Many people will tell you that running hurts, and they are right!
With reports stating that around 80% of runners will suffer from a running-related injury at some point, you could be forgiven for questioning whether running is something that people do as a form of punishment, to work off over indulgence, or to counterbalance being sedentary for much of their day. It doesn’t have to be that way though.
Running throughout history
As nomadic hunter-gatherers, we evolved as a moving, walking, running species; our environment shaped our physiology. New anthropological evidence suggests that sapiens date back to 300,000 years ago, not 200,000 as previously thought, and yet in a relatively short time (in terms of human evolution) over the last 10,000 years, humans have changed radically in terms of movement – or lack thereof. As a species, we have transitioned from migratory hunter-gatherers, to mechanical and sedentary farmers, to a culture of industrialised and technology-based beings.
The need to survive is what drove us to move thousands of years ago, but now with the convenience and comforts of modern life, we can survive with much less physical effort.
The importance of Natural Movement
The problem lies in that, while our physical survival doesn’t require as much movement, our biological wellbeing does. Movement is essential at a cellular level, and to truly benefit, we should do it outside. What environment are we training for? Is it a concrete, mechanical one? Or a natural one?
When I started coaching in skilful, natural running (aka ‘barefoot running’ – but with minimal shoes), most who came to me were simply wanting wanted to move more, with less pain. Before moving ‘more’ though, I realised that it was vital for them to move ‘well’. Our sedentary lifestyles and poor fashion choices meant that many needed to regain balance and strength in parts of the body that had reformed into patterns and shapes that compromised their natural running form. Many of us are imbalanced and weak in the areas needed for natural running and an optimal, fluid, pain free walking gait. I help people find their centre again, reawakening dormant body parts and promoting a stronger more balanced body – the same principles are incorporated into my yoga classes to help people move with more ease and less effort.
Convenience and fashion may seem harmless, but over the years they have been reforming us, myself included, into a less robust, more domesticated variation of our former species. Furthermore, in today’s culture we are all after a quick fix. We tend to seek out diets and workouts that produce a high tax on the body for short-term effects; we want to look good on the outside, rather than function well on the inside.
The benefits of running outdoors
As human beings with an ancestry steeped in the outdoors and the natural world, we have an internal pull to get outside. That’s why I encourage nutritious, functional, natural movement in an outdoor environment, rather than the mechanical movements helped by machines.
Over the last few years I have been teaching skills for a more natural running technique; changing movement patterns to help people find a more fluid and less impactful form and flow, alongside studying bioenergetics and what the runner naturally needs as fuel. This is key to remaining an efficient and happy runner for the long-term.
Running for me is a form of meditation. To be out on the trails, in the peace of the mountains, moving joyfully and really being able to connect with my surroundings. It allows the creativity of thought to flow through my mind, without being niggled by discomfort or pain.
I would love any runner, would-be runner, or walker to experience this way of moving. To move with ease like we see any free animal do, to move naturally with what evolution gave us and to remove the notion that we need fashion or tools to ‘get the job done’!
Mallorca has so much to offer through its natural outdoor playground. Get truly connected and feel good in your body. Move with ease and above all else, enjoy, don’t just endure.
Written by Rebecca Lewis
About the author
After travelling the world for 12 years as a successful photographer, Rebecca found her health and energy levels depleted. Inspired by a sailing trip, she embarked on a complete change of career and lifestyle that brought her back to nature. Finding herself thriving rather than surviving, she decided to forego her career in London for a life wealthier in health.
Seven years later she is working in Mallorca as a running technique coach and dedicated yoga instructor, with a passion for healthy living and the outdoors that she loves to share with others.