As humans we have several unique biomechanical and physiological adaptations that make us the long distance champions of the land mammals. When your friends and family tell you that running is bad for you, you can hit back with these incredible facts.
Humans started running about 2 million years ago.
We are not the fasted runners on land, however, Bramble and Lieberman say “it’s our combination of reasonable speed and exceptional endurance”, that worked for us in the past as hunters. A good hunter can outrun an antelope over long distances and this persistence hunting to exhaustion method is still used by the Bushman today. Bramble and Lieberman think that running may have driven our evolution to give us the anatomy and physiology we have today.
So, what were these adaptations and where can we see then in our bodies today?
Can we ignore 2 million years of evolution and sit on the couch. Clearly not. Maybe its not even enjoyment that gets us out there but some primal instinct that lives in our very anatomy and physiology.
“Running has many well researched benefits to your heart, bones, brain and muscles. As a runner I’m always thrilled to see the latest research on how good it is for us, and how we evolved to be the top (sharing with a few others) of the long distance running food chain. However, improving my health is not the reason I run. I try to maintain good health in order to run because running still gives me a feeling of well-being and accomplishment that no other sport I have tried has given me.” - Sarah
Bramble. D and Lieberman. D, Endurance running and the evolution of Homo, Nature, Sepetmber 2004
Tim Noakes, Lore of Running, Oxford University Press, 2001
The Great Dance: A Hunters Story, 2000, Documentary DVD, Craig and Damon Foster