May 23, 2011

"Indian run" conditioning exercise

Adrienne Keene writes about a little-known "Indian" term in her Native Appropriations blog:

"Indian Run":  Offensive?The local Lululemon store has a running club--cool. But today, Palo Alto High School (our favorite!) is hosting an Indian Run.

So what's an "Indian Run," you ask? It's a conditioning exercise, where a group of runners jog single file at a steady pace, and then the last runner in line must sprint to the front of the line, taking the place of the first runner, and so on. There are videos on youtube if you need a visual.

My bootcamp class I took in San Francisco used to do these too, but my group graciously decided to rename them "last man sprints" when I pointed out how ridiculous the name was.

The internet has no consensus on the origins of the term, and I can't really find anything about the exercise other than how it's done, but I still find it kinda stupid. It has nothing to do with Indians. I think this one is a term that needs to be retired, much like sitting "Indian style" (just call it cross-legged!).
Comment:  I did a brief search for the term's origin. I didn't see anything on the subject except "no known origin."

I vaguely recall hearing this term before. I think it comes from seeing Indians run in single file. The bit about going to the head of the line probably was a non-Indian addition.

I did see several locations using the phrase:

Indian Run Meadows
Indian Run Estates
Indian Run Methodist Church
Indian Run Park
Indian Run Farm
Indian Run Road
Indian Run Hill
Indian Run Apartments

So I presume it was fairly commonplace in the olden days. People probably could've defined it then without relying on the Internet.

Adrienne asks if it's offensive. Well, I'd say it's stereotypical, since most Indians probably didn't run this way. I'd put it on the "too many chiefs" level, since it's not trying to denigrate Indians. More of a minor offense than a major one.

For a similar type of stereotype, see "Too Many Chiefs and Not Enough Indians."

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