Baby, you were born to run. If you ever feel like you should probably give up on jogging because you just aren’t the type-think again. People of all shapes and sizes do it, proven by Women’s Running who just pulled a first for a running mag and put a plus-sized model on their cover.
But what makes it so easy for us homo sapiens to hit the road?
In the last decade scientists have come up with the theory that humans evolved and survived on our planet because of at least five specific physical traits.
These traits make us look the way we do, and move the way we do.
And, incidentally, they make us incredibly successful endurance runners.
According to the theory (and at least two documented cases in the Man versus Horse Marathon,) we can go so far as to out run a horse, given enough distance. University of Utah biologist Dennis Bramble and Harvard University paleoanthropologist Daniel Lieberman think that we can also outrun dogs, hyenas, wolves, and antelope- the other great endurance runners on the planet.
Here’s how it works:
As a species in Africa looking for dinner, we started running and we just didn’t stop. We got our prey because after hours and hours and maybe days of jogging, eventually the other animals had to slow down, letting us get at their hides with projectiles. We had some secrets that let us kept us going and going and going-right for the kill.
Here’s what makes us invincible:
1) We Can Sweat a Whole Lot
Medicinenet.com says that an average person has 2 million sweat glands-that’s more than many other species. Throughout time this has allowed the human body to reduce its temperature while maintaining a good running clip, preventing overheating. Quadrupedal prey need to slow down in order to pant their heat out, making them vulnerable to hunting over long distances.
2) We Have An Achilles Tendon
Our spring-like Achilles tendon stores energy, an act that cuts the metabolic cost of running in half, when compared with other ancient species.
3) We Also Have An Arched Foot
The longitudinal arch of our foot acts like another well-constructed set of springs, also helping to conserve running energy, letting us go and go.
4) We Have Wonderfully Fat Knees
Running exposes the body to much higher impact stresses than walking, and studies suggest that humans evolved larger joints in the lower body to act as shock absorbers. Without them, we wouldn’t be catching so much air. Have you looked at your dog’s knees lately?
5) We Have A Big Bum
Our large buttocks are absent in our closest living relatives, the ape. Seriously- no bum! The bum is considered essential for stabilization while running, acting much like a tail. We can thank that great big butt for allowing us to evolve and get the protein we needed to grow the great big brains that we know and love today.
I like to remember that each of these five traits allowed us to survive and thrive on the African savannah and to get to who we are today. So, when it’s rainy and cold out, or you look in the mirror and think that today you’re not the one for running up that hill, know that the recipe for success is in you and no one can take it out.
Run baby, run.