When I turned 40, it wasn’t a big deal. I felt good, younger than my calendar age. Sure I had some arthritis in my knee. Yes, I had problems with swelling in my wrists, the start of carpal tunnel syndrome, but I learned to adapt to the changes in my body. I got some wrist braces, wore them at night, and ate Ibuprofen like it was candy.
Fast forward a few years and now I’m IN my forties. I had some changes in my career. I slowed down. I gained weight. I started to feel old, really OLD. Older than I’ve ever felt. I’ve struggled with depression on and off for most of my life, but it was getting worse. I just didn’t feel like ME anymore. It’s like this frumpy stranger had sidled on in and took control of my life. I knew this wasn’t good, but I didn’t know what to do. I knew I needed to make some changes. I need to take care of my health. I stopped taking Ibuprofen and started looking for long-term solutions.
It’s funny how the universe works. When you’re open to change, you see opportunities. Stuff that was already there, stuff you probably ignored, presents itself to you in bizarre ways. About a year and a few months ago, I join my library’s book club. My own writing wasn’t going anywhere, but I’ve always loved words and books. I thought it would be a good way to meet other people—grownup people—who love reading as much as I do.
When you join a book club, you learn that there are MANY different styles of writing. You’re exposed to stories you wouldn’t even glance at. That’s how I was introduced to an author I’d never heard of before, Christopher McDougall, and his book Born to Run.
Now, I am NOT a runner. Never have been. I’m overweight with a bad knee. Physically, I’ve never felt like I was born with ANY athletic genes. Why would I want to read a book about people who like running?
The cover of this book doesn’t do anything for me. It looks a bit amateurish for something traditionally published by Random House. Was this done on purpose? Maybe? The picture is fine. The font looks like something my kiddo might do on his computer.
So already, this poor novel had two strikes against it. However, this book was picked as the Community Read in my area for 2016, therefore it was also on my book club’s list for 2016. It’s not like I HAD to read it, but I enjoy going to book club, so…I figured at least I’d get entertainment value by complaining about it at the next meeting. (Yes, I went into this book with a sour attitude. Even the BEST books don’t stand a chance with that much pressure on them.)
I put off reading this book until the last possible moment and found…
I LOVE this book!
Who knew? (Probably those crazy librarians who picked this book for our community read, that’s who!) This true story was well-written. The people mentioned in this book came alive for me. I think I looked up every “character”—from “Barefoot Ted” to “La Brujita.” This isn’t a book about running technique. (Although, I did learn a little about that as well.) It’s about everyday people doing what seems to be impossible. It’s about not giving up.
We start with the injured author’s simple question: Why does his foot hurt? From there, we are led on a crazy adventure as the author meets with some of the greatest long distance runners in the world. This book jumps back and forth a bit with science and history mingling with the author’s personal journey, and finally ending with a “lost” tribe of runners in Mexico.
I have to say, I finished this book feeling inspired! Maybe I can’t see myself EVER running in a 50 mile race through the mountains, but it did teach me to how to change my stride when walking, CHANGE MY SHOES, and get my tush outside. Did this book “fix” my knee? Not exactly, but I walk differently than I did before, which strengthened all the muscles in my feet and legs, and THAT would not have happened if I hadn’t read this book. My knee feels better today than it did 10+ years ago and I’m no longer taking ANY medication for pain. Going up and down stairs was terrible before, especially if I was carrying groceries. Now, I can bounce up and down the stairs, no problem. Even WITH the extra pounds I gained. Again, this book isn’t a How to book, but learned a great deal from this author. I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity to read his story. Thank you Christopher McDougall!