With time various topics, most connected to the 'ancient ways,' will be covered. Some of these might be controversial in nature - you're most welcome to contribute.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Running with the 'Unbearable Lightness of Being ...'

We forget where we come from ... who we are and the purpose of our design.  Our feet, the most amazing design, never ever supposed to be covered by a shoe.  Our skin ... one large cooling system, never to be covered in the heat of the day.

Today I ran 7km's in the heat of the day ... with boots, what I call a 'military run.'  I've been playing around with light packs ... especially for running, enough for 3 days.  The carrying of arrows and bow, while on a fast Bushman trot.  In the heat of the day, a pack can be a bastard of a thing ... covering a very large area of your skin.

While running I thought of the African Bushmen I grew up with, the way they organised themselves during a full day's persistence hunt.  It is important to have freedom of arm movement during a run and to expose as much of your skin on a hot day ... the only way, you'll run anything down.

My horse bow is light, very light ... only 500g.  I don't need to carry water due to modern technology ... the 'Life Straw' ... I can suck water out of any dirty old hole and survive.  Bushmen don't need much water anyway ...

My boots are heavy, but I'm working on running barefoot again.  I did this for many, many years ... I hunted barefoot until about 10 years ago.  The whole idea is to travel very light and to travel with lightning speed, across any terrain.

Suddenly I remembered, the leather 'poach' the Bushmen carried.  They carried this on one shoulder and it contained the following:  a quiver, the bow, a short stabbing spear, maybe a knopkierrie (throwing stick) and sometimes an ostrich egg filled with water.
Leather poaches carried by Bushmen

I'll design one of these, make it myself or get someone to make it ... test it and pencil the results in 'black & white.'  This is one of the oldest designs and possible the most practical.

The Art of Tracking ...

As a result of the hunter-gatherer adaptation, the human mind evolved the abilities to develop a complex language, to socialise, to love, to practise religion, to invent technology and to create science and art. Of the many complex abilities of the human intellect, it is possible that the development of the art of tracking played a significant role in the evolution of the scientific faculty. In this view, creative science (in the form of modern tracking ) may have originated at the same time, or soon after the appearance of a.m. Homo sapiens. Alternatively creative science may have originated just before or at the same time as the appearance of art. Significantly the earliest evidence of tracking lies in the form of footprints in prehistoric art.
. (The Art of Tracking: The Origin of Science ~ Louis Liebenberg)


Early this morning I got a phone call ... another sheep missing on a property.  Twelve sheep have been killed this far by either dingos or dingo crosses ... my opinion for what it's worth.  The sheep was found later, alive and on a small island in the middle of a dam.  Due to heavy rain last night, they couldn't find any tracks ...

I arrived with the sheep still on the island and I started scanning for tracks.  First step is to look within the water itself as it is fairly clear with a clay bottom layer.  This is a place where few people will look, but it is still sand/clay and any prints will be visible for days, especially in stagnant water.  I soon found dog tracks up to a certain depth ... but no sheep tracks, so I knew the sheep entered the dam somewhere else.

Soon I picked up dog tracks on the dam bank, not very clear but they were there.  At the far end of the dam I found the spot where the sheep entered the dam, with all the dog tracks hitting the water with force.  From there on it was easy to back track the running sheep, through heavy bush and rock country, up to the paddock where it jumped a fence.  I found a place on the fence line that looked suspect and entered the paddock from the high ground, as domesticated animals prefer that during the night. Soon I picked up the tracks of the running sheep and the tracks hit the fence exactly where I suspected the jump.

During the tracking process I found the carcass of a lamb taken a few days earlier. Only the skeleton left and freshly chewed heavy bones from the night before ... I set up the game camera, hoping they'll return the next few days ... although I know they'll spook the sheep again to get them out of the paddock.

Experience tells me that domesticated dogs will maul sheep anywhere and everywhere.  Dingo crosses will maul a few, but drag a carcass out of view and eat it in a paddock if there's now way out.  A dingo will make a clean kill and clean up a carcass from the back end ... stay away for four days before returning.

The tracks tell me it's two dogs ... a mature one and a younger one ... explains the reluctance to enter the water.  Hopefully the camera will complete the whole story.

Tracks can tell you a million things, things that you can never pick up or see in real life during daylight hours.  Tracks tell stories, it tells you all about the animal as if it's happening right before your eyes.  When one tracks, you become whatever you're tracking, you're predicting the movement especially if you know the habits and patterns of the one you're tracking.

At one stage I found a jelly-like substance on last nights tracks, I picked it up and smelled it ... it looked like eye matter to me ... I scanned around and found the old carcass ... few days old.   I'm sure it was a crow or other bird that picked the eyes out and sat in the tree above.  There are all kinds of signs that'll tell stories, even if most of it was washed away by the rain of the night before ...

Tracking is not something you do only when you're looking for something or trying to fill in the gaps in a half told story.  Tracking is something you need to do every single day of your life.

You can look at the tracks of your animals in your paddock.  The vehicle and foot prints at your front gate.  If I go for a run, I run on certain spots ... some easy and some hard, just so that I can track it back on my return.  I do the same on a horse ... riding out ... riding back I see how much I can see, how much I can't see.

I watch my daughters go for a run and later I'll go out on a horse or for a run myself and I see how much I can pick up in tracks.  I memorise the shoe and hoof patterns of my horses, the foot prints of my dogs, the tyre prints of our vehicles.  When you open your gate, you'll know if something else or someone else were at your front gate.

If you loose your horse for some reason ... can you track it?  If your dog chases after something ... can you track it?  If you get lost, would you recognise your own footprints?  My kids go for runs in very remote areas, I need to know what their shoe tracks look like, just in case ....

Tracking is a very mathematical process and making sense of various patterns within the 'chaos' of Nature, which is the most normal thing there is, takes practice, daily practice.

Personally I love the stories all kinds of spoor tell.  Sometimes I go for a run or a ride and I'll cross the spoor of something ... I get lost in the mathematical scientific process of tracking ... I become the spoor and I predict and I move ahead, more often to make a mistake ... only to circle back and look at other options.  A very similar process as towards the final solution of the scientific process.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Solitude ... With Rain.

Last night I listened to the softness of the rain ... I felt an itch in the hollow of my feet and I dreamed about my bow and a quiver of red-feathered arrows ...

This morning I woke up and I walked barefoot, very quietly to the front door, not to disturb the softness of the rain.  On the horizon I saw the greyness of heavy clouds and again I felt the itch in the hollow of my feet ... I looked at my bow and arrows in the corner there ...

Late this afternoon I watched the hills covered in a wet mist ... I know the pigs and deer will be out, because they feel safe ... humans don't like this weather, they all hide inside.  An itch in the hollow of my feet ... now in my heart.  I want to rip all my clothes off, grab my bow and arrows and I want to follow the rain, the clouds, the wind and the sound of frogs ...

I call this the total freedom of Being ... the need of nothing ... the Path of Heart ... the softness of the earth on your bare feet ...

... but, I think of all the barb-wire fences I need to cross, all those artificial roads, 4x4 tracks everywhere ... confused humans in large machines on the road.  I don't want to see this ... I don't need this.  I want to see other people, half naked running towards the rain ... I don't want to climb a fence ... I don't want to cross a humanoid road.

Why should I even worry or think about all of this, when the itch in my feet tell me where to go?  I know the Path of my Heart, but I fence it with barbed wire ... why??

I can hear the howl of the wind outside ... I don't want to feel the comfort of inside.  I want to be in the midst of the wind, the rain ... somewhere ... out there.  I want to make a small fire and dance naked to cure the itch in my feet ...

This is not just rain nor wind ... this is a complete change of energy ... I can feel it and I know it.  If you don't run with it, you'll be left behind.  I need to run with this, only for a little while ... I need to feed the itch in the hollows of my feet.  Even my horse can sense this ... the beauty of it ... the freedom of it all.  I can see how he looks towards the heavy clouds on the horizon ... he looks at me and calls softly to me ... not to disturb the softness of the rain ... he knows, just like I know ...

There is so much beauty in life ... if we can only open our eyes and hearts ...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Running with Horses ...

Jeremiah 12:5 ~
"If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?"

 
 Endurance Riding Namibia

I run my horses in hand on a regular basis and it is just part of training.  I often get asked why or how??  I'm not alone here, because some of the old North American Indian tribes walked/ran a new horse for two days and two nights, before they did anything else with it.  I've met an old Warrior here in Australia, close to his 70's now, who still breaks horses and walks them for hundreds of hours before he does anything else with them.

I learned to run my horses from a very special teacher ... a very 'difficult' horse called Blaze.  She nearly killed me a couple of times and I decided to get in some 'help' from so-called 'horse trainers.'  I went through 5 of them, one I asked to leave and the others refused and said I must just sell her to the doggers (people that kill horses for dog meat).  There was just something about Blaze and the process started ... it started with running her ....

It was not that easy, because she was known for her aggressiveness and during a run she kicked me to bits ... I struggled to walk for two weeks.  I changed my training, but we continued with the running.  Later I cantered her with a rope halter on the roads, she actually 'asked' me to get on her back.  One of the people who was reluctant to train her, later bought her from me.  Blaze is now a horse for the disabled in Brisbane.

 
Blaze, the difficult one ...who taught me about running with horses ... 

Blaze was known for her dominance and 'aggressiveness' - she attacked a few people.  Running with a horse sort all of those issues out, long before you need to get on the horse.  There are many, many ways of 'breaking' a horse ... as many as sticks to beat the hell out of a dog.  'Breaking' a horse or riding a horse is a very dominant thing to do.  Horses hang out with each other and slowly work out their position within the herd.  This is a slow process of body language and movement within the herd structure.

A horse knows exactly where it positions it's feet and how close it is to you.  The ears tell a story and how the horse 'pushes' you around tells another.  You can sort all of this out in the walk/run and sort it forever.  A horse that steps on your foot or push you out of the way while moving ... or standing still, knows you are 'down there.'  Some horses will test their dominance every single day ... you can only sort it permanently if your feet is on the same level as the horse's feet ... my opinion anyway ... or you can always break the horse.

Running Star ...

Running with a horse does not involve movement on a level even surface ... it means running in all kinds of terrain in all kinds of conditions ... it is here that the horse start to work with you.  You can teach a horse to run on your left, or on your right and to switch sides when you ask it to.  You can ask a horse to run by your side with the head at your shoulder or slightly ahead ... this is important if you want to see the ears and use it as your radar, in certain conditions.

When space is limited, you can ask your horse to run behind you ... with the nose between your shoulder blades or further away ... you can alter the space as you choose.  In very steep areas, you can ask your horse to run in front of you and you can hang on it's tail, pulling you along ... of course, the trust factor is needed here and you can only sort it by doing it.

Most humans don't understand their physical design, when it comes to running.  Humans have more or less the same endurance as a horse and a human is designed for running, especially in the heat.  Your fitness is also very important and plays a huge role in how you interact with your horse.  On a 15km trail ride, it's not going to hurt the horse if you run 5km's of it.  As your horse have the same endurance as you, possible less cooling ability than you ... it is a good practice to run the same areas and hills as your horse.  A horse doesn't have a sound for pain, so put a bit of weight on your back and do what your horse do!!!! You'll soon see how important it is for your horse to be in shape ... and for you to be in shape.  If you can't run for whatever reason walk it ...

In Namibia we have endurance races where you won't be able to ride your horse, you'll have to keep up on foot.  The same situation might pop up when your horse gets hurt in the middle of nowhere.  Your horse will only respect you if you do the right thing every now and then ....
Endurance rider collapsed after long climb run on foot in Namibia

Another important factor is the physical development of a horse ... it takes about 5 to 6 years for a horse to fully mature.  The old theory of some horse breeds reaching maturity sooner than others is just dated.  For some reason there is a hurry to 'break' a horse and sometimes is starts at the age of 1!!!  A lot of these early practices are well known in the racing industry.  Why the hurry?  Why not just hang out with your horse ... just walk and run it???  Sort all the pushing and shoving out first ... sort it out on the ground.  Teach the horse that you can sense things as well, the spoor and scat of animals ... let the horse smell it.  When your horse tell you via ears and body language that there is something around ... stop and circle, look for tracks or other signs.

When you see a person, an animal or a snake, teach your horse by specific sounds that there's something.  Be patient and let your horse see it ... this way the horse starts to respect your input and automatically work with you.  These are very little things ... but on a horse you can see things the horse can't.  I always spot snakes first here in Australia ... in Africa it was the horses who were more alert, because of the presence of the Rinkhals (spitting cobra).  Horses can sense thing you can't ... but you have to learn their way of telling you ... you can start learning this, long before you ride a horse.  It is a language and a type of dance ... a very special and intimate communication system ... a way of 'feeling' ...

Running Hakahn ...

Running with your horse build trust, especially at night and with younger or inexperienced horses.  Horses can feel your energy, can feel when you're scared or unsure of yourself.  Sort all of this stuff out, before you get on a horse.

Running with a horse is not a job, it is one of the most beautiful things one can do, it is a very intimate thing to do ... to feel the horse, to 'see' the horse and to feel that the horse feel you and is totally aware of you.  Once you know the feeling, you'll know when it is not there when you're on a horse.  It is all about total awareness and trust ...

In the end, we expect horses to learn our language and our ways ... while we sit way up there.  How about learning the way of the horse first, with your feet on the ground???




The Military 2.4km run (2) ...

The 2.4km run, with the additional strength exercises - pull-ups, push-ups and sit-ups indicate your current fitness level ... a very short and effective test.  A long time friend, ex-Southern African Defence Force (and Special Force) ... now a running coach Down Under and a very good runner himself, told me the following:

"Funny ... the kids I coach do 2.4km time trials ... it must be engraved into us."  It is one of the best things you can do, and it takes 20 minutes maximum.  If you don't have 20 minutes to spare ... get a life!!

Problems running with boots:

Some of the Special Force Units in the Southern African Defence Force supplied boots with flat soles.  Some of us with some running experience, with the very first opportunity took our boots to an Indian shoemaker (available everywhere in South Africa) to replace the 'heeled' soles with flat soles.  Shin splints was a very common 'injury' in the Defence Force.  I see the Australian Defence Force still use boots with heels.  Heels on any running shoe or boot encourages heel action ... the last thing you want while running.  Heel action in running promotes the 'development' of your quads (muscles on your upper leg), which in return puts strain on your knees and lower legs.

Age and running:

This is something that really pisses me off, especially in Australia, where the majority of people think runners are 'wankers' as I've been told on so many occasions ... not to mention running when you're over 45.  Research indicates the following:

Long distance runners were studied over a long period of time and their running times were studied throughout their running careers.  At the age of 19, a runner ran a time of A ... as this runner aged, the running time increased to the age of 29 ... let's call it maximum time B  ... from there on the running time decreased.  Researchers then asked themselves how long will it take for that runner's time to slow down to time A???  Ok, it's your guess now ... age 35, maybe 45 or how about 50???  Research shows that it'll take you to age 64 before your time declines to your 19 year old running time A.  What does this really means???

It means that the average long distance runner between the ages of 30 and 60 will easily outrun runners between the ages of 19 to 29!!!  Now, what does this really, really means????

It means that as a hunter-gatherer this made perfect sense, if you took their average maximum age into account, as there were no hand-outs.  If you couldn't run or hunt ... you'll die ... simple as that.  So, ask yourself where you stand in the equation??  Can you run an antelope down at age 50 or 60???  Better get into the art of running ... maybe??

Running while overweight:

If you form is incorrect, you'll struggle with all sorts of problems.  No point in running with boots and a 'rifle' if your form is incorrect.  The best way of doing this, is to weigh your flat sole boots and 'rifle' (a 4.5kg weight) and your 1L water bottle.  Change your diet to the only diet you were suppose to eat (I'll 'write' about this later) ... you never exercise to loose weight, you eat to loose weight.

As you loose a kg, you slip into your boots.  As you loose another kg ... you slip on your 1L water bottle.  As you loose one more kg ... you carry a 1kg weight, and you increase this as you loose more weight, until you reached your 'rifle' weight.  You can only do this if your running form is right.  There are excellent books and other information available in regards to this ... I'll 'pen' these down soon.

Your core strength:

You can't neglect the pull-ups, push-ups or sit-ups and expect results.  The reason there are so many 'gadgets' available is because the average human just don't want to run or work against his/her own weight any more.  Your ancestors did it for thousands of years ... time for you to get back to the future and chuck the gadgets into a hole.

Your feet strength:

Most running 'problems' come from our feet ... lack of barefoot running.  You can increase the strength of your feet muscles by walking, skipping and running barefoot ... this is very important.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Military 2.4km Run (1) ...


 Bushmen trackers in Namibia... they are a tiny people, but can outrun anyone carrying a 4.5kg R1 or FN rifle.

The 2.4km run time test is routinely used in military training programmes all over the world as an indicator of aerobic capacity and its possible improvement.  The following was published in the South African Medical Journal: "Assessment of the 2.4km run as a predictor of aerobic capacity" by Burger, Bertram & Stewart.  The conclusion:
"It is concluded that in the population of military personnel studied, a 2,4 km timed out-and-back run test correlates significantly with, and reliably predicts, the directly measured VOzmax, and is therefore a reliable alternative measure of aerobic capacity."

 Koevoet (crow-bar) trackers on the spoor - South West Africa Police Counter-Insurgency Unit (SWAPOL-COIN), was a very successful 'infamous' paramilitary-trained police counter insurgency unit during the South African Border War.

 In short, it is a good indicator of your current fitness level.  In the South African and Namibian Defence Forces, the 2.4km was run in boots, with a rifle, webbing and a 1L water bottle ... on uneven terrain.  The qualifying time was 12 minutes.

I used to run it under 10 minutes ... age 19.  It is my aim to run it under 10 minutes again, with a 4.5kg rifle and boots ... age 45.  I think it is possible as I ran a 2.4km a few months ago with standard running gear, under 11:10 ... the qualifying time for the Australian Defence Force for under 25's.  I was around 12 kg's 'overweight' and not particularly fit.  All three my kids, under 16 years of age, can run the 2.4km under 11:10.

The standard fitness test was the 2.4km run ... followed by an immediate session of pull-ups, sit-ups and push-ups ... a time limit of 2 minutes for each.  Running with a rifle in hand changes the whole game, as you need more upper body strength to compensate for the lack of 'arm action' required in normal running.

Most people don't realise their own potential or their own physical design.  Humans were designed for running, right from the shape of your foot, your buttock muscles, the position of your head and your 'hairless skin.'  You are designed to run in the heat of the day and to run any antelope into the ground.  A fit human being can outrun a horse on a 80km run.

Most people think that running is hard on the joints, especially the knees.  This is a total misconception, due to our lack of running in early years, especially barefoot running.  If there is a 'running killer' ... then it is the shoe, especially the 'modern' running shoe ... the reason the average 'First World' white guy is outrun by the average 'Third World' black guy ... it's all in the feet.

Heel striking and weak foot structure is the main reason for running 'complications' ... as most of us don't know how to run anymore.  'Heel striking' is possible today, because of the 'false protection' and the high heels our 'running shoes' provide.  It is impossible to run like that barefoot.  Therefore the need for barefoot training, whether it is running, skipping, climbing or other exercises.  The human foot is designed for rough terrain.  The biggest killer for foot strength is even surfaces.

Due to our 'lifestyle' and other commitments, it is hard to cover the daily 19km's our hunter-gatherer ancestors covered ... but it is possible to run your 2.4km and do the other strength exercises.  It only takes about 20 minutes to do the whole lot.  It is possible ...

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Running with Horses & Wolves ...

I'm often asked, "Why don't you ride that horse, why are you running it?" or when I run in the heat of the day, "Why ... are you mad?"  The real question is, am I really mad ... or maybe just normal??  It's actually fairly simplistic once we look at movement, especially running.

In the wild, wolves and African Wild Dogs average about 19 to 22 kilometres a day.  Horses studied in the wild average about 19 kilometres a day, which leaves the two-legged creature ...??  We know from studying hunter-gatherer societies and anthropology, that humans moved around 19 kilometres a day ... coincidence??

If we compare ourselves to horses and wolves, at first glance we look slow and clumsy.  Today it is a scientifically proven fact that we were born to run ... each and everyone of us.  If it was not for that ability, none of us would be here today.  We might not be that fast or that agile, but we can outrun both the horse and the wolf in the right circumstances.  We were designed for endurance ...

See, we are excellent runners in the heat ... because we have a cooling system like no other animal ... an excess of sweat glands and very little body hair.  Research shows that short toes of the human foot allows for more efficient running.  Increasing toe length as little as 20% doubles the mechanical work on the foot.  The fact that the bit toe is straight and not to the side, suggests that our feet evolved for running.  That big toe is designed for push-off, the last thing to leave the ground while running ...


 Our ligaments and tendons in the feet and legs are different from our 'close relatives' - the chimpanzee and ape ... they don't have them.  A narrow waist and midsection allows swinging for the arms ... preventing us from zigzagging on the trail.

Our energy tank for glycogen in the muscles can last for about 20 miles ... although we know now that on a low-carb diet it's much longer ....

Our big butt muscles are only engaged while running ... now you know why it's growing bigger and bigger if you don't run ...

The bridge in a foot is an amazing shock absorbing mechanism ... which we kill by wearing the newest running shoes.  We are designed to run barefoot ...

Today we know that we can outrun horses over 80 km's in the right conditions.  In the heat, a wolf can't keep up with us.  Running is what we are, it keeps us upright and not 'hunched' ... like most young people nowadays.  Running connects us ... thought breathing and our feet ... connects us to the real world.

If I sit on a horse ... all I am is an extension of the horse ... or the horse is an extension of me.  I believe I must be able to do what my horse do ... that way I feel what my horse feels when I ride heavy country or just ride hard.  If I'm born to run, but can't run ... how can I expect my horse or my dog to do what I ask of them?  How can I feel what they feel ... how can I know when enough is enough  ... or where to pull out that extra energy?

Sometimes when I ride hard and I see the ground, grass and trees flying past ... all I want to do is get off my horse and run  ... run like the wind.  I love running with my dogs, because they do a million things while they run ... same with the horse.  I pick up on that and sharpen my instincts ...

I feel it's my duty to get back to my roots ... to run with the horse and the wolf ... knowing each step where I put my feet ... listening to the silence between each breath ... what is out there??  In between scanning where I put my feet and scanning my surrounding areas, while tuning my ears to the slightest sound ... I'm all connected ... because I run with a horse and a wolf/dog ....