A lot of people tend to think that they know how to run. After all, it’s simple right? If you can walk, you can run. I used to think this way until I read about the Tarahumara (pronounced Tara-oo-mara, see their picture above). They are an Indian tribe in North Mexico who are known for their traditional running competitions that lasts for 2 days. A lot of books have been written about them because of their ability to run long distances with little rest and one such book was written by Christopher McDougall and is entitled, “Born to Run”. After much research of the Tarahumaran way of life, I found that they have a very distinct way of running. I found this research to be truly valuable in changing the way that I run so I’d like to share it with you.
I used to get shin splints after running. I tried other types of shoes and different running surfaces but I still kept getting them. I also felt that I was pounding the ground too much like I’m too heavy to run. Back then, I was practicing the “old school” way of running where I’m supposed to roll my foot on the ground starting from the ball of my foot all the way to the heel. It turns out that this way of running was causing my shin splints. I know this because the very first time I applied the Tarahumaran “running mechanics,” I felt light as air and did not get shin splints the next day. Most of all, I was able to perform more high intensity intervals at higher speeds. I felt so good that I just wanted to keep running.
So, what makes this new way of running different? Here are a few things that I’ve learned:
- My arms should always be at 90 degrees and never pass my head when they swing back and forth.
- Keep my shoulders and hips right on top of my feet. In other words, I shouldn’t be leaning forward or backward but standing straight.
- Do not wear running shoes. I stopped wearing running shoes a long time ago for any workouts that I do. I started doing this for my kettlebell work but decided that I needed to stop running in them too. The results are tremendous because the higher heels in running shoes can offset your balance so that you’re leaning forward instead of standing straight.
- When I get ready for my sprint and during the actual sprints, my heels never touch the ground. In other words, I’m on the ball of my feet the whole time. You’ll know you’re doing this right when you’re calves get a little sore the next day.
Some of these tips also came from a friend of mine who used to run track in college. She gave me all sorts of different “stages” when we sprint but I couldn’t remember them all if my life depended on it…haha. You can also read up on Christopher McDougall’s summary of his experience which he talked about in an article for Men’s Health called, “The Men Who Live Forever”. I got some of the tips from him too. When I run this way, I feel like I can run for a long time and I felt a thrill rush through my veins! Best of all, no more shin splints and more calories burned.
If you have any questions about running, please post them in the comments section and I’ll answer them to the best of my ability.