„Run Forrest, run.“
A well-known phrase, whose implication not only frees Forrest from his leg splints, but also guides him into being the star of the college football team, a war hero and finally a running icon.
What a story. And people love stories.
But why do we love this very story of a “hero” who shows so little actual heroism?
That's exactly why. Forrest Gump doesn't save the world from villains, he doesn't have a marvelous super-toned body and he doesn't even have a particularly sharp mind. But that‘s exactly what makes him so likeable, so endearing - his simplicity.
And then there is his “super power”, which is so tangible for each and every one of us. Forrest Gump runs and runs and runs. His style and technique could certainly be discussed in depth and he would probably have to accept one or two deductions in the B-grade.
But what sets Forrest Gump apart from most of us is this: he doesn't run to meet a time goal, he doesn't care about his weekly kilometers, and he doesn't seek approval through any Strava or Runtastic posts. He runs, for the sake of running.
Running against standstill
So what does his story have to do with us normal human beings? Over the last 2 months, due to the corona situation, running has experienced a new boom. Simply because it was one of the few permitted ways to escape the perceived standstill.
Standstill. We are really not made for that. It goes against the grain. Standstill is not in human nature. On the contrary - we have to move. Always. In ancient times, to survive. Today, to live.
And especially right now, a return to the first art of man is really worthwhile. Long before the first cave paintings were made or the first rhythms were drummed on wood, man perfected the art of combining breath, mind and muscles into this extremely economical form of movement across any terrain (that's how Christopher McDougall phrases it, at least, in his highly recommended book Born to Run).
The art of running is in every one of us. It is so deeply engrained in our fabric that standing still makes us physically and psychologically restless. Thoughts are running wild, we are playing through a ton of what-if scenarios, we can no longer sit still. Our natural reaction to the standstill is to be careful. Farewell beloved relaxation, long live restlessness.
The best remedy against this restlessness is naturally running.
And “naturally” here does not mean “of course”, but literally “naturally”.
Say goodbye to all the time goals and paces that buzz around in your head. Let the kilos you want to lose from running just be kilos. For a moment, forget your stats on Adidas Running, Strava and all the other tracking apps.
Take the opportunity to stop running with your head.
Get out of your thought carousel and just run the way evolution intended - with your senses and without the mind.
The return to natural running is a gentle and decelerating process, which results in a completely new body feeling. Because we have to slowly learn what we have unlearned through years of sitting at desks and wearing too tight shoes.
Natural running is much more than just taking off your running shoes and running barefoot (or in barefoot shoes). Natural running is running with (good) feelings.
And if you can surrender your beliefs that it always has to be higher, faster, further - and if you engage in your natural abilities instead, you will not only discover long-forgotten muscle groups and movement patterns, but you will, over time, also benefit from many other advantages of natural running.
Benefits of Natural Running
Minimize the risk of injury with Natural Running
In natural running, we let our bodies run. And if our head allows exactly that, our movements will become neater and rounder. Because the body does nothing which is harmful to itself or which exceeds its abilities. It is the mind or our demands that ignore performance limits and cause pain and injury.
Natural Running relieves existing medical conditions
The natural movement sequences in natural running train numerous muscle groups that are neglected or even atrophied by wearing conventional shoes on a daily basis. Particularly the foot and leg muscles benefit from a healthy running technique. Numerous typical complaints such as hallux valgus, running knees and back and neck pain can be counteracted with natural running.
Improved running economy
Even if minimum times, top speed and record distances don't play a role in natural running, ambitious runners can improve their running economy by changing their running technique. Just as the body does nothing harmful to itself in natural running, it does not waste energy unnecessarily (such as pure forefoot running, overly active arm work or excessive tension in the upper body).
Reduction of shoe consumption thanks to natural running
With a natural running technique, the foot does not need additional cushioning and the muscles are trained with every step. Of course, this also affects the choice of running shoes - if you do not want to run completely barefoot, you can buy running sandals or barefoot shoes (without heel-to-toe drop and without cushioning) and use them until the sole is worn off. Like that, the need for shoes is reduced tremendously, you save money and the environment will thank you as well.
You will have noticed by now how convinced I am of the fact that evolution has created us as runners and that we are naturally equipped with a good basis for a fit and healthy life.
But even more convincing than reading all these arguments is to experience it yourself.
So do it like Forrest Gump:
Run people, run.
Leif Call is Natural Running Coach, lives in Munich und runs and runs and runs ...