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Fast and Injury Free – Secrets from the World’s Best Runners
Part II

By Yuri Elkaim, BPHE, CK, RHN

In the first part of this series on the Tarahumara runners, you were given 2 strategies to implement, also used by the Tarahumara that could improve your running performance.

This article will give you a few more essential steps to bettering your running stride in order to reduce the risk of injury and maximize your performance.

1. Build into your runs
The Tarahumara are not known to explode out of the starting gates but they are most often looking behind them as they cross the finish line. Their strategy is to start running with short, easy strides, progressively adding intensity as their muscles warm up. Makes sense! Remember, it isn’t where you start but where you finish that matters so ease into your runs and your body will switch to autopilot when it’s ready.

2. Recruit your abs
The core and abdominal muscles are key in allowing maximum energy transfer between upper and lower body. Therefore, let your core muscles propel you. Relax your legs while running; let them feel as if they’re hanging loose and spinning from pivot points in your hips. You should sense tension in your glutes, rather than your quads or hamstrings.

3. Stay level – don’t bounce
As with any movement that requires horizontal motion, the more time you spend in the air the slower you go. Nowhere is this more applicable than in running. The Tarahumara are notorious for virtually eliminating up and down vertical motion. They run smooth and therefore don’t waste as much energy as other inefficient runners. Try running while balancing something on your head – a great test to see how much vertical motion you actually create.

4. Kick your butt
Ever notice how sprinters, in full stride, whip their heels up towards the butt? They do that for a reason. It’s actually a very effective way for runners to cycle their legs around for the next stride. It uses centrifugal force about the hips to propel you forward instead of drawing down your energy.

So there you go. 4 more strategies that the legendary Tarahumara runners have handed down to us. Use them, practice them, and eventually they will become easier to incorporate into your running stride. As with anything new it will take some time but just try them out and you’ll see the differences they make.

Read Part I here

© 2007 Yuri Elkaim, BPHE, CK, RHN