Shane Benzie has been dubbed the "Indiana Jones" of the running world.
'In search of perfect running form, he's met indigenous peoples in the Amazon, studied barefoot tribes in Malaysia, marveled at the strength of the Sherpas in the Himalayas, and been track-side at the world's best distance athletes' high-altitude training camps in Iten, Kenya.
This web of elastic tissue that runs beneath our skin and runs through our entire bodies has piqued Benzie's interest, and it's a topic he delves into in depth in his new book, The Lost Art of Running.
Fascia is often overlooked by runners, who are more concerned with stamina and muscle.
Benzie became interested in fascia after visiting Bekoji, Ethiopia, also known as "the town of runners." He describes himself as a former "ultra shuffler" plagued by injury.
Make a bowWhen Benzie shows me some trackside footage of runners he's studied in Iten, Kenya, I'm struck by two things: first, they appear to be much faster than the video of my own running he's just shown me.
'How we sit, stand, and walk has a significant impact on how we run.
'So pushing our chests out to create the 'bow' posture has an elastic benefit, both on the run and in other aspects of our lives.'
What we do with our arms during a run is just as important as what we do with our legs.
'One of the most common traits I see in runners is wayward arms,' Benzie says, 'and it's one of the most important improvements you can make to your running.'
'If running were a muscle-building competition, the East Africans would finish last,' he says.
Benzie believes that no single exercise, such as squats or single-leg deadlifts, can adequately simulate running.
Instead, hit the hills if you want to build the specific strength required for running.
'If you're doing a strength exercise that doesn't account for running-specific factors like deceleration, impact, or range of motion, it could contaminate your "Software" because it has nothing to do with the sporting movement,' he says.
Elastic thinkingIn running, as in many other sports, the mind plays an important role.
You must believe you're an elastic, dynamic runner to move like one, just as Peter Pan must believe he can fly before taking to the skies.
Shane has shown me that as runners, we have a choice between seeing ourselves as a muscle-bound mammal hunched over and stuck to the ground, or as a dynamic, connected homo sapien floating in a sea of elastic energy.
Read the original article "What exactly is fascia, and how can it benefit your running?" at https://www.runnersworld.com/uk/training/a35160321/what-is-fascia/