The New Yorker and Alberto Salazar catch up with the secret the Tarahumara have known for 10,000 years:
Walker also began to notice some uncanny similarities among the very best runners. The fastest finishers had a higher thigh drive, for one thing; at its apex, their femur bone was almost parallel to the ground, like the front legs of a bounding deer. They also slapped the ground so quickly with their forefoot that the contact seemed almost incidental. According to Walker, the short slap transfers force more efficiently, shooting it from the ground forward into the pelvis, rather than allowing it to dissipate in the flex of the foot. The effect, Walker says, is like “a pogo stick with a stiff spring.” He explained, “You want the chain of force to travel from the ground through the body with minimal energy loss. That’s what it means to run efficiently.”
If the form he’s describing sounds familiar, it’s exactly the technique for barefoot running.