“From the dawn of humankind to around 10,000 BC, men had a constant voice in the back of their head saying, “Run for your life!” Physical development followed a natural path that was determined by the practical demands of life in a wild landscape as well as the vital need to avoid threats and seize opportunities for survival.”
– Erwan Le Corre
When running on trails in Colorado, you’re bound to encounter many situations that require you to balance on a log to cross water, crawl under a downed tree, or perform any number of natural, human movements. Even running is a natural, human movement! I, myself, want to be able to do these movements in an efficient and confident manner. This is one reason why I practice these movements as cross-training to my running.
If you’ve followed me long enough, you know that I have been independently studying Erwan Le Corre’s MovNat® natural movement practice for a while. I had learned about it from listening to an interview with Erwan, on an episode of Rewild Yourself Podcast, in 2014 and had tried a few movements, but lacked hands-on training. I was finally introduced to it, in real life in 2015, on a playground in Charlottesville, Virginia, after being invited to do some “natural movement/parkour activities outside” to help deal with various mobility issues by my friends, Nick DiPirro and MovNat Certified Trainer, Dave Pike. (If you are in central Virginia definitely check out Dave’s personal training page DNA-Movement)
At the time I was nursing a debilitating bout of ITBS and was barely running at all. I had to cancel my plans to race in The North Face ECSDC 50 miler already, and was interested in anything that might help me rehab my disfunctional leg. We met at 6 am once or twice a week. From day one, I could already tell this was something I could get into. It was fun – a group of grown men (and on a few occasions some grown women too!) on a playground, rolling and crawling in the grass, but feeling like I had gotten a good workout by the end of it. We did this for several weeks until I left for Italy in June. By the end of it, my ITBS was gone and I was able to get some light runs in through tomato fields in Italy. By the time I got to Boulder, I was back to running at 100%. I trained with the movements I learned, from that point, as my cross training. After TNF 50 in December, I took off a month of running and solely practiced MovNat®. During this time, I engaged in an Instagram challenge, where I learned more of these movements from videos. I ended up winning the challenge and received a free 2 day workshop as the prize.
I used the credit to recently attended the MovNat® workshop in Denver. It was time to immerse myself in a full 2 days of these efficient movement skills. We met at Endorphin, a gym in Denver on a very snowy, April morning. The level 3 MovNat Certified Trainer, Kellen Milad, who looks like a body builder, but is as flexible as a gymnast, was our teacher. We went from basic ground and mobility movements, to swinging on bars and everything in between. We learned practical movements such as lifts, carries and crawls – which not only help me grow stronger, but enable me to step in to help others if needed. A big part of the MovNat® message is “Be strong to be helpful.” This can apply to many situations, for example: if someone falls on a trail, down through some thick brush, and has, let’s say, a tree branch fall on them; I am confident that I can efficiently crawl down, if needed, and lift the obstacle off of them and help them out of the situation.
After 2 full days, I walked away with a better understanding of how to move and now feel confident in creating my own movement combos at home. It was a lot of fun, Kellen was a great teacher, I met some cool people, like Dani Hemmat, who does a podcast with Katy Bowman (who has been a huge influence on my daily life, and I could do a whole other post about!) I even got to take home some 2x4s to use for balance drills at home! The only downside was that it snowed so heavily, we weren’t able to do any outdoor activities, which are my favorite.
If you have the chance to attend a MovNat® workshop or work with a MovNat Certified Trainer, I would recommend that you do so. If not, at least check out their website and incorporate some of these movements into your cross-training or just in your daily life. I no longer have IT band issues, or any injuries that don’t involve smashing my body parts against rocks, and I strongly believe that training with these movement practices is partly, if not wholly, to thank. Its a good way to cross-train, indoors or outside, and many of the movements increase mobility in the hips and legs, where limited mobility can cause many running injuries.
Photos By Dani Hemmat