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Running

16/11/2010

This will be a 12 part look into the 12 basics of movement. To summarize the 12 movements are;

Walking – part I

Running – part II

Jumping

Moving on all fours

Balancing

Climbing

Lifting

Carrying

Throwing

Catching

Defending

Swimming

This week we will look into the second of the essential movements.

Running

Running is one of the few things, besides swimming, that I struggle with the most. Albeit I am getting better at it.

If you remember from our last post, we talked about the book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. We talked at length on the evolution of walking in the human body. Below is a rehash of the important scientific stuff.

Our ancestors didn’t spend their time walking around the block for a cool down session. They would take the tribe and move them across the savannah. Dozens if not hundreds of miles spent moving the entire tribe and housing. Following the herd, or the seasons. It has been shown in several studies that early man spent a lot of the hunting time following the herd until their prey was exhausted enough that they had a chance to kill it. Let’s be honest here, early man had one hell of a violent lifestyle. If they could easily out think their prey, they did. In the book “Born to Run”, author Christopher McDougall and several other anthropologists theorize that early man was built on a model of slow movements over long distances. In looking over the skeletal remains of several species, our bodies were not built for speed like the jackrabbits. Instead we were built for distance and endurance. The jackrabbit had to be just one step faster than its fastest prey. And this continues right on down the food chain. Looking at our physique, compared to even earlier hominids, shows Paleolithic man was smaller, weaker and slower. Yet we survived and Homo erectus did not. Homo erectus, being larger boned, stronger and more suited to the environment still could not survive past a mere 70,000 years ago. Homo Antecessor, which begat Homo Neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens split from Homo erectus some 1.3mya. In this time our physique and make up changed to more of what we see today. One of the largest changes occurs in our feet and legs. Again we are the weaker race but our feet develop a curvature, an arch. This allows us to run; it allows us to run great distances and for a long time. In a simpler put way, this allowed us to track, hunt and kill our prey without the grave danger. Facing a fresh saber tooth as opposed to an exhausted saber tooth is a big difference.

Sorry, for making you reread that whole thing again. Like walking, running has been around from the beginning. Also like walking, I am not going to teach you how to run or why to run. Running, or better yet sprinting, needs to be a large part of your essential movement makeup.

I have spoken many times of my aversion to running. I do still get in at least a day’s worth of sprinting workouts. As many studies have shown, sprinting helps your running times. I can’t say why running is important, other than the fact that is a genetic part of our lives. We have always run from danger and or run into danger. Nowhere, in at least the books I have read or studies I have looked through, did it say that caveman Bob went out for his morning 5k through the savannah. But as noted above, our ancestors did “enjoy” running to encourage fatigue in our prey. I think we have all seen the many takes on Paleolithic life, the ambush attacks on Mammoths. The spear in hand hunt of anything moving. In looking over data on Ultra marathon running tribes like the Tarahumara of Mexico or the Kalenjins of Kenya. We find that it is possible and it could in fact have been a hunting method of our distant and not so distant ancestors. Obviously with today’s over population (animal population constriction), violent distance weapons (guns, bows) tribes have been able to close the gap on our prey without relying on olden methods.

Long story short, running is in our makeup.

I am not going to go into the large shoe companies and their continued drive to ruin our feet. But, I will talk about forms of running.

Shod

Man has been running in a form of shoes for hundreds of thousands of years. In an earlier post I pointed to a 7,500 year old pair of sandals. Albeit today’s high priced, over engineered shoe is a stark contrast to yesteryears moccasin. They all started the same way. The sandal. Nothing more than a piece of leather or bark, tied to the ankle or leg. Regardless of the price or the age of the shoe. They were all created for the same purpose, to protect our feet. On the cultural timeline, our feet have been treated well, until the last few decades.

Shoe Sources

Vibram Five Fingers

Luna Sandals

Nike Free

Barefoot

There is a very large movement in the barefoot community right now. There are studies after studies showing its benefits of running in bare feet. There have even been studies on the ill effects of running shoes. What can we take from this? Everything, we didn’t have air soles or 3” cushioned soles in the old days. Yet, today’s runners are plagued with injuries. Yes I know not everyone is getting injured but this is my post so let me vent. Bare feet running allow the feet to move in a more natural position. Allows your feet to sense naturally. There is a reason for shin splints and plantar fasciitis. I don’t want to even go into athlete’s foot and other fungus or smelly issues with feet. Much like the gagging smell of cough syrup, the look of feet today is gag worthy! Take the time to take your shoes off and enjoy the sense of freedom. Your feet will love it

Now as far as running goes, I find that running sprints in bare feet is easier than with shoes. Like I spoke of above, I am able to sense and feel the ground under me. My knees and legs have adapted to running in bare feet far faster than they did running in shoes. I can’t really tell if my feet are less smelly as I have no way of testing this, perhaps that will be a future post?

In summary, running is a very important part of our history and our future. Running is something that needs to be included in your weekly activity.

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