Christopher McDougall Offers Insights on Running, Caballo Blanco at Penn Museum

He is by no means an elite runner.  He certainly has not invented any revolutionary running technique.  And he most definitely did not engineer any brand new running shoes.  Still, the name of Christopher McDougall is very well known among both recreational and professional running circles.

McDougall, of course, is the author of the 2009 best seller, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen.  The book sent waves in the running world for its description of the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico and their exploits as some of the world’s best long distance runners.  Soon after publication, Born to Run inspired numerous folks to give barefoot running or minimalist shoes a try.

In honor of the Penn Museum’s current photo exhibition “Run! Super-Athletes of the Sierra Madre,” McDougall stopped by the museum on Wednesday night for a lecture and book signing in front of a sizable audience.  The timing of his speech was especially notable due to the recent passing of Micah True, also known as “Caballo Blanco,” who was the central character of Born to Run.

Not surprisingly, McDougall spent much of his hour long lecture discussing his old friend, including how he initially met Caballo Blanco while researching the story on the Tarahumara.  When McDougall was getting nowhere in trying to convince any of the reclusive natives to talk, he was referred to True, who provided him with insights into the Tarahumara world.

 

 

Among the notable quips that McDougall offered was the primary difference in how many of us mainstream runners go about running as opposed to how the Tarahumara do.  Our running is all about ourselves, and we are focused on our watches.  There are a countless number of different and unique running styles that we exhibit in races.  Meanwhile, the Tarahumara approach running with a view towards community.  In their activities, they know that they are only as fast as their slowest member.  They also do not worry about running a specific distance or for a specific time or speed.  Additionally, McDougall described the Tarahumara as having the same easy running style and motion.  Because they run either barefoot or with a thin layer of a sandal, the Tarahumara all run with forefoot strikes, rather than the heel strike so prevalent among runners with cushioned shoes.

McDougall’s stories were certainly entertaining.  I don’t necessarily agree with a lot of his running philosophy that he has adopted from the Tarahumara, as I am substantially focused on times and distance.  Still, as McDougall noted, the Tarahumara have survived for hundreds of years without wars, disease, violence and other  problems that dog modern society.  So they must be doing something right.

McDougall’s stories were certainly entertaining.  I don’t necessarily agree with a lot of his running philosophy that he has adopted from the Tarahumara, as I am substantially focused on times and distance.  Still, as McDougall noted, the Tarahumara have survived for hundreds of years without wars, disease, violence and other  problems that dog modern society.  So they must be doing something right.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s