A Little Running Tip: Learning from Native Americans

A pebble for running

When I was a young boy in grade school, I used to love reading books about the Native Americans who lived in the Southwest. I remember reading about how the young warriors in those tribes often ran great distances on foot, covering miles and miles and miles. They ran in the dry, arid climate where water was often scarce.

For runners, staying hydrated is a big part of a successful run. For a 5k, there is often no need to bring along or take in water. Yet for longer runs, especially on a hot, sunny days, carrying a water bottle is a good idea for sure.

The Running Trick

In the books that I read as a youngster, I learned that when a warrior became thirsty during a run across an area when there was no water to be found, he turned to an old trick to avoid feeling so dehydrated. The trick is really simple and effective – and I’ve have used it on my some of own runs.

Pick up a small stone or pebble and pop it into your mouth. Being careful not to chew on or swallow the rock, that little pebble in your mouth will cause you to salivate. That extra moisture in the mouth eliminates the deep feeling of thirst.

Admittedly, this approach doesn’t eliminate the need for water. Rather, it reduces the sensation of extreme thirst, making it easier to focus on the run, pace, and form.

With little rocks and stones everywhere, it’s easy to find something on just about every path, trail, sidewalk or roadway. And a little dirt never hurt anyone.

On a side note, I have no idea if Native Americans in the Southwest of the United States actually used this technique. The books I read as a young boy were from my local library in suburban Chicago. If the history behind this technique is inaccurate, I apologize in advance.