You see them out on the road, lots of them, running. People that simply have to run and unless you are a runner yourself, you can't help wondering why. Famed runner Haruki Murakami, author of What I Talk About When I Talk About Runningsays, 'Of course it's painful, and there were times I just wanted to chuck it all. But pain seems to be a precondition for this kind of sport. If pain weren't involved, who in the world would ever go to the trouble of taking part in sports like the triathlon or the marathon, which demand such an investment of time and energy? It's precisely because of the pain, precisely because we want to overcome that pain, that we can get the feeling, through this process, of really being alive - or at least a partial sense of it. Your quality of experience is based not on standards such as time or ranking, but on finally awakening to an awareness of the fluidity within action itself.'
In Chrisopher McDougall's New York Times bestseller Born to Run (Profile) he says, 'That was the real secret of the Tarahumara: they'd never forgotten what it felt like to love running. They remembered that running was mankind's first fine art, our original act of inspired creation. Way before we were scratching pictures on caves or beating rhythms on hollow trees, we were perfecting the art of combining our breath and mind and muscles into fluid self-propulsion over wild terrain. And when our ancestors finally did make their first cave paintings, what were the first designs? A downward slash, lightning bolts through the bottom and middle -behold, the Running Man'. McDougall also says, 'We were born to run, it's really an encoded ancestral necessity.'
There is a 'barefoot' running movement switching countless people onto a more natural form of running, one that takes people back to running with pure pleasure ' running as humans were designed to. Ted McDonald is actively vocal on the subject, a leading spokesman for the joys of running barefoot.
Here are 5 of McDonalds leading tips to transition into a higher dimension of running.
'Some of the best technology you'll ever own when it comes to footwear is the one you've already been given by your ancestors,' he says.
1. MAKE THE TRANSITION SLOWLY
Many newbie runners are completely captivated by how good and natural barefoot running feels that they over extend themselves, explains McDonald, who calls this the 'over exuberance' factor. 'There's this feeling of lightness and connectedness to our own bodies'. Because it's such a different experience, it takes time to transition, even sometimes up to a year. McDonalds advice is to concentrate on body awareness rather than building speed or clocking up mileage.
2. TUNE IN & BE SILENT
'All great hunting animals are extraordinarily quiet when they move, and the reason is they're extraordinarily efficient. We are definitely one of those,' says McDougall. In silence you become more aware of your body and being. When striving to run silently, running automatically becomes more gentle and this makes it much more efficient. To demonstrate the change McDonald gets runners to cup their ears with their hands while they walk. Then he gets them to do the same when barefoot. Intuitively, runners shift their weight to the forefoot. This decreases the impact on the heels and generates a quieter, more efficient running style.
3. UP YOUR TEMPO
Besides being lighter and quieter, another thing that changes when running barefoot is the stride ' it's shorter and faster. 'There's all these people who have numbers and digits and times and ways to quicken your cadence, but I believe it comes perfectly naturally by just simply tuning into yourself.' Ideally 180 steps per minute lighten the impact on rough or rocky surfaces.
4. CHECK YOUR BALANCE
'Balance isn't something you have to think about, it's something you tune into,' says McDonald. 'I want people to learn to preserve that feeling of balance, like they're walking on a balance beam, when they're running.' If you check your balance whilst standing, see if your head is positioned evenly above your shoulders, see that your core is engaged, your knees are bent slightly and you can move around while keeping this upper body balance, you will set up a good balance position in your brain. Keeping this balance while running will make the body light and agile.
5. LISTEN CAREFULLY
To really connect with your running experience, put away your headphones and go solo, says McDonald. This helps develop an intense connected feeling, a high level of body awareness. Move gently, quicken your pace and maintain your balance. 'Ultimately, once you can no longer maintain any of these three things that I consider to be the hazard lights on the dashboard of this ancient technology'.it's time to pull over,' says McDonald. 'It's not in your head, it's how you feel.'
did you know?According to ultra marathon runner Dean Karnazes and running legend Joan Benoit Samuelson, running without a sound track is highly therapeutic. Hours on the road forces you to work through everything that pops into your head, from negative thoughts to self-esteem boosts, to mundane to-do lists.
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