Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.


Might Have to Try Some Barefoot Running

"Everyone thinks they know how to run, but it's really as nuanced as any other activity," Eric told me. "Ask most people and they'll say, 'People just run the way they run.' That's ridiculous. Does everyone just swim the way they swim?" For every other sport, lessons are fundamental; you don't go out and start slashing away with a golf club or sliding down a mountain on skis until someone takes you through the steps and teaches you proper form. If not, inefficiency is guaranteed and injury is inevitable.

"Running is the same way," Eric explained. "Learn it wrong, and you'll never know how good it can feel." He grilled me for details about the race I'd seen at the Tarahumara school. ("The little wooden ball," he mused. "The way they learn to run by kicking it; that can't be an accident.") Then he offered me a deal; he'd get me ready for Caballo's race, and in return, I'd vouch for him with Caballo.

"If this race comes off, we have to be there," Eric urged. "It'll be the greatest ultra of all time."

"I just don't think I'm built for running fifty miles," I said.

"Everyone is built for running," he said.

"Every time I up my miles, I break down."

"You won't this time."

"Should I get the orthotics?"

"Forget the orthotics."

I was dubious, but Eric's absolute confidence was winning me over. "I should probably cut weight first to make it easier on my legs."

"Your diet will change all by itself. Wait and see."

"How about yoga? That'll help, yeah?"

"Forget yoga. Every runner I know who does yoga gets hurt."

This was sounding better all the time. "You really think I can do it?"

"Here's the truth," Eric said. "You've got zero percent margin of error. But you can do it." I'd have to forget everything I knew about running and start over from the beginning.

"Get ready to go back in time," Eric said. "You're going tribal."


"The Tarahumara aren't great runners," Eric messaged me as we began my second month of those workouts. "They're great athletes, and those two things are very different." Runners are assembly-line workers; they become good at one thing--moving straight ahead at a steady speed--and repeat that motion until overuse fritzes out the machinery. Athletes are Tarzans. Tarzan swims and wrestles and jumps and swings on vines. He's strong and explosive. You never know what Tarzan will do next, which is why he never gets hurt.

"Your body needs to be shocked to become resilient," Eric explained. Follow the same daily routine, and your musculosketetal system quickly figures out how to adapt and go on autopilot. But surprise it with new challenges--leap over a creek, commando-crawl under a log, sprint till your lungs are bursting--and scores of nerves and ancillary muscles are suddenly electrified into action.

For the Tarahumara, that's just daily life. The Tarahumara step into the unknown every time the leave the cave, because they never know how fast they'll have to sprint after a rabbit, how much firewood they'll have to haul home, how tricky the climbing will be during a winter storm. The first challenge they face as kids is surviving on the edge of a cliff; their first and lifelong way to play is the ball game, which is nothing if not an exercise in uncertainty. You can't drive a wooden ball over a jumble of rocks unless you're ready to lunge, lope, backpedal, sprint, and leap in and out of ditches.

Before the Tarahumara run long, they get strong. And if I wanted to stay healthy, Eric warned me, I'd better do likewise. So instead of stretching before a run, I got right to work. Lunges, pushups, jump squats, crunches; Eric had me powering through a half hour of raw strength drills every other day, with nearly all of them on a fitness ball to sharpen my balance and fire those supportive ancillary muscles. As soon as I finished, it was off to the hills. "There's no sleepwalking your way up a hill," Eric pointed out. Long climbs were an exercise in shock and awe, forcing me to focus on form and shift gears like a Tour de France cyclist. "Hills are speedwork in disguise," Frank shorter used to say.


From Born to Run


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