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.

This page is in constant evolution since I update it regularly with feedbacks from my students of all levels (beginners to below-3h-marathoners.

So, come back often for updates!

The Gentle Guide to become a Natural Runner

I am a slow runner with multiple injuries (operated vertebral disk, hip arthrosis, etc),

I discovered Natural Running in 2012. It took me 2 years to complete my transition from Wumper to Runner.

Now, all my pains are gone and I could run my 1st Marathon in Huaraches in Paris 2014.

However, I realized from my experience and also from feedbacks from my students that this transition is not easy.

The main obstacle is an atrophy of the Calf Muscles and the Achilles’ tendons, even in regular Marathoners. This is because the Wumping (favored by high-heel fat shoes) generates faulty biomechanics in which the Calf Muscles and the Achilles’ tendons are not used properly.

Essentially, if you cannot run without thumping, this means that your lower legs are too weak for that given speed. So, slow down until you get stronger!

If you have run correctly for your whole life, because you are a Kenyan, or because you did not meet someone who taught you the wrong way of running (unfortunately, most vendors are clueless about human biomechanics), then you still have functional Calf Muscles and Achilles’ tendons.

In the other situation, your Calf Muscles and the Achilles’ tendons are atrophied, and that is the main and only reason for injuries during this transition phase.

As you see on this page, I propose 2 ways to learn Natural Running. One method is for Newbies and patient Runners. The other method is for Runners who “need” to run a lot all year round and cannot wait several months to have lower legs strong enough to sustain their current week mileage in Natural Running.

The 4 Corner Stones

Progressive Transition (less Gentle)

You “need” to run several hours per week. This program allows to progressively incorporate Natural Running sessions in your regular running sessions, until you become a Natural Runner.

Stretchings and Massages (Essential)

Here is a list of essential stretching protocols amd massages to help your calf muscle and Achilles’ tendon cope with the extra stress of Natural Running. If you practice them gently and regularly, you will build a solid lower leg for the rest of your life.

Barefoot Running to “Cleanse” your Running Form

Whether you want to become a true barefoot runner or not, regular short barefoot sessions are invaluable to teach you how to run correctly. Your bare foot is your best teacher to have the best running form and correct ALL bad moves.

Gentle Transition

You are ready to run only the distance and at the speed your lower legs can sustain. This implies patience, humility and courage, and 6 months to a year until you can run 10 k or more, natural style.