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You don't stop running because you get old, you get old because you stop running.
Some people enjoy running marathons. We often can’t understand why they seem to run long stretches with ease. At the same time, we struggle just to run a few miles. Maybe you think these people are crazy and have superhuman abilities. But what if I told you that you are capable of running long distances also?
As wild as it sounds, you are physiologically built to run great lengths. The human body has gifted you with the tools you need to be able to run for hours. All you need to do is dedicate the time and patience to train.
Compared to animals like horses, you might think your human body is pretty slow. But did you know those two legs of yours are capable of outrunning any animal on the planet?
When talking about sheer speed, many animals will win over a short distance. But where homo sapiens wins is endurance. On a hot day, someone who is fit can outrun a horse in a marathon. This is because human bodies are efficient.
Your body can regulate temperature much more efficiently than other animals through sweating. Most other mammals can’t sweat, so they are forced to release heat through breathing.
When four-legged animals run, they break into a gallop. It’s quick, but the movement of galloping legs compresses the animal’s lungs. When these animals run fast, they can only breathe one breath per stride, which they are unable to keep up after too long.
Our ability to run on two legs, though slower, allows our chest to expand and thus enables us to increase air capacity. We can breathe at whatever rate we need.
Our specialized Achilles tendon also gives us a leg up on the competition. As it stretches, the Achilles stores energy. When that power is released, it propels us forward. This allows us to use less energy per step than other animals.
Learning to pace yourself is also an art. The trick is to run just below your aerobic threshold, or the place where you start to breathe heavily. When you do this, you will use fat stores rather than depleting your limited sugar stores. The average body has plenty of fat stored for long distances, and if you use this as a source rather than sugar, you can run much longer.
You don't have to be fast. But you'd better be fearless.
The Tarahumara Indians can run up to 300 miles at a time without stopping. Also known as the Rarámuri or running people, they have honed the ability to run over treacherous terrain without sophisticated running shoes. A champion runner once ran 435 miles nonstop.
The legend of this isolated tribe is shrouded in mystery because they live in solitude. The Tarahumara live deep within the Copper Canyons in Mexico, and are intensely secretive and wary of strangers. They stay away from the outside world, and lead independent and simple lives
As the world's best runners, the Tarahumara Indians leave no tracks. They're light footed, run over invisible trails, and leave almost nothing by way of carbon footprint. They're a peaceful community with no sense of hatred, no depression, virtually disease-free, and have no incidence of cancer.
The crime rate is non-existent. However, they aren't exactly moderate. The Tarahumara like to party, and their economy not only runs on doing favors for one another, but on beer.
At the heart of this ethos around running is the high-intensity and fast-paced game Rarájipari. The game consists of two balls and two teams, and the idea is to kick and chase your team's ball over the vast terrain. Games can last up to 48 hours and are part of the social fabric of the tribe. The game is a metaphor for life and endurance running, 'You never know how hard it will be. You never know how it will end. You can't control it. You can only adjust.'
Advertising and shoe companies will have you believe that it's all about the running gear, particularly the shoes. Here's the thing, this isn't under-researched.
There have been loads of peer-reviewed studies on running shoes, and none of them can prove that high-tech shoes decrease injuries or increase performance. In fact, as running shoe technology is expanding, injuries are not coming down one iota. Running-related injuries remain exceedingly high. Every year 65%-80% of runners suffer from injuries, and it's not just beginners, but seasoned athletes.
For most runners, wearing a shoe is not unlike wearing a plaster cast around the foot. Like a cast, a shoe inhibits movement and causes the muscles in the foot to lose strength. Because of this imbalance, the rest of the body has extra stress on other muscles and joints, and the risk of injury increases.
Shoes also harm your good form. Because they are so cushioned, runners can’t feel the discomfort from harmful impacts on the ground as they run. This may cause them to adopt poor running gait, making them more prone to injury. Running barefoot allows the body to adapt to a better running gait.
Some of the best conditioned runners in the best shoes that money can buy are suffering from everything from shin splints, to Achilles heels, to plantar fasciitis. Runners wearing top-of-the-range shoes are 123% more likely to get injured.
We have a greater sense of foot control with less cushioning. This is because our feet naturally seek out stability, so if we expect a cushioned landing, we preempt this and overcompensate. Instead of creating thicker shoes with more cushioning, we need to be making them thinner.
Running barefoot is much better for your feet. Our bodies have many evolutionary traits that help us run. Your feet also have natural gifts that are hindered by running shoes.
Modern running shoes stabilize the foot too well. When we run, our foot rolls inward, which is called pronation. This acts as a shock absorber for our lower leg. Unfortunately, we blamed pronation for a common ailment called runner’s knee. Because of this, pronation-alleviation shoes flooded the market, though only 3% of people have a medical need for such shoes.
People hate running, because they've lost the sense of freedom, joy, and glee that it brings. If we look towards children for inspiration, we see this mindset in action. Children run all the time; we tell them to slow down and to take it easy. We reign them in. The Tarahumara never slow down or take it easy; they run because they're inspired and love it. They run with a sense of wonder and ecstasy.
Ultrarunning is a pretty pure sport because there's no money or real fame in it. Hence, people who run long distances do it because they can't help themselves.
There are two goddesses in your heart. There's The Goddess of Wisdom and the Goddess of Wealth. Everyone thinks they need to get wealth first, and wisdom will come. So they concern themselves with chasing money. But they have it backwards. You have to give your heart to the Goddess of Wisdom, give her all your love and attention, and the Goddess of Wealth will become jealous, and follow you.
Ask nothing from your running.
When you run on the earth and run with the earth, you can run forever.
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