Christopher McDougall is largely responsible for the recent boom in natural running. In Born to Run he inspired legions of runners to think ‘minimally’ (take that however you like) about their running shoes. More than that, his fantastical tales of the mysterious Caballo Blanco and the ultra-running Tarahumara tribe helped motivate me, and many others, to get off the couch and start running.
In his latest book, Natural Born Heroes, McDougall will once again entertain you with engaging characters, wonderfully unlikely stories of heroism and athleticism, and new ideas to challenge what you know about endurance training and good nutrition. The story begins on the German-occupied island of Crete during World War II, where a band of unlikely heroes was able to capture a Nazi general (Heinrich Kreipe) and disappear without firing a single shot. Natural Born Heroes is a true story of international espionage, survival, and intrigue with a healthy dose of exercise science.
McDougall’s heroes must adapt to the harsh natural landscape and learn how to bounce, crawl, leap, and skip like Cretans if they are to survive. As they climb, jump, and run they must rely on the elastic recoil of their fascia, not the just the repetitive contractions of their tired muscles. Overnight runs up and over mountains are fueled by the body’s natural fat reserves. If they’re lucky, they may fuel their efforts with boiled hay, a handful of olives and a raw onion.
McDougall leaves the 1940’s and investigates relevant topics along the way. He visits a young mother in London (Shirley Darlington) who teaches Parkour, to gain insight on the value of natural movement and useful fitness. He explores fascinating advances in medicine that show how powerful and complex our muscle fascia really is. And, he touches on the growing popularity of obstacle racing and the innate desire people have to acquire useful fitness.
As a history major and a runner, I found this book to be an interesting read. I am always fascinated by the misfits and oddballs that suddenly transform into heroes during crisis. As a runner, Natural Born Heroes opened my eyes to the importance of being a well-rounded athlete. I even thought of my slow 12-mile run last weekend as fascia training. You’ll see what I mean if you read the book.