The Child Runner

The Tarahumara are a community made of runners. Men run. Women run. Elders run. Children run.


That gave me an idea.

I have a 5 year old sister. And since I am adapting the Tarahumara lifestyle, I decided to borrow my sister for a small…..experiment.  

Willa idolizes me. With 17 years between us, she views me as more of a God than a sister. And because we see each other very rarely, she is more than eager to do whatever it takes to spend time with me and make me proud.

I confess. I took advantage of her overwhelming need to please me.

I decided to train her to become my own personal Tarahumara child.

My mother did not approve of her oldest offspring exploiting her youngest, so I agreed to train with Willa, instead of using her as a guinea pig.

We made the traditional Tarahumara energy drink Iskiate; a combination of water, cane sugar or honey, chia seeds and lime juice. The drink looks like frog eggs fermenting in boogers. Willa looked down at her Cinderella cup filled with the jiggling, slightly green concoction and then looked back at me.

“You first.”

“Fine,” I declared confidently. Although inside I’m wondering how the kindergartener just convinced the college student to take the first plunge.

It was surprisingly refreshing. A delicate, sweet lime flavor and a nutty taste from the seeds. The chia seeds were the weirdest part; they absorb the water and become swollen and plump and slightly slimy.

Once Willa saw that I had indeed survived the strange drink, she let out a delighted squeal and gulped hers down.

So we peeled off our shoes and headed out for our first Iskiate-fueled run. To spare her tiny feet, we ran on the grass next to the road. And when I say we ran, I mean she ran as fast as her skinny legs would carry her, and I mostly shuffled along, pretending to be getting a workout. But she was having the time of her life. Her smile never faded, her stride never faltered, and she never once complained.

The Tarahumara encourage children to run because they believe it is a natural part of life. Doesn’t everyone remember how running feels so free and enlightening when you’re a little kid? You feel as though you can run forever because your energy supply will never tire. The Tarahumara keep this feeling, even as they age.

To them, running is not a chore, a stress relief or a way to fit in to your favorite jeans; it’s simply a fun part f life.

Go run like a kid again.

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