From a young age, we learn how to crawl, and then walk. Shortly after, as young children, we start to run. Not always successful at first, but most of us master it in a short period of time and after a number of falls.
If we learned it ourselves so young, does this make it natural, and if so why do we need to learn how to run all over again?
On a whole, children generally run very well. There are those that don’t, but the majority of kids run efficiently and freely. Running is one of the most natural things a human can do and if left to do it naturally, we do it with ease. Chances are, you most likely ran effectively when you were a child compared to how you run as an adult, prior to the onslaught of two modern-day imposed diseases; sitting down and wearing shoes!
Shoes, in general, will start to disconnect your feet from the ground and cause muscles to weaken. Once the muscles weaken, your heel-toe gradient changes, and we see the problem of heel striking, the lengthening of your stride and a decreased cadence of your legs. This is not a natural technique, or conducive to effective running.
Sitting, on the other hand, is a bigger epidemic. We begin full immersion into our “protected” sitting culture and start on our continual loss of all that is natural and childlike the moment we are given a full-time desk job at school. Think about how a child ‘sits’ - generally at the very bottom of a natural squat. Unfortunately, this childlike position has been replaced with chairs and desk-bound jobs.
Add 20 odd years of this unnatural state to your body, and say goodbye to that natural running technique you had when you were young. Now insert an inefficient, compromised and compensatory running style that is so far from natural that you are bound to injure yourself.
Consider all the steps you take whilst going for a 400m run, perhaps in a workout that determines four rounds, so 1.2 kilometres over the space of the workout. Every step with ineffective technique is putting you more at risk of injury and providing shock to your body.
Perhaps now the picture is forming as to why we may need to learn how to run -we have become incidental self-harmers through our own conditioning.
As humans we evolved to be the very best runners on the planet as we used running to hunt down our prey and also avoid being eaten. We have big, strong Achilles and big bottoms for a reason – to help us run strongly and for a long time. Evolution was kind to us in that as humans we are the only species on the planet who can auto-regulate their body temperature through sweating. Tribes of men and women used to slowly run their prey to death as they were able to last a lot longer compared to an animal, thanks to the ability to sweat. Runners today, on average get injured 65-85% of the time each and every year. These alarming stats show us how badly we are getting it wrong.
When you learn to run with good technique, you find that running is all of a sudden easier, more enjoyable and the whole experience takes on a life of its own. Too many people learn to hate running because they are forced to do it as part of a workout, it hurts when they run or it's boring. Despite all the good reasons to run, we are never taught to actually enjoy it.
Let’s transform your thoughts of hitting that dreaded block run or 100m sprints, with increased ease.