Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Running isn't for everybody, but it's for YOU

How many of you have said the following sentence or heard someone say one of the following sentences: "Running just isn't for me," or "I can't run," or "I'm not built to run." My response to any of these that would be to say "shut up and run!" Here's why...

People are built to run. We are designed from head to toe to be runners. We have been more beneficial than any other species on the planet in that we evolved into awesome running machines. People have an advanced cooling system in that we sweat instead of pant. We also have ligaments and tendons in our feet that allow us to spring forward, anatomy that chimpanzees and apes, our two closest relatives, don't have. We also, by design, have a narrow waist that allows for our arms to swing freely so that we stay in a straight line while running. Our toes are short which allows for more efficient running. And the butt, the largest muscles in our body, is only used (pretty much) when we run, as studies show that it's hardly used when we walk. Obviously our butts are used for other things, but let's keep it clean here kids...

The reason we exist today is because our ancestors ran across the desert plains of Africa chasing tasty animals and ultimately catching them. Now I've never been to the plains of Africa, but any picture you look at proves that they are what they sound like: plain. There isn't a lot of cover, so animals could see their pursuers coming from a long distance away. Hunters would push their prey, which undoubtedly could run faster at short distances because of their four legs, until they gave in to exhaustion. We were able to do this because we are built to run long distances and because we can cool ourselves by sweating. Ahhh, isn't it sweet to be human?

Having been a runner for the last 17 years, I've learned most of this along the way. But the awesome, HIGHLY suggested book Born to Run really opened my eyes to the culture of running and what is right and what is wrong with it today in America. Marathons are a rapidly growing "sport" in America, with 450,000 people completing one in 2009, a number that is up 20% from the beginning of the decade. With the rapid rebirth of long distance running comes inevitable injuries. People get excited about long distance running, train incorrectly or wear the wrong shoe or whatever, then get hurt. In Born to Run, author Christopher McDougall argues all these points and more. He writes of how to become a better runner and how to actually enjoy running, but not in a how-to kind of way. It's a brilliant read, one I'd recommend for even a non-runner who might like a good book.

People are fat because we stopped running and harvesting our own food. We were told running is bad for us. When we stopped running and harvesting our own food we eventually stopped moving and started eating crappy food. Then we became fat and sick.

If you are new to running my suggestion is this: Stop reading this blog, put on your shoes and go outside. Start walking down the sidewalk. Run a little...maybe to the street light pole. Then walk. Then start a slow run to the next mailbox you pass. Then walk. Then slowly run to the intersection. Then walk. If you're worried about what people might think, stop worrying! If anything, they'll be envious and say if you can do it, so can they. Trust me on this.

And if you're already a runner, I'll see you at the starting line.

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