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Born to Run

As if the staff of The Onion took over The New York Times, Christopher McDougall's book Born to Run includes reams of rather entertaining stories, some of which might be partially true. The author doesn't seem to have a skeptical neuron in his brain. His writing is a cocktail of testosterone and adrenaline—fun if you suspend all critical faculties and ride the roller-coaster of prose. He's dead wrong on things that I know a bit about, e.g., at the end of Chapter 13: no, the Queen's Gambit opening in chess does not involve a queen sacrifice, and no, a Queen's Gambit wasn't even played in Karpov-Kasparov 1990; the queen sac alluded to was in Game 3, 15-16 Oct 1990, and led ultimately to a draw. See [1] for the original article that McDougall garbles for drama.

But why should pallid facts interfere with a ripping yarn? Why bother differentiating between anecdote and evidence? If one person tries something and it works, that's good enough, eh?! Beware following any advice McDougall offers about training, shoes, gait, race tactics, or other aspects of running. The first line of Chapter 6 is a synopsis of Born to Run: "What a con job." Best read with beer.

^z - 2010-05-27