Born to Run Author Christopher McDougall talks about his new book, resistance fighters, and the Five Fingers fallout.In his bestselling book Born to Run, Christopher McDougall shadowed the indigenous Tarahumara and a wily ex-boxer named Caballo Blanco to uncover the secrets of distance running. (Matthew McConaughey is starring in the upcoming feature film as Caballo Blanco.) Now, in his new book Natural Born Heroes, McDougall follows in the footsteps of resistance fighters in World War II who plot the daring abduction of a general during the peak of the Nazi occupation. McDougall retraces their steps in the razor-sharp mountains of Crete, experiencing firsthand the extreme physical challenges they face. Along the way, he discovers surprising truths about fitness and heroism—truths that can change the way we move and live.What inspired you to take the ideas of Born to Run beyond the running community?CM: The minimalist running movement was already underway when I wrote Born to Run. I was just the dude sitting on the surfboard when the wave came. Similarly, the natural fitness revolution is already happening. Look at the explosion in obstacle course racing, Crossfit, mud runs—anything where people are getting outside and doing something unpredictable.Like Born to Run, your new book is both a fitness revolution and an adventure story. Where does your latest adventure unfold?CM: On Crete, the birthplace of the classical Greek heroism that spawned the likes of Heracles and Odysseus, I followed in the footsteps of World War II resistance fighters during Nazi occupation. How did they hike for hundreds of miles on a starvation diet and maintain the strength to defeat their enemies? That question drove this book. These particular heroes were a small band of misfits trying to recapture the island of Crete during World War II. But you don’t need war—or even a marathon—to be a hero. Our problem today is that we have artificially inflated heroes into superheroes. The truth is: all of us can be heroic.What are the tools of natural fitness?CM: Natural movement, extraordinary endurance, and efficient nutrition.You don’t need anything but your brain and body. Too often, if someone can sell something that makes it easier, we buy it. We’re constantly pushed to purchase things that do the work for us. As a result, we live in a largely sedentary environment with high obesity rates, and fitness is not fun.But a lot of folks like their workout routines and the reliability of the gym—especially in bad weather.CM: We’ve given gyms a fair shot, and how well have they worked for us? Most folks who get their gym memberships in January have stopped showing up by March. We think we like routine and repetition, but really we don’t. Routines are boring and they don’t engage our whole selves.There’s nothing wrong with getting wet in the rain. There’s nothing wrong with falling down. It’s okay to get hurt sometimes. Getting hurt shows you what your limits are. Our culture seems to fear knee scrapes and bruises, but we do even more harm sheltering ourselves from them.Can city dwellers realistically adapt natural fitness into their training?CM: Natural fitness is all about adapting to your surroundings and making use of what’s available. Over half of the world’s population now lives in cities. Parkour—running, jumping, and climbing over obstacles—is just one example of natural fitness adapting to an urban environment.How has natural fitness changed the way you train personally?CM: My fitness is a lot more randomized and playful. I recently went running with natural fitness guru Erwan LeCorre, and in the middle of the run, he suddenly veered right up and began scrambling up a steep slope. It seemed strange at the time, but I followed him, crawling on all fours up the cliff. It was unpredictable, and I was dialed in completely to the moment. That’s the beauty of uncertainty. Randomized fitness unlocks the power and immediacy of the experience.Any specific challenges you like to do most?CM: My favorite workouts are always out in nature. Personally, there is nothing better than chopping wood and hauling hay. I still love my running trails, but I also have a climbing rope outside my office and a wheelbarrow nearby.Play doesn’t necessarily need purpose. It’s unstructured and meant to be fun and exploratory. At the same time, there are useful skills being learned through play. Play often comes from mimicking adults. Kids are often building blocks and stacking stuff when they’re younger, and later, they’re developing running and climbing skills on the playground.What’s your reaction to the fallout from the Five Fingers lawsuit?CM: It’s deflating that the conversation is always about the product. Vibram made promises about the shoes that they probably really believed were true, but they couldn’t prove them scientifically. In that sense, they really stepped on the rake. Unfortunately, a lot of people interpreted the lawsuit as saying minimalist shoes are bad. Born to Run wasn’t about shoes. It was about rediscovering natural running form and reconnecting with our running heritage.
“In light of the significant infection risks, we will ask that national sporting or cultural events that will attract large crowds be either cancelled, postponed or downsized for the next two weeks,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a cabinet task force meeting on the outbreak.Workers in protective clothes stand before passengers disembarking off the Diamond Princess cruise ship, in quarantine due to fears of new COVID-19 coronavirus, at Daikoku pier cruise terminal in Yokohama on February 21, 2020. ( AFP/Philip FONG)-Concerts cancelled After the announcement, the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization said its unofficial spring games through March 15 would be held in empty stadiums before the official season opens on March 20.Some top Japanese musicians — including all-male group Exile and female trio Perfume — cancelled concerts, while the Tokyo Girls Collection fashion show on Saturday will be held with no audience, according to their organisers.The virus has also forced professional football, rugby, golf, tennis and other sports to reschedule games or to hold events with no fans in attendance.The sumo association will hold an emergency board meeting on Sunday to discuss whether to hold their sold-out March tournament in Osaka in western Japan.The government has also asked state-operated museums and theatres to consider closing or cancelling shows.Abe and cabinet ministers have repeatedly said that the coming weeks will be critical in limiting the spread of the virus in Japan.But those measures have been largely advisory, including recommending that people work from home or commute off-peak.The governor of Hokkaido, where at least 38 people have been diagnosed, said he was asking local municipalities to close public schools for one week from Thursday.In Tokyo, meanwhile, the regional education board said public high schools could start late to spare students travelling on packed commuter trains.The outbreak has raised fears that the Olympic Games to be hosted in Tokyo this summer could be cancelled, a possibility government officials and organisers have rejected.”We have not thought about it. We have not heard about it. We have made inquiries, and we were told there is no such plan,” Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto told reporters.”Our basic thinking is to conduct the Olympics and Paralympics as planned. That’s our assumption.”Along with at least 165 infections across the country, Japan has dealt with lingering worries about those who disembarked from the virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship.The government has contacted 813 former passengers of the ship and found “45 people had certain symptoms”, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told parliament.”We asked all of them (who have symptoms) to see a doctor and to take tests.”Japan has come under increasing pressure over its handling of the crisis on the vessel.Those allowed off the ship after a 14-day quarantine were asked to stay inside, but no formal measures restricting their movement were imposed.Around 970 people were allowed off the boat last week after testing negative for the virus, but several have subsequently been diagnosed with the illness.Opposition lawmakers have blamed the government for failing to implement a fresh 14-day quarantine after the passengers left the cruise ship — as was required by countries that repatriated citizens from the boat.Topics : He had not travelled to China recently and there was no sign he had contact with known infected individuals, it said in a statement.Another elderly person in the Hokkaido region of northern Japan died of viral pneumonia, the ministry said.Testing done after the death confirmed the infection of the individual, whose details have not been released at the request of the family.Seven deaths linked to the virus have now been reported in Japan — four of them former passengers from the Diamond Princess — while the country has also recorded more than 700 infections from the boat and at least 160 off it. Japan reported two more deaths linked to the coronavirus Wednesday as the government called for organisers to reconsider holding major events in coming weeks to limit the outbreak.The news came as dozens of passengers allowed off a virus-stricken cruise ship were reported to have developed symptoms including fever, and will be asked to be re-tested for the virus.A Tokyo man in his 80s who tested positive for the infection died of pneumonia, the health ministry said.