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Digital Running Club » Time on Feet » Born this way

Born this way

This year the running community lost a legend: Micah True, otherwise known as Caballo Blanco. I never met him, nor did many of us, but if you’ve read Christopher McDougall’s Born To Run then you know who he is. If you haven’t read it, pick up a copy. It’s good.  Better than my column even.

Through McDougall, Caballo taught me how to run the way I was meant to, and how to love it.

As a community, we’re millions strong of runners. But as a nation… a planet… not so much. How many times have you told someone about a recent run only to hear them say “Ugh, I hate running.”? Here’s what they don’t know, and even what I didn’t know: they don’t hate it. Really, they just forgot that they love it.

When was the last time you played tag? Or Red Rover? How about duck-duck-goose? For most of us, we stopped playing those games once we got too old for recess. But think about it – who invented those games? Kids. What do they all have in common? Running.

Why in the world would kids invent so many games that involve running? Especially when you can’t get a college scholarship, a contract, or any kind of a pro-athlete’s salary for playing them? Because they love running. Running is fun, running is easy and running just comes naturally. Watch a four-year-old play tag, wait for him to wipe the huge goofy grin off his face. It won’t happen. He’s grinning from ear to ear the whole time. Now go tell the guy in the next cubicle to go outside and run around the parking lot as fast as he can while you chase him for no reason at all. He might smile, but trust me it won’t be for the love of running.

The point is that we all loved running once. We loved it before we started worrying about pacing and splits and intervals or even miles.  Who knows how far we ran when we were kids. No one wore a Garmin, and no one cared.  But everyone loved it.

Caballo Blanco helped me realize that. He found and became accepted by the Tarahumara Indians in the Copper Canyons of Mexico, a group of people who never forgot that they love running. The children play running games each day, and they never stop playing… even as they grow up. It’s just as fun for a sixty year old man to chase a ball around for hours as it is for his ten-year-old granddaughter.

The true story of McDougall, Caballo, and a few other crazy characters with names like Barefoot Ted have inspired and motivated many of us to rediscover our love for running.  I’m not going to pretend that I don’t care about getting a PR or a cool race medal, but I do like to think about those characters when I’m jogging around town sometimes.

On March 27th, 2012, Caballo Blanco set out alone for a 12 mile run. For an accomplished ultra-marathoner like himself, the run was nothing more than a morning jog. But instead of returning with that goofy grin on his face, his body was found days later with his feet dangling in a New Mexico river. I don’t know if they’ve yet determined the cause of his death, but I did read that even in death he had a smile on his face, like he was enjoying the run and the peacefulness of the wilderness and the beauty around him – and decided to sit down and soak it all it. No one knows for sure if that’s what was going through his mind, but I’d like to think so.

I’ve come to love running, crave running and appreciate running. I do think it’s something I was born to do. Sometimes I run to soak in the peacefulness of the wilderness like Caballo, and sometimes I run to enjoy the beauty of a huge race medal around my neck, but I hope to keep running for the rest of my days. And if I do, I’ll pass with a quiet smile on my face too.

R.I.P. Caballo… you’re someone who truly GOT it. Enjoy the run.

Written by

Tracy is a certified personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She’s employed by a major fitness footwear retailer as a Regional Product and Sales Trainer. By working in what she considers to be “as close to a dream job as you can get,” Tracy gets to travel the east coast while educating her co-workers and potential clients on the benefits of embracing a healthy lifestyle.

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