Category Archives: Legends

Book Review: Born to Run

Born to Run Cover

If you’ve not heard of the best-selling book Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen you might be want to double check that you are a runner with a network of runners.  It seems every runner on the web has written or talked about Born to Run, so why not me?

Well I haven’t really wanted to spend the money and who wants to be part of a fad? That all changed a few weeks ago.  We had some time to kill and decided to go to a book store.  We were already in Uptown so we checked out Magers & Quinn, a great Minneapolis treasure. I walked out with four books, all purchased below their market price.  Born to Run was the only new book, the rest were used.

I was getting bored by the other book I was reading and wasn’t sure if I’d make it through the 282 pages with only 2 weeks left in the month.  Well, I was pleasantly surprised that the book was a super-easy read and I finished it with time to spare in March.  I was prepared for a book like Bill Bryson’s Walk in the Woods where it was story mixed in with a lot of random facts/rabbit trails/personal issues.  McDougall’s is almost all story.  Much of what I had heard about the book led me to believe it would be a treatise on barefoot running and a lot of research to back up that perspective.

It is actually pretty late (chapter 25 page 168) in the book before McDougall really starts to present any heavy research and opinions on barefoot running.  And it does make you think.  For obvious reasons I really liked this quote on pg 201:

Once PF [plantar fasciitis] sinks its fangs into your heels, you’re in danger of being infected for life. Check any running-related message board, and you’re guaranteed to find a bunch of beseeching threads from PF sufferers begging for a cure. Everyone is quick to suggest the same remedies – night splints, elastic socks, ultrasounds, electroshock, cortisone, orthodics – but the messages keep coming because none of them really seems to work.

Isn’t that great! Most of the book is about the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico and how they run for days eating only pinole and wearing thin pieces of rubber (known as Huaraches) and never seem to get hurt.  In fact when some of them receive and start wearing running shoes they ended up getting hurt shortly thereafter.  The main emphasis of the book is a race held in Mexico in which Scott Jurek, Barefoot Ted, and a few not so famous runners take on the adventure and challenge of a 50 mile trail race against the Tarahumara’s best runners.  I won’t tell you the ending!  The book spends a lot of time providing the back story for each of the runners and how the Tarahumara became known in the US running world.

McDougall also takes a section of his book to look at the evolution of man and how we evolved into runners.  This quote made me laugh (pg 243):

To be fair, our brain knew what it was talking about for 99 percent of our history; sitting around was a luxury, so when you had the chance to rest and recover, you grabbed it. Only recently have we come up with technology to turn lazing around into a way of life; we’ve taken our sinewy, durable, hunter-gather bodies and plunked them into an artificial world of leisure.
So with that I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of Born to Run, it alone may not convince or me to go barefoot but it is an excellent story about “A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen”
If you’ve read the book what are your thoughts on it?  Would you rather borrow mine instead of purchasing it?
[tags] book review, Born to Run, barefoot, barefoot running [/tags]
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A New Favorite Quote

Mississippi & Minnesota Rivers
Image by crossn81 via Flickr

This quote gives me and my Minnesota brethren hope! Well and I guess anyone who runs through the winter!

There is a great advantage in training under unfavorable conditions. It is better to train under bad conditions, for the difference is then a tremendous relief in a race. – Emil Zatopek

From Runner’s World’s Quote of the day (aka 101 Kicks in the Butt).

The quote is extra special on a day like today:

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Elite Running Cookbook

Ever wonder what Deena Kastor cooks at home? Did you see her cooking during the Spirit of the Marathon and want to know how to make the dish? Well, now is your chance as Alison Wade recently published a cookbook, the proceeds of which go to two Foundations dear to many a runner’s heart.

From the book’s website:

The Runner’s Cookbook features 100 recipes from 90+ contributors, including Joan Benoit Samuelson, Sebastian Coe, Shalane Flanagan, Adam and Kara Goucher, Ryan and Sara Hall, Deena Kastor, Craig Mottram, Dathan Ritzenhein, Khadevis Robinson, Alan Webb, and many others. All of the proceeds from the sales of this book will be donated to the Ryan Shay Memorial Fund and the Jenny Crain “Make It Happen” Fund.

Details about the two memorial funds is also available but here is a synopsis:

Jenny Crain, a popular member of the professional running community, suffered serious head and neck injuries after being hit by a car while training in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 21, 2007. Half of the proceeds from this cookbook will go to the Jenny Crain “Make It Happen” Fund, to help Crain and her family with her continued care, treatment, and recovery.

On November 3, 2007, five-and-a-half miles into the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials — Men’s Marathon in New York City, Shay collapsed and died suddenly, due to a heart condition. It was an event that shocked and deeply saddened the entire running community.

Half of the proceeds from this cookbook will go to the Ryan Shay Memorial Fund, to help Shay’s family undertake special projects in his memory.

The Runner’s Cookbook: Winning Recipes from Some of the World’s Best Athletes was compiled and edited by Alison Wade. Wade is the current editor of and the former editor of the now-defunct web sites, and

[tags] Cookbook, Shay, Crain, Elite Running [/tags]

HT: Runnerville

Shay’s Autopsy Released

Ryan Shay, 28, who died tragically last fall during the Men’s Olympic Marathon Trials, died of natural causes.

From the New York Times:

More than four months after Shay’s death, the medical examiner completed the autopsy and toxicology reports, describing his condition as “cardiac arrhythmia due to cardiac hypertrophy with patchy fibrosis of undetermined etiology.”

All of his toxicology reports came back negative. He had previously been diagnosed with an enlarged heart, which may have been a factor in his death. Shay was an accomplished marathoner with a 2:14 PR.

My wife an RN said this:

His heart had a bad rhythm because his heart was enlarged due to an unknown tissue or something.

I am not a doctor but here are definitions from around the web for each phrase of the report:

Cardiac Arrhthmia – a term for any of a large and heterogenous group of conditions in which there is abnormal electrical activity in the heart. The heart beat may be too fast or too slow, and may be regular or irregular.

Cardiac Hypertrophy – is a thickening of the heart muscle (myocardium) which results in a decrease in size of the chamber of the heart, including the left and right ventricles. A common cause of cardiac hypertrophy is high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart valve stenosis.

Fibrosis – is the formation or development of excess fibrous connective tissue in an organ or tissue as a reparative or reactive process, as opposed to a formation of fibrous tissue as a normal constituent of an organ or tissue.

Patchy Fibrosis just means that there was excess tissue growing in patches around the organ – in this case the heart.

Eitiology – is the study of causes

Undetermined Eitiology would just mean of an unknown cause.

It is good to finally know what happened to Shay.  Our thoughts and prayers are still with the entire family and the elite running community as they mourn his loss.

HT: The Final Sprint

Jesse Owens: A MLK Day Tribute

“We all have dreams. In order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort.” – Jesse Owens

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a champion of social justice and equality. He stood for freedom for all and was most famous for his “I have a dream” speech. He didn’t live to see his dream fulfilled and we still have a long way to go for true equality. So in honor of King and his legacy I’m dedicating this post to Jesse Owens and the many other athletes who have overcome great hardship on their way to greatness.

Born in 1913 to a sharecropper family, Owens is best known for winning 4 Gold Medals at the 1936 Olympic games. Winning the 100, 200, Long Jump, and being in the 4×100 relay at the Berlin Games it is custom for the leader of the host country to greet the athletes, however, Adolf Hitler refused to shake hands with the “black” athletes. Oddly, Owens felt that FDR acted in a more racist way by not honoring or even congratulating Owens. It wasn’t until 1955, that Owens received any presidential recognition by Dwight Eisenhower.

The Owens family moved to Cleveland where they struggled to make a living. Jesse did odd jobs and found a passion for running. Jesse first hit the spotlight in high school when he met the world record time of 9.4 seconds in the 100m dash and long jumped 24 feet 9 1/2 inches. Jesse attended The Ohio State University, where he became known as the “Buckeye Bullet”. Even as an acclaimed athlete at OSU he had to live off campus with other African-American athletes. When he traveled with the team, Owens could either order carry out or eat at “black-only” restaurants. Likewise, he slept in “black-only” hotels. Owens was never awarded a scholarship, so he continued to work part-time jobs to pay for school. In one meet in 1935 Owens broke 3 world records and tied a 4th, which was named as the most impressive sports achievement since 1850.

From his website:

In 1976, Jesse was awarded the highest honor a civilian of the United States can receive. President Gerald R. Ford awarded him with the Medal of Freedom. Jesse overcame segregation, racism and bigotry to prove to the world that African-Americans belonged in the world of athletics.

An amazing “Rags to Riches” story, Owens took his fame and later fortune and turned it back into something good. After struggling financially, despite his successes, he began speaking around the country and created his own public relations firm. During his speaking engagements he stressed the importance of religion, hard work and loyalty. He also sponsored and participated in many youth sports programs in underprivileged neighborhoods. The Jesse Owens Foundation was started in 1980 to honor Jesse’s hard work by his friends and family. JOF is designed to promote youth development with its stated mission “to promote the development of youth to their fullest potential.”

Owens died in 1980 at the age of 66 from lung cancer. It is hard to say exactly how much impact Owens had on race relations in the US and around the world, but it seems pretty clear he was a first-glass guy who cared about his family, running, and using his gifts to serve his community.

Sources: Wikipedia Jesse Owens Foundation

Weekend Workout

It was a bitter cold weekend here in Minneapolis with the high temperatues not breaking the 0 mark. I ran 4.97 Friday at a local park on trails. They had been groomed and packed down so it was a really nice run experience. It was 1 above with a -21 wind chill so I was well-layered and stayed pretty warm. The sun was out nice and shiny so that made for a great run. It was a little slow due to the hills and cold I finished in 45:20. I didn’t run Saturday, the running group was canceled due to double digit below zero temperatures and I felt it probably wasn’t a good idea, it never broke into positive temperatures. Sunday we ran at the gym on a treadmill. I did 6.14 in 48:26. I hate treadmills and running indoors! I did through in some surges and they felt very nice!

[tags] Jesse Owens, Olympics, MLK Day [/tags]