Secrets Behind The Tarahumara Tribe's Running.
The Tarahumara people, also known as the Rarámuri, are a native Mexican tribe renowned for their incredible running abilities. They have been the subject of fascination for many years, as their ability to run for long distances, often covering 50 or100 miles in a single day, seems almost superhuman to may outside the ultra running world. My work as a running coach has taken me all over the world, recently I spent some time running with some of these amazing runners, raced against them, and spoke at length about their lifestyles and their ‘gift’ for running, I wanted to learn from them for my own and my athletes running goals. In this article, we will explore why the Tarahumara tribe runs and the cultural, spiritual, and physical factors that contribute to their running prowess.
Cultural and Spiritual Significance of Running
Running is deeply embedded in the Tarahumara culture and is often associated with their spiritual beliefs. The Tarahumara people believe that running is a way to connect with the natural world and with their ancestors. They also believe that running can bring them closer to their gods and spirits, who they believe reside in the mountains and other natural features of their environment.
Running is also an important part of Tarahumara social life. They participate in running events, such as races and relay races, which are often accompanied by music, dancing, and other forms of celebration. These events provide opportunities for the Tarahumara people to bond with each other and with other communities, reinforcing their sense of identity and belonging.
The Tarahumara people’s incredible running abilities are also due to physical factors, such as their biomechanics and lifestyle. The Tarahumara people have a unique gait that is characterized by a forefoot or midfoot strike, which minimizes the impact on their joints and reduces the risk of injury. They also have strong leg muscles, which allow them to maintain a consistent pace over long distances.
The Tarahumara lifestyle also contributes to their physical fitness. They live in remote areas and rely on subsistence agriculture, which involves a lot of physical labor. They also walk long distances every day to fetch water, gather firewood, and tend to their crops and livestock. This active lifestyle ensures that they remain physically fit and healthy, which allows them to run long distances with ease.
The Tarahumara people’s diet is another important factor that contributes to their running prowess. They consume a diet that is rich in whole foods, such as beans, squash, and corn, which provide them with the necessary nutrients to sustain long-distance running. They also consume pinole, a traditional Mexican food made from ground roasted maize, which is high in carbohydrates and provides sustained energy during long runs.
Finally, community support is another important factor that contributes to the Tarahumara’s running abilities. The Tarahumara people live in close-knit communities and rely on each other for support. This community support extends to their running, with family members and friends often accompanying them on long runs or providing them with food and water during races. This support ensures that the Tarahumara people remain motivated and encouraged, even during the most challenging runs.
In conclusion, the Tarahumara people’s running abilities are the result of a combination of cultural, spiritual, physical, and social factors. Their unique biomechanics, active lifestyle, and nutritious diet provide them with the necessary physical fitness and energy to run long distances. Their spiritual beliefs and cultural traditions reinforce the importance of running and provide motivation and inspiration for their feats of endurance. Finally, their close-knit communities provide the support and encouragement necessary to overcome even the most difficult runs. The Tarahumara people serve as a reminder of the power of the human body and spirit and offer inspiration to runners and non-runners alike.
Picture with Arnulfo Quimare (The famous Tarahumara runner from the book “Born to Run”