Are We Born to Run?

2013-03-07T17:01:32-05:00Nutrition & Fitness|

If you hadn’t noticed we’re on a bit of a running kick these last few weeks. Maybe it’s because we want to believe that Spring is in the air (even if early March brought snowstorms to many corners of the US) and that means that we’re unshackled from our treadmills and running outside is actually pleasant again. Or maybe it’s because everyone here at SportsSignup is fired up for the Freihofer’s Junior 3K Run (register your youth runner today!). Whatever may be in the water we’re in a running frame of mind.

One of our team members came across this great TED Talk by Christopher McDougall, author of “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super Athletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen.”

He jokes that “We think Usain Bolt is fast. Usain Bolt could get his [butt] kicked by a squirrel. We’re not fast.” Pre-historic man had no built-in advantages like claws or teeth, no weapons (those showed up later), and was not nearly as strong or fast as most other predators (we’re the “sissies” of the jungle as Christopher says). So how were our ancient ancestors catching and killing animals as a source of food?

His hypothesis—we as humans were born to run.

He says that we evolved as a “hunting pack animal” and that better than any other animal on Earth we can sweat. And the ability to sweat and keep our bodies cool enough under the hot, blazing sun is what made pre-historic man a viable competitor for the top of the food chain when we really had no right to be there. After five or six miles on a hot day, a horse can choose to breathe or cool off…but it can’t do both at the same time. We can. Our natural advantage wasn’t teeth or claws or a thick hide—we, as a pack, could literally just run an antelope down over time.

Earlier in the video he explains that 65+ year old marathon runners can maintain the same speed as most 19 year olds and the longer the distance (50+ miles) the better women runners perform. His theory? Back in the day a “pack” would need those older runners because they were the expert trackers. They wouldn’t be of much use if they couldn’t keep up with the young hunters. And the women (especially nursing mothers) and adolescents of the tribe were the ones who needed the nutrition from animal proteins the most so it made it worth the while to keep up with the hunters! The “pack” had to run together every day, all day in order for everyone to survive.

He goes on to say that only in recent years has running become something associated with pain and injury. We as a culture need to get back to the sense of joyfulness, playfulness and freedom that comes with running. Running doesn’t just need to be about getting in better shape—maybe it can help you relax, find peace, and get more comfortable with your own body.

What’s your personal attitude towards running? Do you love it, hate it or do it because you have to?