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OK, so I read Born to Run by Chris McDougall a while back. Great read, no doubt. It laid the foundation for people all over the world to get off their asses and stop using the excuse, “I just wasn’t made to run.” Well, through personal anecdote, a bit of science, and hanging out with the legendary tribe of super-runner Tarahumara Indians, McDougall pretty well shot big, gaping holes in that argument.
So, Born to Run told us what we are (born runners) and why we are what we are (basically genetics). But, it didn’t tell us how to run. Eric Orton‘s The Cool Impossible does just that. Orton is the coach who trained McDougall for his 50 mile run in the book Born to Run. McDougall calls Orton a “miracle worker,” and I gotta say I wholeheartedly agree.
One of the key learnings in this book is Orton’s foot, leg, and core strengthening exercises. He claims strong feet, strong hips, and a strong core will catapult your running to distances you never thought possible. I tried it, and it’s true. I first read this book in 2014 when shin splints, a torn hamstring, and weak hip flexors were majorly holding me back while training for my first ultrarun, a 40-mile out-and-back run for my 40th birthday. I took a month off from running and implemented several of Orton’s recommended exercises and my training took off. I was blown away and immediately became a believer.
The Cool Impossible comes complete with a refreshingly simple, straightforward chapter on nutrition (basically cut out sugar and processed foods, and eat whole foods), detailed coaching about natural running form, and even a fair amount of info about mental training techniques.
Since reading this book in 2014, I’ve run close to 3000 miles, and I gotta say my running has never been better. With three marathons under my belt this year, and a 48-mile rim-to-rim-to-rim run through the Grand Canyon planned later this year, you can bet I’m putting many of Orton’s lessons into place. I recommend you do, too. Check out The Cool Impossible here >
Steve Lemig is the founder of Wilderdad. He's been a lot of things over the years. Skateboarder. Mountain biker. Climber. Snowboarder. Bike mechanic. Forest firefighter. Woodworker. Creative director. These days he's a runner, writer, husband, and father. He writes stories to empower dads and encourage them to share outdoor adventures with their kids as a tool to strengthen families and build respect for the environment. He has also been the Communications Director at Road Runner Sports for the last 13 years.