My aesthetic of choice would have to be Kenyan Runners as a whole. Though many people would not consider athletes to be aesthetics, I believe that the form they run with is a work of art. Everything they do has purpose and intent. The Kalenjin runners, in particular, are known to be some of the strongest distance runners in the world. This tribe of runners come from the Rift Valley Province of Kenya. “Kalenjin have particularly thin ankles and calves” (MacDougall). This serves as a great benefit to them considering that the leg serves as a pendulum in running and is vital to run speed. They tend to grow up in a “pain-embracing society,” where they learn at an early age how to endure much pain (MacDougall). http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2013/11/01/241895965/how-one-kenyan-tribe-produces-the-worlds-best-runners
Some of Kenya’s most successful runners include David Rudisha, Haile Gebreselassi, Mo Farah, and Daniel Komen. They all train under the same coach in a town called Iten. “Every day I used to milk the cows, run to school, run home for lunch, back to school, home, tend the cows. This is the Kenyan way,” says Komen. (Finn). http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2012/apr/08/kenyas-marathon-men
Kenyan runners’ diet is not surprising in that in consists of mostly carbohydrates, an essential energy component for most distance runners; however, it is the amount of sugar and tea that they consume which is surprising. Kenyan runners tend to drink more tea with milk and sugar in it than water. Their main carbohydrate is Ugali, a simple cornmeal mixed with water. The rest of of their food comes from vegetable and animal sources (Runners Connect).
The simplicity in their diet, their lifestyle, and their training makes the whole idea of being a Kenyan runner beautiful to me as an athlete; in this modern day and age, athletes and coaches seem to stress on even the most minor details when it comes to nutrition, equipment, and training. The Kenyan runners are living proof that sometimes simplicity is the best option.
They indeed run incredibly high mileage, however, the structure of their workouts is incredibly methodical and each workout is planned with a purpose. Each of their runs begin with an incredibly slow pace, lots of dynamic stretching, and focused movements. Often their entire workout will consist of slow pace running and dynamic movements, with a stress on technique, just to get the “art form” of running attained by each individual athlete.
One can see all of this come together in The Guardian Video posted below. This video gives a clear understanding of their lifestyle and training mindset. Even though they are professional athletes they seem to have a very laid back attitude about running and they “have this eternal optimism that they will always succeed,” even if they have a bad workout or race. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWnsIvmUPDo
Years of running barefoot as children and adolescents has also greatly contributed to their strength in running. Barefoot running forces the body to have a slight forward lean and the runner to land more on their forefoot, rather than to heal strike. This takes a great deal of pressure off of the knees and other joints. https://zinnrunning.wordpress.com/2014/06/28/shortcuts-to-becoming-faster/
Their focus is on form and strength. Simple as that. (video above)
Above is a video of one of my favorite Kenyan endurance runners, Haile Gebreselassie running effortlessly.