Bernd Heinrich: Why We Run


Heinrich, Bernd. Why We Run: A Natural History (New York: HarperCollins, 2001)

Reading Born to Run inspired me to dig into the evolutionary aspects of our running heritage, and Why We Run by Bernd Heinrich leapt to the front of the line. Heinrich writes a "natural history" of running, discussing the long-distance traveling abilities of various insects, migratory birds, antelopes, camels, and frogs en route to his own victory in a 100K race in Chicago

The first 40 pages are somewhat of a chore, but the remainder of the book--especially the last three chapters, where Heinrich describes his race preparation as well as the race itself--make Why We Run more than worthwhile. He ties together many strands of biology and anthropology, and does so quite amazingly. Here is my Quote of the Day:

A race is like a chase. Finishing a marathon, setting a record, making a scientific discovery, creating a great work of art--all, I believe, are substitute chases we submit to that require, and exhibit, the psychological tools of an endurance predator, both to do and to evaluate. When fifty thousand people line up to race a marathon, or two dozen high schoolers toe the line for a cross-country race, they are enacting a symbolic communal hunt, to be first at the kill, or at least to take part in it. (p. 184)

Heinrich's Why We Run can inspire the runner in all of us--no matter how distant a memory that most recent romp may have been.


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