Book Review- Born to Run 2. The Ultimate Training Guide by Christopher McDougall and Eric Orton

When I heard Born to Run 2 was coming out, I was excited to get my hands on a copy. I had read Born to Run when it came out more than a decade ago and loved the stories and characters in that book. For anyone who hasn’t read Born to Run, it’s more of a story about the Tarahumara people who live deep in the canyons of Mexico and who run seemingly effortless in flimsy sandals. The book spawned the enormous barefoot running industry. I’m surely not doing the book justice because that wasn’t the author’s intention and there’s much more to it than the involvement of shoes, so if you haven’t read it, I recommend reading it for yourself.

I heard McDougall speaking on a podcast about this follow-up book and he explained why he wanted to write this book. He said he kept getting compliments on Born to Run and people asked how they should begin barefoot running or sometimes just running in general and he had no answer for them. Although he was himself a runner for many years, he didn’t have enough sound advice to give others on how to take up running. Thus, the origin of the book.

Born to Run 2 is by and large a training guide, as is in the title. There are illustrated pages on how to prepare your body to efficiently be a runner. The authors call some of these exercises “movement snacks.” They are meant to be done to prep your mind and body using playful and easy range-of-motion activities that will alert you to any hidden or maybe not so hidden trouble spots. Although they are primarily written to be done with a partner, to incorporate the community aspect of running, they could just as easily be done solo. I like that there are also explanations of the purpose of each exercise.

Part 2 in the book is called The Free Seven. Diet is discussed in-depth but with other athletes’ points of views and their stories and includes a variety of recipes. There are leg and foot strengthener exercises, a section on running form and a promised “Five-Minute Fix.” Music as a way to monitor your cadence is discussed, which I thought was a creative way to cover that topic.

Of course it wouldn’t be a Born to Run book without a section on footwear. I like how it’s not just MacDougall and Orton’s opinions on running shoes, however, and there is space for other people’s opinions when it comes to running shoes.

There were a couple of sections I found surprising, like the information about using scooters as a form of cross-training. I also found the story about the Amish running couple interesting. One of the things I enjoyed most about this book is how stories are intertwined throughout, so it’s not just another training book on running. There are stories that relate back to the particular topic at hand and many of the stories have the theme of “fun,” in that running should be fun or otherwise why do it.

The book is rounded out with discussions on running with your dog and finding a running community. Like the rest of the book, there are heart-warming stories including people running with rescue dogs (that are adopted after the run) and the importance of running clubs. There are tips and advice whether you want to form your own running club or join one. The authors emphasize the importance of the community aspect of running and how it’s immensely more fun (back to that word) to run with others than just by yourself all the time.

A story is told toward the end of the book about how Caballo Blanco aka Micah True, from “Born to Run” was missing and eventually found dead in a canyon. A section in the book reads as follows, “No wonder a rebel like Caballo loved running so much. If you were humble enough to go back to basics, and learn from the quietest teachers in the world, you would soar…. Follow in his footsteps. Run freee.”

This book, in addition to the two-week “reset” diet and many exercises, also includes a QR code to download a 90-day program app. The app has videos and will track your progress. The 90-day Run Free Program is also printed in the back of the book and has each day of each week broken down into food (for the first two weeks), fitness, form, and focus run with the appropriate exercises or information for each.

Finally, there’s one last section of the book that seemed out of place to me or perhaps like it was included as an after thought but is nonetheless an important subject: injuries. The most common runner injuries are listed, like plantar fasciitis with a description of how it feels with a diagram of where on the body the cause is and where the pain usually radiates. There are possible causes listed, remedies, and long-term strategies.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. When I told some running friends at my run club I just finished reading it, one of them rolled her eyes but after explaining what the book is about she said she “might actually consider reading it, just so long as it’s not another book about minimalist running.” Of course there is some element of minimalist shoe running in Born to Run 2, but that’s only a tiny fraction of the book. I look at it like a helpful book for beginner runners to help them get started on their running journey or for more seasoned runners it’s a book with plenty of useful reminders of exercises and other things we all could spend more time on to keep us running healthy.

Have you read Born to Run 2? If not, did you read the first one? Are you interested in reading this “follow-up” (although I hesitate to call it that)?

Happy running!



Author: runningtotravel

I'm a long distance runner with a goal of running a half marathon in all 50 states in the US, which I completed in 2021. I also love to travel so I travel to other places when I'm not running races. Half the fun is planning where I'm going to go next!

8 thoughts on “Book Review- Born to Run 2. The Ultimate Training Guide by Christopher McDougall and Eric Orton”

    1. It’s so full of useful information. I have a friend who bought it and said he’s been picking and choosing which exercises to work on since there are so many. At face value it can be a bit overwhelming otherwise.
      I hope you’ve been well, Tracy!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve been very busy with track season and have definitely slacked off on the blog posts! Weston had a clean MRI earlier this month and my hurdler had a slight setback with his hamstring recovery but he was finally turf running at practice yesterday and looked good and it made me so happy! Hope you and your daughter are doing well!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You’ll have to update us on track season when you get a chance. That’s wonderful news about your nephew and hurdler on your track team!
          My daughter is in the thick of getting ready to graduate and go to college this fall so it’s an exciting time!

          Liked by 1 person

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