The Cool Impossible – “Born to Run” Coach Eric Orton Teaches Us How to Run

After reading Born to Run, many of us were left wondering: just who is Eric Orton, and how do we find out more about his training methods? After all, if he could take an injured 6′ 4″ 240 lbs. guy like Chris McDougall and train him to run a 50 mile race in the Copper Canyons of Mexico, could he also help me run faster?

From the beginning, Eric challenges us to think big. He tells us that by following his methods we can take our running to a totally new level. This is The Cool Impossible. Eric asks us to imagine ourselves taking on big goals and achieving them. Not just in running, but in life. He encourages readers to go beyond what they thought possible. Stop trying to nail down exactly what you think you can do, and let you body and mind take you to a new level by listening to your inner strengths.

Whether you are injured, a beginner, or a seasoned runner, Eric says he can bring you running to a new level. For Eric, the mind follows the body, and through teaching the body to move correctly, our mind will follow in the right direction.

One of the differences between, The Cool Impossible, and other books on running, is that Eric’s approach is deeply integrated with the mind and body. He asks us to listen to our body, notice how we feel after the food we eat, take note of where our foot hits the ground, and become more in tune with our muscles as they move us through the air.

Eric’s program starts from the ground up by looking at the feet. He focuses heavily on activating muscle that most runners don’t usually think of being used when running. His strength training isn’t meant to build giant muscles, but to “bring more muscles to the running party”. He teaches the body to activate the intricate muscles of the feet, legs and core. He says that if our muscles are used correctly we shouldn’t have tightness, inflexibility or regular aches and pains that many consider part of running. The program features the use of stability disc, a slant board, and a stability ball. These can be found sold as a package at his website.

Eric’s passion for a fully integrated approach to running has even led him to design his own footwear called Born to Run Shoes. While he doesn’t mention the B2R shoes in the book, I feel it is important to note because it shows the integrated approach that Eric takes towards developing an athlete. They feature a split toe design that allows the muscles in the arch to act more naturally by allowing the big toe to act as a support.

When it comes to nutrition, Eric tells us to steer clear of processed foods. This includes processed foods like: bread, and pasta. At first this might seem strange, but really there is no such thing as a loaf bread or macaroni noodle found in nature. You really have to go to a lot of work to grind wheat flour so fine that it can be made digestible to humans. Also, no milk, no cheese, no sugar, no junk, no processed food. Is Eric a closet Paleo eater? Not really. He doesn’t like labels because he likes to experiment with different foods to see how they make him feel. Some days he even eats all vegetarian.

Most of the time he includes lean pastured meat like wild game or buffalo with lunch and dinner time meals. Corn tortillas, lean meat, eggs, nuts, fruits, veggies, and beans seem to make up the bulk of his meals. He advises us to shop the perimeter of the grocery store, only going down the aisles for a few things like olive oil, corn tortillas, beans and canned tomatoes. Only eat whole simple foods and shoot for 95% perfection. 

Eric enjoys the occasional beer or chocolate chip cookie; but by striving for 95% whole foods, we end up eliminating a lot of the crap from our shopping cart.

The Cool Impossible is a book about taking life and running to new limits. It’s about looking beyond immediate goals and listening to our body; it will take us to new limits if we listen.

I recently had the chance to interview Eric. Click podcasts at the top of the page for more interviews.

Published by


Paleo lifestyle enthusiast, Minimalist runner