Monday, June 27, 2011

A Case for Running: You Were Built for This

Did you know you can beat a horse?  Yeah, just take a 2x4, that's not what I'm talking about and how dare you for suggesting such a thing! 
Did you know you can beat a a race?  Got a horse nearby?  Race him to the end of the block and back and see who wins.  How'd it go?  Oh, the horse won.  Oh, sorry, I meant to say....
Did you know you can beat a horse in an ENDURANCE race?  Yeah, it's possible.  There is actually a marathon each year in Wales that pits humans against horses.  And humans have actually won that race a few times.  So how in the heck does a human being beat a horse in a race?  I mean, aren't horses super fast and intensely strong animals?  And aren't human beings pathetic two-legged creatures who don't possess any cool animalistic qualities?  The truth of the matter is that humans were built for endurance races.  Horses not so much.  Horses are fast and could beat you every time over a short distance, but if you ask them to run a marathon, all of the sudden, we humans gain a small advantage.  And here is why.  A few scientists have looked into why humans may be built for distance/endurance running and have found a few reasons why:

...when it comes to long distances, humans can outrun almost any animal. Because we cool by sweating rather than panting, we can stay cool at speeds and distances that would overheat other animals.
 ...the short toes of the human foot allowed for more efficient running, compared with longer-toed animals. Increasing toe length as little as 20 percent doubles the mechanical work of the foot. Even the fact that the big toe is straight, rather than to the side, suggests that our feet evolved for running.

Springlike ligaments and tendons in the feet and legs are crucial for running. (Our close relatives the chimpanzee and the ape don’t have them.) A narrow waist and a midsection that can turn allow us to swing our arms and prevent us from zigzagging on the trail. Humans also have a far more developed sense of balance, an advantage that keeps the head stable as we run. And most humans can store about 20 miles’ worth of glycogen in their muscles. 
So you see, you were built for this.  Science says that our bodies were meant to run and over long distances, that we are engineered to endure.  Repeat that last part, "we are engineered to endure."  That's the coolest part.  No matter what science says, to me it's simply beautiful to know that I am capable of enduring a long run and anything else.  All of the sudden, being human isn't pathetic anymore.  We are meant to endure, to come all the way through to the end and do it better than other living things that seem to have such a huge advantage over us.  You could apply this to things other than running and have a field day with that kind of metaphor.  Instead, I'll just repeat myself.  You were built for this and you can do it. 

If you're looking for a reason to start running, here is my sixth reason:  You were built for this, to endure and to be awesome enough to beat a horse in an endurance race.  So far, I think this is the coolest reason.  No room for doubts here.

 Source:  The Human Body is Built for Distance


Robyn said...

I'd like to add my spiritual outlook on this post if I may- I totally agree with the notion that we are built to run, built to endure, and built for balance and power! In my life, I find these attributes accredited to God. I believe that God made our bodies, and that our bodies are gifts of Godly creation to allow our earthly journey to be fun and productive. I also think that God intended us to use our bodies for many things- childbirth, yard work, 8-5 work, child rearing, cooking, learning, sports, etc. BUT- what many people tend to look over, is that like most tools and useful gifts, you have to keep them in working order! Exercise is not just something HEALTH nuts do.... it is something I think God expects us to do to keep our bodies strong and able. And running and keeping in condition to run is one way to keep our stewardship over our bodies in check.

Anna said...

Very well put, Robyn.