Gentle Running and Living

by Dr Patrick Salmon, PharmD, PhD

Member of the Barefoot Runners Society

Founding Member of the Tarahumara Spirit   

Be gentle

to yourself

and others!

“Life is hard enough to add extra suffering to it”. We propose here a way to build a stronger, healthier and happier self through gentle running. Then, this “ascetic hedonism” can be translated into several aspects of life, to humbly contribute to a better world.

Under construction

The Gentle Guide to Ultra Running

Running is a child’s game, if you run like a child runs.

Now that you are running regularly, you may have noticed that running is not hard but pleasurable, as long as you ease into it.

Running is a child’s game, if you run like a child runs, i.e. run when you find it fun, walk when you feel tired, stop when you want to blow a dandelion flower or take a picture of a butterfly, eat wild berries, etc

If you run like a child runs, then, you like running in forests, in mountains, alongside rivers, etc.

And you do not see why you should stop before dusk, and even later.

Well, that is Trail Running.

Trail Running is typically distances from 30-50 km, up to 170 km or more, and in mountains, so you may have to climb a total 1’500 m to 10’000 m or more.

But distance and ascent parameters are not the point here.

Point #1 is finding an excuse to go running in beautiful landscapes, eating, drinking, sharing, filling your eyes and body and brains with long-lasting memories.

Point #2 is also to have a long-lasting effort that will force you into easiness and gentleness, as well as management of energy, food and drink, otherwise, you will never be able to finish.

Point #3 is to train gently, progressively, and consistently all year long, so that you build yourself a super strong body and mind. For me, that is the most important point. My goal is to get progressively stronger (muscles, joints, immune system, mind) without hurting myself. It thus need humility and gently progression, avoiding each time exhaustion. You have to find yourself the volume of exercise that suits you in that respect. If you go far, you will accumulate fatigue, and lose the whole benefit. You cannot recover from one session to another, your immune system will start to fail, you will catch microbes, etc. So the point is to get stronger and healthier when you train for Trail Running that if you do not.

You have to find the best balance for you, depending on your intrinsic fitness, your professional activity, your personal life. For me, I know that I will never be able to train for a true Ultra (170 km), because it requires too much time outside all year long. Also, I am not sure I can sustain an effort of more than 40 hours (given my estimated average speed for that distance) without adverse effects.

So I opted for a medium Trail, such as the Eiger Trail E51, with only? 51 km and 3200 m ascent. But for me, that is just fine. I trained for it and finished it without any muscle soreness after (in 2013 and 2014). And I still have a good 10% of runners behind me when I finish after 11 of 12 hours of “running” in the mountains. And I feel stronger as I train progressively for the event.

And, each year, the more gently I train and run, the faster I get. Eiger 2013, 12h14 - Eiger 2014, 11h38, Eiger 2015, 10h58.

So now, how do I train? >  Click here for my latest personal plan