The Thursday Thesis 7/12/2017
Faster is Easier...
When I discovered barefoot running a few years ago I read a wonderful book called “Born to Run: The Hidden Tribe, the Ultra-Runners, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen” by Christopher MacDougal (there’s a link to it at the bottom of The Thesis)
The book caused me to throw out my expensive bouncy “running shoes” and - by using what nature had given me - I was able to reclaim running, just for fun.
Before barefoot, I could pound out a half mile and my knees would start to hurt from the stomp, stomp, stomp of my feet on the road. That was a real problem, and I’d never really understood why – after all, I’d bought Nike’s finest, tried the best of Adidas, Asics, New Balance and all the rest.
None of them really helped, so I came to the conclusion that I was the problem. I reasoned that all those billions of dollars of running shoe research, the stability devices, airbags, were doing their best to protect me, so I was obviously defective: I was the problem.
But the problem wasn’t me – it was my conventional running shoes.
That piece of the puzzle slipped into place with a click one night as I ran with my loony-tune running buddy.
It was dark in the gorge as we ran beside the river. Somewhere off to the right an owl screeched , sending echoes into the inky sky.
Then something else caught my ear.
It wasn’t the steady thump-thump-thump of my buddy’s shoes on the tarmac that I heard – it was the silence of my own footfalls.
According to the Apache natives of the USA “The best runners leave no tracks”, and I’d like to add to that “...and make no sound”.
And it was all in the book: the injuries, the shoes, and the silence.
The author’s coach told him not to worry about speed, that would take care of itself – no coach I ever met told a trainee that!
But the coach wasn’t kidding. His approach was radical - revolutionary, even. He advised runners first to make it easy, because if that was all they got, it wasn’t so bad.
Then he said “now make it smoooooooooth.......”
Of course, if it’s easy and you are smooth, you will be fast – won’t you?
But when it’s easy and smooth your feet seem to caress the ground beneath them, reach out to touch it, and ease into contact with it, making almost no sound.
That’s our evolutionary advantage taking over: easy, smooth....fast...
It’s the same with my guitar students – easy...smooth...fast...
That’s mastery writ large: easy...smooth...fast...
So I teach them to lighten-up and make it easy, then I invite them to make it smooth and elegant, then to notice how much more quickly they can play.
Easy, smooth, fast.
Works every time.
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The Thursday Thesis shares ideas which I think are worth spreading.
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