I am not ready to write an in-depth blog post on why Ethiopia is filled with some of the best runners in the world. I have only been here for two weeks and just begun to skim the surface of this phenomenon.
Here in Sululta, in the Oromia region of Ethiopia, the majority of the surfaces people run on are made of dirt, pebble, and wooded trails. The foot and lower leg intelligence that is required to navigate the uneven terrains of the majority of runs requires strength—and that underlying strength to run efficiently on this rocky ground is developed over days, months, and years.
So far, surface strength seems to be threefold:
1.Ethiopian runners have unique “micro-muscles” in their feet and lower legs that develop from the challenging surfaces they run on.
2.I would argue that Ethiopian runners get injured less since they run the majority of the time on off-pavement surfaces, and in turn can run higher mileage.
3.When running on the smooth surface of a track or road, Ethiopian runners’ surface strength contributes to a faster, effortless gait.
There are many more observations to be unearthed on why Ethiopian runners are among the best. Right now, after only two weeks in Ethiopia, I am just beginning to skim the surface strength.