Lessons from African runners

What does it mean for the rest of us?

It was in 2004 that I first got fascinated by African long distance runners. It was this year that my city, Mumbai, hosted its first international marathon. I vividly remember spending the next few weeks trying to mimic their running style in my neighborhood park. Since then, whenever I have indulged in long distance running, I have wondered what makes them a dominating force in this sport.

A few weeks back, I chanced upon a documentary on this. You can find this here. The story of Bro. Colm O’Connell, arguably the greatest athletics coach ever, has fascinated me. While there are many takeaways from the documentary, what stood out for me were the four things which he looks for in his athletes, which he abbreviates as F.A.S.T.

  • Focus on the track
  • Alignment of the body
  • Stability of the core
  • Timing of the feet with the ground

Anyone who has ever run more than 15 minutes at a stretch can relate to this. He goes on further to say how he tries to build an appreciation for athletics as a discipline, with its nuances, and not just as physical exertion as most view it. To achieve this, training sessions are kept relaxed and not intense.

For most of us, competitive long distance running maybe out of reach. But the lessons may hold true nonetheless. In our everyday pursuits, while its obviously important to focus on our goals, its even more imperative to be relaxed about it. Similarly, it’s essential to cancel out the noise outside and nurture a balance within.

Sounds tough, doesn’t it? Well, as I see it, the only real way to imbibe the spirit of these lessons is to actually experience them.

It’s time to wear your running shoes then!
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