Host, Google Scholar, Pub Med, etc are great ways to get current resources. I would also suggest limiting your search to peer reviewed articles within the last 5-10 years. This will help keep the information gathered more reliable and up-to-date. As a warning, research articles CAN be extremely boring to read unless your very interested in the material. Certain sections of the article may be more important to you if you dont care to read the article critically. Another focus may be Review articles because they research a variety of articles, condense the information and produce recommendations based on the information they found. Very helpful.

If you have never used some of these search engines, here a couple links:

AKO has access to ebsco host and a variety of other search engines through My Library.

I realize this is getting away from the running focus of the thread, but IMO its something we need to think about.

With regards to running, testedone, I think if you do some reseach as mentioned above you'll find that there is much supporting the type of training that helped you. Glad its working for you!


Last edited by MILON; 09-25-2009 at 13:20.
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Old 09-25-2009, 12:05   #7
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From the Times:
QUINTUS: People should know when they're conquered.
MAXIMUS: Would you Quintus? Would I?
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Old 09-25-2009, 14:08   #8
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related to article posted earlier:

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Old 09-25-2009, 17:56   #9
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Originally Posted by Costa View Post
I haven't done much research to credit or discredit the article, but I just want folks to keep in mind that it's from 1996 and more than a decade old
"we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope" Rom. 5:3-4

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Old 09-25-2009, 19:50   #10
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I haven't done much research to credit or discredit the article, but I just want folks to keep in mind that it's from 1996 and more than a decade old
So is Dozer... and his pulse-taking methods! (Neener, neener, neener - yourself! )
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Old 09-27-2009, 14:36   #11
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Stu Mittleman and Dr. Philip Maffetone have had a similar training regiment that seemed to work decently for me, and extremely well for Mittleman in particular. Mittleman was/is the world record holder for the 1,000 mile run, which he accomplished in 11 days and 20 hours. These concepts are covered in their books, as well as Warrior-Mentor's Get Selected. The basic gist is that you run in your aerobic mode only, which you can measure by perceived effort or by heart rate zones. Don't dip into anaerobic and build up lactic acid. It teaches your body to burn fat reserves for your main source of energy instead of glucose. Eventually, you'll be running at a pace that is noticeably faster than when you started, at the same perceived effort or heart rate.

They don't promote actual bare foot running, but do suggest you wear very oversized running shoes, as your foot flattens and spreads out during distance running.

Last edited by SF0; 09-27-2009 at 14:38.
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Old 09-27-2009, 15:52   #12
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I think the purpose of this book is not just to demonstrate the prowess of the Tarahumara Indians, but to address the issue of "natural running", running injuries, and running as a way of life. It is a very inspiring book, and encourages running barefoot to reduce injuries and to take advantage of God-engineered anatomical features that we negate with our own compensated engineering in the form of expensive running shoes.

One option for running barefoot are Vibram's relatively new "Five Fingers". They look strange, but they work. http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/

A friend of mine wrote a review about this book. I've taken the liberty of posting part of it below. You can find his full review at http://www.michaelhyatt.com/

"McDougall begins his book with the question that almost all recreational runners inevitably ask, “Why does my foot hurt?” I have personally suffered through bouts of plantar fasciitis and a pulled Achilles tendon. What I didn’t realize until I read this book is that 70% of all recreational runners will experience at least one running injury every year.

In McDougall’s case, his doctors told him he should stop running. According to them, he wasn’t really built for the sport and should consider doing something else to stay in shape. He didn’t really like that answer, so he embarked on a quest to see if he couldn’t solve his problem.

Over the next several months, he interviewed endurance runners, sports physiologists, and even anthropologists. He also discovered the Tarahumara Indians of northern Mexico’s Copper Canyon. These indigenous people are renown for their ability to run long distances—often 50–200 miles at a time! It is not unusual for them to run into old age, some even running into their nineties. Yet, they rarely experience running injuries and seem to love traversing extreme terrain.

In stark contrast, he took an objective look at modern runners and, in particular, the modern running industry. What he discovers is startling. For example:

- 25% of all the bones in your body are in your foot. It is an engineering marvel, unrivaled in the animal world.
- Running injuries were essentially unknown until the invention of the modern running shoe in 1972.
- Not only is there a direct correlation between running shoes and running injuries, the more expensive the shoe, the more likely you will be injured."
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Old 10-13-2010, 12:24   #13
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author interview

I found this lecture/Q&A session from the author of born to run. It's kind of long at an hour but it gets really interesting, especially when he talks about proper running techniques and humans pack hunting by running prey to death.
definitly worth watching if you have the time and are interested in the barefoot running craze and ultra distances.

also on another note he talks about a chick named Jenn Shelton who is a badass ultra runner. The first race she ever ran was like fifty miles, she thinks that marathons are so silly for runners that to prove her point she's run them in string bikini's and drank beer along the way and still smoked men's times.

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Old 02-06-2011, 22:58   #14
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olhamada, your pretty brave for that post.

There is a lot of unfounded,downright hate for 5 fingers shoes and the minimalist movement in this forum. A lot of them, training for their last fight has come and gone, and they don't want to know what they don't know.

A lot have and do cast 5 fingers as nothing but a fad offshoot of crossfit(you know,another fad), something for hippy rock climbers to wear with their hemp jewelry. A few have questioned the function of the shoe, but most get stuck on the aesthetics, and never move past that. I would hate to think the company here treat PT as a function of fashion.

I'll never call anyone out here, bc it's not my place, but it's their training, not mine. Have fun with those marshmellow shoes.

Bottom line is, I've not found one article written by anybody, professional or joe, that argues against barefoot. On the contrary, many people with B.A.'s and M.D.'s are saying this is how it should have been all along.
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Old 02-06-2011, 23:16   #15
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I picked up a copy of 4 months to a 4 hour Marathon by David Kuehls.
His focus is developing endurance followed by stamina and finally speed.
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