Born to Run

Now here was a fascinating book! Read in the Summer of 2022.

The author (from Philadelphia! bonus points from me) starts from a place of physical pain, and ends up running distances longer than a marathon.

"Nelson Mandela...even in prison, continued to run seven miles a day in place in his cell."

“Don't fight the trail," Caballo called back over his shoulder. “Tate what if gives you If you have a choice between one step or two between rocks, take three:" Caballo has spent so many years navigating in the trails, he's even nicknamed the stones beneath his felt…. "Lesson two," Caballo called. "Think Easy, Light, Smooth, and Fast. You start with easy, because if that's all you get, that's not so bad. Then work on light. Make it effortless, like you don't give a shit how high the hill is or how far you've got to go. When you've practiced that so long that you forget you're practicing, you work on making it smoooooth. You won't have to worry about the last one-you get those three, and you'll be fast." I kept my eyes on Caballo's sandaled feet, trying to duplicate his odd, sort of tippy-toeing steps. I had my head down so long, I didn't notice at first that we'd left the forest. "Wow!' I exclaimed. The sun was just rising over the Sierras. Pine smoke scented the air, rising from dented stovepipes in the lodge-pole shacks on the edge of town. In the distance, giant standing stones like Faster Island statues reared from the mesa floor, with snow-dusted mountains in the background. Even if I hadn't been sucking wind, I'd have been breathless. "I told ya," Micah gloated.

"According to our findings, currently available sports shoes ... are too soft and thick, and should be redesigned if they are to protect humans performing sports." Until reading this study, I'd been mystified by an experience I'd had at the Running Injury Clinic. I'd run back and forth over a force plate while alternating between bare feet, a superthin shoe, and the well-cushioned Nike Pegasus. Whenever I changed shoes, the impact levels changed as well--but not the way I'd expected. My impact forces were lightest in bare feet, and heaviest in the Pegs. My running form also varied: when I changed footwear, I instinctively changed my footfall. "You're much more of a heel striker in the Pegasus," Dr. Irene Davis concluded.

Dr. Bramble, meanwhile, was working a little higher up the evolu- tionary ladder with bigcats. He discovered that when many quadrupeds run, their internal organs slosh back and forth like water in a bathtub. Every time a cheetah's front feet hit the ground, its guts slam forward into the lungs, forcing out air. When it reaches out for the next stride, its innards slide rearward, sucking air back in. Adding that extra punch to their lung power, though, comes at a cost: it lim- its cheetahs to just one breath per stride. Actually, Dr. Bramble was surprised to find that all running mam- mals are restricted to the same cycle of take-a-step, take-a-breath. In the entire world, he and David could only find one exception:
"When quadrupeds run, they get stuck in a one-breath-per- locomotion cycle," Dr. Bramble said. "But the human runners we tested never went one to one. They could pick from a number of dif- ferent ratios, and generally preferred two to one." The reason we're free to pant to our heart's content is the same reason you need a shower on a summer day: we're the only mammals that shed most of our heat by sweating. All the pelt-covered creatures in the world cool off primarily by breathing, which locks their entire hear-regulating system to their lungs. But humans, with our millions of sweat glands, are the best air-cooled engine that evolution has ever put on the market.

Epilogue There is an article in the New York Times about the death of a main character in this book.

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