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A Tarahumara woman won a Mexican ultramarathon in sandals (2017) (elpais.com)
216 points by JetSpiegel 60 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 139 comments

I did race operations for the Leadville Trail 100 for a decade, including when the Tarahumara first raced.

The first year, Rockport was a sponsor and loaded them up with their best trail running shoes. The Tarahumara didn't perform well, although that could also be because of other gear issues and that they were not sure that the aid stations were for them. The second year, they stopped by the local landfill for old car tires, and made sandals from them. They set records that year. It was a bit of an embarrassment to the title sponsor...

I saw something similar in the NHK video documentary about Japan's Ultra Trail Mount Fuji race (100 mi.). At just after 3:00 in the video[0] you can see two Mexican entrants of the Rarámuri people. However, one of them is wearing Nike shoes and another wears the traditional sandals. The results I thought were a bit embarrassing for Nike, no matter the exact cause (22 minutes; 29 minutes for the sandals result).

I was however really intrigued by the maize-based powder supplement drink they seem to enjoy. (Pinore, 15:00 in the video)

0. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PsKvPTM8po

I think it is Pinole ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinole ). It is a very tasty powder we have here in Mexico that we use to do some type of milkshakes. I loved it as a kid.

From the cultivated crops the Tarahumaras prepare the following foods: Pinole, finely ground corn meal, is the most common. The meal is mixed with water and the mixture is drunk. A trait shared by many tribes of northern Mexico and the American Southwest, pinole is an ideal preparation for the highly mobile Tarahumara who carries, in a pouch slung under his arm, enough pinole to last him as much as a week while he is on the trail. Esquiate is similar to pinole but is prepared slightly differently, and, not being a dry meal like pinole, is not as transportable. It too is mixed with water and drunk. It is consumed as commonly as pinole and with this latter constitutes probably 75% of the Tarahumara?s diet. Other corn preparations, used less frequently, are atole (gruel), roasting ears, tortillas, tamales, and the cornflower.


Champion, J. R. (1970) ‘Study In Culture Persistence: The Tarahumaras Of Northwestern Mexico’. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University Microfilms. Available at: https://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/document?id=nu33-013 (Accessed: 22 August 2019).

Interesting. Do you think this https://www.ranchogordo.com/products/pinole-azul-heirloom-bl... is similar to what the Tarahumara drink?

Sounds like it. The only difference I see is in the Corn variety, which in this case is the Blue Corn.

Pinole indeed. FTFA, "To keep hydrated, the Tarahumara runners eat pinole, a corn paste, which is also part of their daily diet."

Technically every beverage in America is Maize-based :P and more than likely powder at some point.

Many people got the story of that race from the book "Born to run". Could you tell your story of that race ?

Although I have a lot of stories from my time there, my view of this particular event was mostly from behind a desk. I don't think I can offer much personal insight to it.

But I strongly recommend a video that covers the second race. Not to be confused with the 2009/2010 Citizen Pictures video, this one was put out by a studio in Aspen and I think was produced for the Outdoor Life Network.

The problem is that I'm not sure how one would legitimately source the video today. But if you stop by my place I'll offer you a beer and arrange a showing...? I'll look it up tonight and let you know if I can find a source.

I'll bring the chips :)

I'd imagine running in the shoes you're used to using is probably easier, whether or not they're the best option.

What's stopping the title sponsor from cooperating with the Tarahumara and making the sandals of their preference just with the sponsor's logo? They could even sell it later in stores.

Is this true? I read Born to Run, but the book seemed embellished. Are the accounts of the Tarahumara in that book apocryphal or did all this stuff really happen in Leadville?

A few words in opposition to barefoot running:

My podiatrist told me that aspiring barefoot runners make up a large part of his clientele, and in his professional opinion this is a dangerous errand. People who were running barefoot since early childhood (including various native peoples of the world) maybe fine because they spent formative decades of their lives acclimating to the style and growing stronger muscles/ligaments/joints/bones/skin, but everyone else is running a high risk of sustaining an injury (and enriching my doctor in the process).

Vibran Five Finger was targeted by a class-action lawsuit stemming form lack of scientific proof of their barefoot claims, and they settled. Vibram stood to gain a lot from showing the proof, and the fact that they didn't have anything convincing on hand is quite damning.

High risk is obviously not certainty, and people who did derive benefit from the method are likely to speak up, while those who failed are likely to have moved on and say nothing. Survivor bias alert.

Barefoot running has a strong "appeal to nature fallacy" factor. Doesn't make it wrong, but this sort of bias should be noted when calibrating the level of excitement for a particular subject https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_nature

If you're gong to do it anyway at least consult a podiatrist about early sign of trouble so you know when you're going down the wrong path. This would be way more useful than acquiring your advice from various internet forums.

My doc refused to answer the question about safe running techniques and told me to get a bike instead. Which I did.

I don't know about totally barefoot running, but I have found that switching to lightweight "barefoot-feel" shoes that have a small minimal-drop sole and a really lightweight upper have been amazing at reducing pain while actually running (e.g. shin splints) and typical running-induced injuries.

I'd previously been running a lot in "traditional" running shoes with a chunky soles and "supportive" uppers until several years ago when I switched to the like of the nike free range (no association, just a customer) and have never looked back. My persistent arch pain and shin splints stopped and never came back, and I don't ache the next day any more.

My advice would be to listen to your body and try some different options.

I have an identical experience. Switched to a very light weight zero drop shoe, it forced me to change my stride to more forefoot, and all my shin pain stopped.

I also switched to minimal footwear, it improved my running technique a lot.

The big advantage is that running barefoot or with minimal shoes forces you to run with a foot strike instead of a heel strike. When running with a forefoot strike you use your calves and achilles to absorb the impact, instead of your knees, which was a big help for me. I would always get pain in my knee when running more then 10k, but that is no longer the case. I can recommend it to everyone who is into running, at least try it a bit, you don't have to run barefoot all the time, but it is really good training.

It takes some time to adjust though, in the beginning my calves and achilles would get really sore after a short run, but after about 6 months of gradually increasing the milage I can run for hours without issues.

Before switching to minimal shoes I ran on zero drop shoes (Altra) for a few months, which I think eased the transition to minimal shoes.

Similar to how Masai eat meat blood and milk their whole lives, develop severe atherosclerosis but their blood vessels adapt through childhood so the stiffness is countered with better blood vessels. A 40 year old westerner embarking on a carnivore diet might be missing the necessary adaptations to survive.

>Masai eat meat blood and milk their whole lives, develop severe atherosclerosis

Do they really?


>A field survey of 400 Masai men and additional women and children in Tanganyika indicates little or no clinical or chemical evidence for atherosclerosis.

Yeah, young people rarely show signs of atherosclerosis because it's a disease that takes a while to accumulate.


> The coronary arteries showed intimal thickening by atherosclerosis which equaled that of old U.S. men.

This one was brilliant. If you read the whole study, even the 18 year olds are affected. One 25 year old died of congestive failure.

> The hearts and aortae of 50 Masai men were collected at autopsy. These pastoral people are exceptionally active and fit and they consume diets of milk and meat. The intake of animal fat exceeds that of American men. Measurements of the aorta showed extensive atherosclerosis with lipid infiltration and fibrous changes but very few complicated lesions. The coronary arteries showed intimal thickening by atherosclerosis which equaled that of old U.S. men. The Masai vessels enlarge with age to more than compensate for this disease. It is speculated that the Masai are protected from their atherosclerosis by physical fitness which causes their coronary vessels to be capacious.

Seems the Maasai may also be genetically protected against high cholesterol: https://www.wired.com/2012/09/milk-meat-and-blood-how-diet-d...

I'm not sure, the study has no baseline measurements. Dietary cholesterol affects serum cholesterol sublinearly. Which means that increasing the dosage couple of times won't really show.

The same trick is used by egg studies to show that additional eggs do not increase already high cholesterol.

Doing genetics is also a huge dimensionality curse. You're fitting a high dimensional object with a curve that will most certainly fit well.

I used to run barefoot. On asphalt. In the city.

Yes it takes forever to slowly build up your feet to be able to take it. It’s a brutal process but you won’t get injured if you go slow.

Yes it takes forever and a lot of mindfulness to get the technique right so you don’t destroy your knees. I got professional coaching to learn how to properly land my feet under my hips etc.

Asphalt is okay, so is grass. What always got me was pebbles on asphalt. Impossible to run on,

I stopped running barefoot for 2 reasons:

1. As my distance went beyond 10km my skin just couldn’t take it anymore. Ripped to shreds.

2. Putting shoes on slashed my running time by a lot. Simply because I could run more aggressively since the skin of my feet was protected.

PS: most proper long distance running shoes are surprisingly minimal. Gotta keep the weight down and yes it makes a difference

Did you try (athletic) taping your feet to add a protective small layer to your soles?

This is true because people want "instant" change. I've been slowly converting to a better running lifestyle and I'm now running in ZeroDrop shoes. I think going down to super thin soles is a receipt for disaster for the average office dweller who wants to run on the weekend!

Once you buy into the ideas of your "doc" and the "scientific" research behind, it is easier to control you and make you customer (aka subscriber). You pay , they receive, great commerce.

I see many recommendations for 'Born To Run'. I want to warn that the Tarahumara rarely (if ever) run on pavement. If you switch to a minimal shoe (or want to reduce injury risk) you should be primarily running on dirt or grass.

Interesting to see this on Hacker News.

I'd love to read citations for this; this is a topic of interest to me. I ran barefoot for several years (on pavement and grass; stopped because occasional thorn or glass became too obnoxious) and read various peer-reviewed running injury studies, and never found anything correlating with higher injury rates other than history of past injuries and doing "too much, too soon".

Lower extremity alignment and risk of overuse injuries in runners, Wen 1997 found a significantly decreased risk of injury with less mileage on pavement. There's no ability to see the temporal relationship here, though-- people with higher reported injuries reported running more on pavement, but causation could even be in the opposite direction.

Predicting lower-extremity injuries among habitual runners, Macera 1989 found an increased risk of severe injury running on concrete... for female runners only.

There's a few more studies "for" and a few studies "against", so I'd say the evidence is decidedly mixed. But there's at least some cause to believe that hard surfaces could be worse.

As far as minor complaints, though, who knows. I strongly believe that I feel worse after running (with athletic shoes) on concrete than softer surfaces like dirt path, etc.

Another thing which could be related: there's strong evidence that terrain can be too flat/uniform and resultant repetitive stress effects screw people up. A degenerate case of this is treadmill running.

My first 24hr race was on an asphalt track. It was my first so it was harder because of that, but it also strained my legs a lot more then my 2nd 24hr race which was on a dirt&grass track.

Aren’t those studies about running with shoes. And the discussion was about running barefoot on pavement.

You're not going to find enough high quality studies about running barefoot on pavement. This is the data we have.

One of the arguments often repeated for barefoot running is that modern shoes make it possible to run with bad techique, which increases injuries, in particular on hard ground. Running barefot with bad technique is too obviously uncomfortable from the start. This means that using studies about shoed running as an argument that barefoot running on pavement is bad for you is rather useless.

Well, the caption of the first image in the article is:

For the Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon, Ramírez and her brother told KFOR-TV they wore "sneakers for this race because they knew the pavement would be hard on their feet and knees."

So, there's a marathon winning runner corroborating, which is something.

Nah, I've been running in Five-fingers for years on pavement. As long as you take your time to ease into it so your body has time to adapt, you'll be fine.

Seconded. I've covered nearly 4,000 miles largely on tarmac/pavements in the last 2 years in Vibrams alone. I suffered with numerous running injuries in trainers before I switched. I've not had any running type injuries since I made the switch. They may not be for everyone, but they've certainly worked for me. Additionally I'm only on my 2nd pair in that time, although they are now slightly overdue for replacement.

This. Take your time. Baby steps. My wife and I use Vibrams as camp shoes for backpacking and I regularly wear them to the gym (treadmill) or around town. They've also helped me train to walk barefoot which I'll regularly do on lunch walks on the sidewalk. I've never had an injury in nearly a decade of using finger shoes casually.

It reduced my knee and hip pain dramatically switching to Vibrams.

Transitioning to barefoot style footwear has changed my life. My feet are stronger. My posture is better. I’ve been slowly retraining my body from a life of sitting and cycling, which has totally thrown my entire body out of whack.

Gotta start with your feet. They need to be able to be feet, not constrained to a tight little shoe.

I can squat heavy weight barefoot now!

Highly recommend the book, it’s a great read. (I don’t enjoy reading, so this is saying a lot)

Barefoot squatting is safe and easy compared to barefoot running. Running imposes stresses of 3x body weight, which is a lot more than most people can squat. As a person who got a runner's fracture using barefoot-style footwear, I still use them for weightlifting because the added control is important there and the forces are actually less.

People with running shoes tend to heel-strike increasing the amount of force dissipated into your joints. People who run barefoot tend to forefoot-strike, distributing a lot more of the impact into the calf muscle instead. The calf is also naturally springier than the cartilage, which makes it easier to run also -- and calf muscle grows back, cartilage much less so.

My runner's fracture is in the forefoot, just where I was supposed to land. Take my word for it, it's not a complete protection. I agree that you don't want a whole lot of foam between you and the ground under any circumstances, but you can run with good form in many kinds of shoes.

Runner's fractures in the fore-foot were something that came up when I was researching running with toe-shoes. You're definitely right that it's a risk. I've heard of it mostly happening when people don't ramp up slowly, as bones, like muscles, become stronger when you use them [1].

Switching to Vibrams and then running further and harder than usual may well cause stress fractures, though I think that has to do with the changeover from cushioned shoes, not intrinsic to the shoe or running style -- it's common for many folks in Latin America and Africa to run barefoot by default without higher incidence of fractures.

[1] http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/bonehealth/conditioni...

Chuck Tees are the official squat shoe. Anything else is blasphemous.


While you wanna dead in low heel, hard sole shoes, I find that an elevated heel helps with depth, and that's not blasphemy, that's personal preference.

I have a pair of Nike Romaleo’s that are collecting dust. Can’t imagine ever wearing them again. I miss the feeling of the hard sole doing cleans but the toe box is just so tight.

I would definitely not do deadlifts with an elevated heel. If you struggle with depth, I would address that muscle tightness issue.

Adidas? You serious? Why?

No on elevated. Definitely not lifting heavy then.

You have no idea what you're talking about.

Look at these pictures: https://9for9media.com/10-burning-powerlifting-questions-201...

With the exception of Ray, everyone is squatting wearing shoes with a lifted heel.

It’s a common lifting joke, you nerd

This is I what I get? Look, guy, you need a little heel height if you got some messed up rusty hips, stiff ankles, or some mobility problem. I’m not like that.

If you really think you have to wear a little higher heel because it makes your numbers better, then yeah, I suppose I forgot I'm on HN

I showed a link of some of the best people in the world squatting, but you're like "nah, I'm better than that". Well, all right then.

You don’t even know why people wear those shoes in the first place

You’re just looking at pictures

Good pivot.

I switched to Vivobarefoot shoes for work. So much more comfortable in the office and taking walks during lunch.

Here's on article on research that shows barefoot / minimalist shoes produce less impact force https://www.outsideonline.com/2390686/barefoot-running-biome... . I think the idea is that the area under the force curve is the same, but that barefoot has a fatter curve. So, the maximum force impact goes down and it's more gradual overall.

Concrete is particularly awful, even with decent shoes... but that's what sidewalks generally are and people generally run on sidewalks.

Even asphalt is so much better.

Concrete is awesome. No roots, flat and a predictable response (non) on hitting it. Just do not strike with your heels first and train slowly and methodically(not just running, this is true for walking as well).

One thing I like about running barefoot is that it forces you to ramp up slowly, because the soles of your feet are the limiting factor (blisters, abrasion, etc. ) If you're already in good shape and want to get into running it can be tempting to start out with long runs instead of following the +10%/week recommendation.

For the pavement: I recommend the opposite. Running barefoot or in almost barefoot shoes on pavement is the most honest thing you could do while practicing barefoot running. You will receive direct feedback to your motion. Later if you "broke in" your tendons and muscle can handle the pavement easily. Doing this for years regularly now. Running on dirt or grass could be dangerous to your bare feet because you cannot see if there is something harmful you could probably step on. But if you have some protection on your feet, sandals for example, this is not a problem of course, but still not ideal for practicing.

> almost barefoot shoes on pavement is the most honest thing you could do while practicing barefoot running

I'd second that, though I'm a very casual runner.

I grew up running in flip-flops ("hawaii slippers") & once I tried to be more serious about it, all my running injuries were from a Nike which let me run faster than I should have. I liked the fact that I was doing faster 5ks, but invariably the longer runs would injure me.

The effect of barefoot shoes was to slow me down to a more "normal" pace and a normal stride - if I was running with bad form, my heel would hurt before my knees and my bridge would hurt before my shins.

The pain comes early and fast, which is sort of like a strict teacher when it comes to running form.

It's been seven years of barefoot & zero-drop shoes, with almost no knee or shin injuries. I'm way slower, but I feel happier, because it feels like I'm floating up hills instead of pushing myself up.

I love this book so much that I bought a dozen copies and gave them out as Christmas presents back in 2009! To this day, my wife and I joke about the seriousness of running hydration because neither of us would ever want to drink out of a mud puddle [book reference]. I always bring a water filtration device on trail runs over 15 miles because of this book.

Reminds me of the story of a 61 year winning the inaugural Sydney to Melbourne ultra marathon in his farming boots:

Short version: https://elitefeet.com/the-legend-of-cliff-young

Long-form: https://www.smh.com.au/national/when-age-and-modesty-won-the...

Wow, I've never heard of that dude before. What a legend!

Didn't sleep. Didn't even know there was a prize!

It's probably covered in the articles, but Cliff changed how everyone approached multi day ultra marathons. I was a kid when he hit the news and didn't appreciate what a legend he was. I only recently read about what he did and was blown away. Read the articles.

That longform writeup is a great read!

> [1983] was the time of the Pritikin diet, the one before the Liver Cleansing diet which was the one before the Atkins diet. It was also the era of The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, a best-seller which inspired tens of thousands of people to join fun runs where they jostled each other in the search for solitude.

Running was the new source of eternal life. Eventually, people found that their knees were unable to read all those books about running. They were forced indoors into aerobics and onto circuits.

I recently learned that one of the elderly receptionists where I work used to do marathons in high heels.

It's amazing what people can do when they really want to do something.

I've been running ultras for a number of years now, and have suffered from many injuries, the worst being a stress fracture in my hip.

The last time I saw a sports doctor, he gave me the best advice to date:

"Run, but not every day, on grass if you can"

That was over two years ago, and I've been racing and running happily injury free since.

Ultras just seem like the ultimate in self-torture to me. Then again, I have very flat feet and am extremely prone to shin splints so all running is self-torture to me.

I just finished reading 'Born to Run' that talks about Tarahumara and ultrarunning. I would recommend it for anyone looking for more info on this.

I just finished healing all of my chronic injuries after years of long distance running. I would recommend anyone to do sprints and weightlifting instead.

As a counterpoint, I've been doing long-distance running for around 15 years (from a range of 30-85 miles per week) with 0 chronic injuries, 0 major injuries, and only been plagued by relatively minor injuries. I don't think blanket statements like this based off of personal experience are super useful.

I guess if you do some stretching before/after, and some body weight workout, the amount of injuries you might suffer go down. Or did you just ran every time, without extra work?

I'm on day 1101 of running daily, on average about 7k per day, mostly on pavement, in vibram five fingers. I frequently do very slow or very short runs (think 2k) when I feel that I need it, it's all about listening to your body and noticing what's just regular wear/tear and what is injury territory. I rarely stretch, but I focus a lot on running form and making sure to mainly load muscles but not joints during running.

Not the person you asked, and I have paid attention to this. I found "Run for Your Life" [1][2] to have useful insights and tips. The biggest one for me was starting with foot landing, where the outside of the foot near the little toe hits first, it spreads out nicely to start taking body weight. Then letting the rest of the outside of the foot land until the heel touches, and then somewhat relax the calf muscle and pull the heel back and slightly roll the ankle in, so the big toe is loaded for the push back and lift off. I play around with variations and sometimes, it becomes almost effortless, almost floating along, even on hard surface.

[1] https://runforyourlifebook.com

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSIDRHUWlVo

I did a lot of auxiliary work when I was really competitive (mostly college), including weight lifting, sprint drills, dynamic stretching, hurdle drills. Generally, though, I usually just run (although this consists of a variety of running workouts). I never (literally never) do any static stretching beforehand.

In my experience, the most important thing is to make sure you build up the amount of running (quality and quantity) in a proper progression (don't do too much mileage or too much speedwork too fast).

I'm 56 years old, run 2500-3000 miles per year, and have many friends who do the same. I don't know of anyone with a "chronic" injury from running, and to be honest I don't even know what that might be.

"Overuse" injuries are quite common, though. They're injuries that you get from doing more than your body is capable of at the time (often just trying to do "too much too soon"). These injuries go away when you reduce the stress on your body. They can last a long time if you continue to overstress your body by running too much (or failing to fix problems in your running form, which is a form of that), but they are not what most people would think of as "chronic" injuries (that stick with you indefinitely). You have ongoing overuse injuries only if you continually run more than your body can handle.

I would also add that just because you get an overuse injury at, say, 40 miles/week of training doesn't mean you can never run more than that injury free. You need to reduce stress, run less, let your body strengthen (or fix running form problems) and then slowly increase training again. Years ago I had issues when building average miles up over around 30 miles/week. They took some time to work through. Now I run average 50+ mile weeks for most of the year and I'm perfectly fine (actually feel much stronger and in better health than before). I need to be careful during periods when I'm ramping up to 80+ miles/week for an upcoming race, increasing stress on my body. Running injury free can require a lot of problem solving.

As an aside, I did run down at the Caballo Blanco race with the Tarahumara down in the Copper Canyons last March. They changed the course this year and made it a lot more "technical" (more trail running with lots of rocks). The winner of the race, Miguel Lara, wore running shoes, not huarache sandals. He has won many times before wearing huaraches, but chose to switch to shoes this year because of the increased technicality (primarily rocks) of the course.

I run roughly the same amount injury-free in regular old Nike sneakers. As you say, the key is slow build up.

Virtually every non-runner I know, whenever I mention something about running or racing, tells me they "can't/don't want to run" because it will "destroy their knees" when in fact runners have stronger knees than non-runners [1].

It'd be if you were a weakling and said, "I don't want to lift weights because that will destroy my joints." If you lifted weights too heavy too soon, yes, but the way to getting stronger is through slow progression. Which people don't want to do.

It's just a matter of consistency and steady effort. Beginnners always rave to me about their 17-20 mile long runs when my question is "How many miles per week have you run? And for how many weeks in a row?"

The Five Fingers stuff, glad that works for a small segment of people (I even own a pair) but for most it's just going to end in stress fractures.

[1] https://www.runnersworld.com/news/a20804690/runners-have-muc...

The (not)funny thing is that everyone in my long running community were telling exactly the same thing about injuries.. And, at closer examination, everyone lied (including myself). "I am happy, nobody has injuries here either".. Except when people start to vanish for months and turns out they were struggling with some chronic issue for a looong time before that, "working out" the pain (yeah, chronic injuries tend to vanish into the work out, only to pop out later), until the pain became too big to bear with.

Final revelations came when I discovered how many people I knew were on steroids (to heal fast) and painkillers, all amateur runners and cyclists.

I know people who are healing from chronic injuries from years of sprinting and weightlifting. ;-) Everything in moderation.

Especially weightlifting.

It boils down to this, any workout you do, you really have to do it properly. As well as, like you said, in moderation. Any reputable physical trainer or therapist will tell you that recovery days are critical. (And if a physical trainer tells you that you can do all this weightlifting or distance running without recovery days, then that's your clue that they are probably not reputable.)

People are different. Training regimens and recovery methods and nutrition different. It's foolish to generalize in this way.

Yup. We may have been born to run, but we also weren't born to live to 80... Have to consider how the activity affects our body's long term health.

Yet, we also have to consider the joy we get from running and what we would be doing if we weren't running. If you told me at the age of 40 that long-distance running would take 5 years off my life, I wouldn't care. Running, makes me happier. It helps with my mental health and because I'm a trail runner, I'm constantly out in nature visiting new locations and conquering new challenges. By contrast I also fly fish for the many of the same reasons. Fly fishing doesn't fulfill me in the same way that trail running does. But dying with a fly rod in hand or running up a mountain would be a great way to go!

Just curious, but how early in your long distance running career did you start working with a PT?

I've found that when most people think of long distance running they focus on pushing themselves, but in practice I've found that a huge part of the sport is avoiding and properly managing injuries. It's a bizarre sport because getting injured is an essential part of it.

Myself and many of my running friends have started working more frequently with PTs and I've personally found it really, really helps identify and fixing the real cause of injury. But it sounds like you have much more experience then me so I am genuinely curious if you made heavy use of PT and still succumbed to chronic injury.

I think there's a strange value to slow and strong efforts.

Snap! Just finished this last week too. An emotional rollercoaster and really interesting to boot. It inspired me to go out and buy a pair of thin-soled running shoes.

I don't want to discourage doing that (I've been using those for ~10 years and love them), but please be very careful getting ramped up with thin-soled shoes. They tend to put a lot of strain on your calves and ankles if you aren't used to running in them. Even for you're an experienced runner and in good shape, going more than a mile or two in thin-soled shoes can sometimes really mess up -- or even strain -- your calves if you haven't used them before.

I can attest to this from personal experience. It's worth trying to gradually move from a heel-strike style to running more on the balls of your feet while using cushioned running shoes before changing thin-soled shoes. The first time I tried doing this I went too far and my calves were so stuff I couldn't walk properly for three days. Although I quite like running in thin-soled Vivo Barefoot shoes now, I'm thinking of changing to zero-drop cushioned shoes because I run on tarmac / concrete and found that thin-soled shoes seem to hurt my feet a bit more without any noticeable gain.

Is it just me or are thin-soled shoes harder to run in than barefoot?

In what respect? (There's like 12 ways this could be going, so I don't want to jump in the wrong one.)

Just how quickly my feet / calves get tired (I'm not a regular runner, so that isn't very long).

Right about when I turned 40, I took my 15-year old daughter and her three high school friends to Disneyworld. After the first day of trying to keep up with them, I bought myself my first pair of New Balance. I'm never going back.

Big ups to all athletes that were involved with this, but a 50k is only about 10% longer than a regular marathon and feels awkward to get "ultramarathon" status. Great athleticism regardless, I just intuitively thought ultra means double marathon or above

50K is actually closer to 20% more than a regular marathon. Also, as per wikipedia:

An ultramarathon, also called ultra distance or ultra running, is any footrace longer than the traditional marathon length of 42.195 kilometres (26.219 mi).

Marathons are also generally on flatter ground aren't they? This is trail running, so off-road with much more variable ground to deal with, and often much more climbing and descending (although I don't know this race in particular).

Isn't ultramarathon just the category for anything longer than a marathon?



I love the concept behind this.

I have thought for a while now that we are not necessarily guaranteed to see the best basketball players in the world perform in the NBA, nor are we guaranteed to see the fastest runners in the world win the 100 meter dash in the Summer Olympics.

We can only be sure that we are witnessing the best basketball players in the world who are motivated by money, and the fastest runners who are motivated by fame.

Considering that both of these things require years of training and dedication to be the best, I think it is quite likely that only career basketball players and runners are going to be the best.

>We can only be sure that we are witnessing the best basketball players in the world who are motivated by money, and the fastest runners who are motivated by fame.

I think that's a pretty big stretch.

First of all, not all basketball players/runners are motivated by money/fame. If you are really good at something competitive you want to do it against other people who are also good. So it's highly likely that the best people want to compete against others who are at there level.

Also with all the modern training, dieting and everything modern athletes do, I think it's pretty laughable to think someone can just 'walk up' and be better than them.

You have a good point, distance running is the exception as far as I can tell, in that this has actually happened more than once now, I can't remember his name but the Australian ultra marathon runner who came out of nowhere from being a shepherd or something and more recently this article, people showing up with a new technique doesn't really happen in other sports like this, let me know if I'm missing some examples though, other sports tend to have far less variables I think, ultra marathon runners make a lot of decisions that sprinters and velodrome cyclists don't have to or at least they don't have as much of a cumulative effect.

But then i do also think the guy above you has a point in that we can be pretty much certain based on the biases we know about that we're probably overlooking some excellent people in big sports just based on failures in our selection methods. There's no reason that children born in September should be better at sports and get better degrees, but they are over represented because of the way we select kids for sports based on school year, if you're older in the year at school, the benefits carry for a long time, and we've probably missed some potentially incredible athletes because of minor circumstances like that which caused them either to not get into it or not get the training they need. But that's not quite the same as them _currently_ being better outside of the competitions. Still bothers me though.

I think it depends on whether by the "best" you mean the best potential person, or best current person. At the levels these sports are competed at now, I think natural talent by itself can in no way stand at the top. It takes natural talent and then dedicating a significant portion of your life to cultivating that talent.

So, does the potential for a faster runner exist out there now? Undoubtedly (this is a safe bet, since records are still being broken). Is some street ball player going to walk in and dominate the NBA, or some weekend runner going to storm the Olympics next time? I doubt it.

> We can only be sure that we are witnessing the best basketball players in the world who are motivated by money

I wouldn't say that. As an NBA fan, I feel that players that are motivated by money fall off once they make it to the league. They lose their passion, fall out of shape, and waste their potential. The best players are the ones that are so passionate about basketball that they don't know what they would do without it, are able to stay out of legal trouble, and are able to stay relatively injury free.

American football is much the same way, but with more emphasis on staying injury free. Sadly when they retire, if their body is wrecked from the sport and they don't have anything else they're passionate about, they often turn to suicide.

Also for decades now, many NBA players have mentioned in interviews and whatnot that they know players that are better than players in the league, but never made it because of drugs/crime/other off the court issues.

On a side note, auto racing has a different problem. We don't necessarily see the best drivers in each racing series because it takes a lot of talent AND funding to get to that point. There are likely many drivers that are more talented but never had the funding to reach the highest levels.

> We can only be sure that we are witnessing the best basketball players in the world who are motivated by money

The best players in the NBA are not just motivated by money. They're motivated to be recognized as one of the best to ever do it.

People do come out of nowhere occasionally. But as somebody noted above (and I agreed), the times given are not on their face especially impressive.

Of course there are all kinds of factors affecting the likelihood of the best making it to the championship--injuries, or a bad day in the qualifying rounds, to name a couple.

Because of my medical condition, I live in sandals and have for years. If I wear closed shoes, my feet soon smell and itch.

When I first went homeless, I thought I would have to get "real shoes" at some point or I would lose toes to frost bite. We crossed the country on foot and catching tides and we were above 7000 feet above sea level three times. Even with snow on the ground and freezing temps, I never did get "real shoes" though I ended up with some temporary skin damage and wore socks for a few weeks to protect me feet and let them heal.

I don't expect to, say, live in Alaska ever. But it's been quite surprising how well sandals and similar slip on type shoes work in winter if the local climate isn't too severely cold.

> She doesn't have energy sweets or gel or the expensive shoes so many use for running in the mountains.

I've really been wondering if gels actually help. Could honey work just as well? It's cheaper and tastes much better.

A lot of it is mental. There's been studies that shown that if you simply giving someone under exertion something sweet tasting (but with no calories), it will still boost their performance. That study was done on pro level cyclists.

I think you do have to replenish eventually. Around mile 20 for me but I think it depends a lot on your pace, how you've trained, and overall distance.

Gels and chews are very compact so it's easy to carry on long runs.

Energy gels with honey exist. It goes into your blood very quickly and tend to create a peak of sugar after which you don't feel very well. So better to have this type of quick sugar towards the end of the race.

It's really about getting sugar the most efficiently and rapidly into your body without upsetting the stomach. Anecdotally it feels like I really do get energy boosts.

Honey could work just as well I recon the difference is around digesting it.

Most contain stimulants and maybe some amino acids, so they're not really identical. It's all about how your body deals with those chemicals, especially when under exercise stress.

There are plenty of recipes out there. Molasses is a popular addition because of its potassium content.

We use a mixture of strawberries, dates, and lime juice. Sometimes we mix in bananas. Soooooo good!

It’s a 50k; Ive raced with them in 100’s and theres a reason they frequently have cloth between the sandals and their feet.

My personal experience if moving to zero drop shoes was positive but took about a year before my ankles felt OK.

> “They are naturally the best runners in Mexico,” says Jiménez. In fact, the clue is in their name, Rarámuri. Rara means feet and muri means to run. The Rarámuri are a people of “light feet” or “running feet”

I can’t help but feel that in running, our biology starts to bleed through in the nature versus nurture debates. Clearly some people and groups of people have both the exceptional nature and nurture to do things that might otherwise seem impossible.

They have been known for this since at least 1867 for their first organized ultramarathon, and then finally attracted the world public in the 20s.


I’ll second the recommendation for “Born to Run” (mentioned in the article). Amazing story and inspiring to see what human beings are capable of.

The Tarahumara are also known for being able to hunt deer and turkeys by running after them until the animal collapses due to exhaustion!

People do that all over the world. Here's an example of a Kenyan farmer who was tired of a cheetah catching his goats: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-24953910

It can be done by anyone in reasonable shape. Humans have outstanding stamina. Fun fact: the dog is a close second.

There was a good BBC doc that featured this:


Do you have a source for that? I would be interested to read more about it.

Reminds me of the basketball team of kids from the Triqui tribe[0]


Maybe it's their natural shyness but I always wonder why some of the older tarahumara runners or someone close don't organize them like the kenians do for road running, but in trail runs across USA and Mexico. They can easily score some victories/podiums and share the won money/goods for their benefit.

Recently there was news about untrained 19 year old from India running 100 meters in 11 seconds barefoot.


The body language of the last picture in that article is terrible. He's grabbing her on both arms, firmly, and her expression is totally neutral. She's stronger and faster than you, dude, back off.

I'm glad I'm not the only one that noticed that, but also that seems to be her "default face". Looks at the other photo of her being victorious. Stoic, almost.

Yeah, hopefully that's not because she's just commonly surrounded by men like that.

This is a blow for shoe companies. They create an impression that Shoes are mandatory for running. Simply not true. In fact I found shoes to be very inconvenient, except in bad weather such as snow or cold.

> To keep hydrated, the Tarahumara runners eat pinole, a corn paste, which is also part of their daily diet.

Expect ethically sourced organic pinole products to hit the shelves anytime now.

I have a plan to keep running into my 80's. But of that is foot, knee, and hip mechanics. To that end, I use Altra branded running shoes.

7 hours to run 31 miles? Is that right?

It's useless to try to judge that pace. It depends on the terrain, which is hard to get a feel for from afar. We can assume there's elevation and uneven terrain, but to what extent?

But first out of 500 ultra-marathoners from 12 countries means it's probably a very good pace.

That's what it says, and No, 7 hours for that distance is not particularly fast. Of course it doesn't say what the terrain is like.

That averages to 4.4 miles per hour or 13.62 minutes per mile.

I love my Earthrunners! I almost wear these everyday except if it's raining or too cold outside.

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