Born to run
Gradually a counter-movement came up with runners that preferred running in a more natural way.
Inspired by the Kalenjin Tribe in Kenya and the Tarahumara Tribe in Mexico, they started exploring trails on minimalistic shoes, sandals or even Barefoot.
Most Kenyan elite runners, who regularly win Olympic and Marathon races, origine from the Kalenjin Tribe.
Daniel Lieberman, Professor of Biological Sciences at Harvard University, studied 300 Kenyan runners from the Kalenjin Tribe since 1987.
His research got him into barefoot running as well. His 2004 publication “Born to Run” contributed to the book with the same title, published by Christopher McDougall in 2009.
Improving the running economy
Lieberman discovered that because we learn to make better use of our muscles when we run barefoot, it reduces the impact on the body, and therefore it improves the running economy.
Despite the benefits of natural running, most of our bodies aren’t used to it anymore, so changing to more minimalistic running too sudden, can lead to injuries.
Moving with nature
In 1999 Danny Dreyer introduced ChiRunning, based on Chinese Tai Chi principles from the 19th century.
ChiRunning is a low-impact running technique that teaches us how to gradually run with less effort, and reduce the risk of getting injured.
It is a natural and efficient way of moving forward, using our gravity, while keeping our body and mind in balance.
Endurance runner and biologist Bernd Heinrich published “Racing the Antelope: What Animals Can Teach Us About Running and Ourselves” in 2001, where he describes his journey of chasing his “Antelope”: running a 100 mile race.
He figured we’re still hunters, looking for an antilope to chase. Although we don’t need to chase our food anymore, we still like to chase our dreams.
His book was re-published in 2002, titled “Why We Run: A Natural History”.
Being frustrated about his continuous running injuries, journalist and author Christopher McDougall starts looking into our history of running.
He discovers that the Tarahumara Tribe in the Copper Canyons of Mexico pretty much still lives, eats and hunts, like our ancestors did.
They cover many miles on a daily basis without having cushioned running shoes.
It’s the start of McDougall’s ongoing journey, to uncover the lost secrets of strength and endurance.
The Natural Method
As an officer of the French Marines visiting remote areas in the world, George Hebert saw primitive tribes in a strong physical shape, being able to take care of their daily needs and life.
On the other hand, he noticed that more civilized people, even his own soldiers, had lost the physical condition and strength, that is essential to deal with challenging life circumstances.
That’s why he initiated the Natural Method in 1905.
He identified 10 Basic Natural Movements to test our physical abilities:
Can you run, walk, hike?
Can you throw and catch?
Can you defend and pursue?
Can you climb, leap and land?
It was the foundation for the current Parkour, Freerunning and Spartan race.
In 2008 Erwan le Corre introduced his Movement in Nature (MovNat), inspired by the Natural Method and insights of George Hebert.
it is a comprehensive, holistic & mindful approach of the full range of natural human movement abilities.
Resources / Further reading
Bryant Gumbel w/ Dr. Lieberman on Barefoot-Forefoot Running
What is ChiRunning?
ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running by Danny Dreyer
Why we run
Why We Run: A Natural History by Bernd Heinrich
The Tarahumara – A Hidden Tribe of Superathletes Born to Run
Methode Naturelle 1930s
Movement in Nature by Erwan le Corre
The Roots Of “Methode Naturelle”
The Natural Method (adapted): Georges Hébert’s Practical Guide to Physical Education
Animals vs Humans – Parkour & Freerunning