Must-Read: Runners are Suckers
Running sucks. This is something that we all understand inherently. If we didn’t, if we actually thought it was fun, then we’d be spending our days just running around like crazy, always wearing our running shoes because who ever knows when we’re going to actually loosen up and start bolting. But we don’t. Instead, we plan certain parts of every day, or every week, to putting on our jogging outfit, lacing up our shoes, and then huffing-and-puffing through whatever course or hiking trail, drenching ourselves in sweat, and then spending the rest of the night resting after the terrible time we just put our body through.
Thing is, a lot of people think that running is our natural state. Those jerks with those five-toed running shoes, or the terrible assholes who actually run barefoot, they all think that running is our natural state. That we have since evolved a bit from the jungle, but that running is a basic primal instinct that must be met.
Except it’s not.
From this fascinating article over at AskMen.com comes the truth: We were never really meant to be runners. It is not our natural state. Observe:
But in this study, running was not the most efficient human stride, not by a long shot. It didn’t matter whether a runner landed on his toes, the balls of his feet, or his heels. Running just wasn’t fuel efficient, the data showed. Walking was. By a sizeable margin, walking, especially when the athletes landed first with their heels, was the most physically economical way for human beings to move. This estranges us from much of the animal world. Gazelles rarely walk and don’t do it well. They bound madly, landing on their toes. But humans seem built to plod. “We are remarkably economical walkers,” the authors concluded. “We are not efficient runners. We consume more energy to run than the typical mammal our size.”
Conveniently, as it turns out, caveman-like hunts were probably conducted at a walking speed, anyway. When researchers recently followed a group of modern-day African hunters on a long, slow pursuit of their prey, the average speed was 3.8 miles per hour, a walking pace.
So, where does that leave us? Well, not really too much further. If we’re going to eat as much as we do, and consume as many calories as we do, then we’re going to need to work them off somehow. So, maybe the lesson in all of this is that we, truly, don’t need to be eating as much as we seem to think we do?
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About Rick Mosely Rick is the editor for TSB magazine.