Running is (Probably) Human

by Neil Anderson

If I am not notorious for my hatred of running it is because I'm not that well known.  Those who know me know I HATE running.  Actually, what's worse than "hate?"  Whatever that word is should be attributed how I feel about running.  It makes my knees hurt.  It is hard.  It makes me tired.  

So, why show up to the Dirty Dash last Saturday and run 6+ miles through mud and up large hills?  Why go to the GPP group run last night and run up and down sandy hills in the dark?

It is because I have come to realize that running is (probably) human.

It is what we got.

Think about it.  Human physicality is relatively feeble compared to nearly all other species.  Even the great apes, our closest cousins, are 4-7 x stronger/faster/etc. than us despite being 98.7 % genetically similar.  So how do/did we fare so well in the game of survival of the fittest?

Have you read this? click pic to get.

Have you read this? click pic to get.

Big brains and running.

Anthropologists agree that humans used to run A LOT.  It was our default for when we were in danger.  It was also how we solved a lot of our prehistoric problems.  Hunting for food - we ran.  Warring with another tribe - we ran.  Want to win a tribal competition - we ran.  There are many other examples of when or why we would run.  Most of these examples held true until just a mere 100 years ago.  

Did you notice what most of the above examples of prehistoric human running situations had in common?  

We usually ran in groups. 

Prehistoric man had no hope of chasing down a large mammal for food alone.  Even if he/she caught it - then what?  Neither would it do him/her any good to storm the neighboring village alone.  This meant most of the running we did was done in groups.  Not only did we run in groups for many many situations of life, death, and play we also practiced for these occurrences nearly daily.  We did it so often, that many scientists argue that the act of running has become embedded within our DNA.  With running embedded into our DNA, is it any wonder why we flock to these situations now?  It doesn't take much research to find that the popularity marathons has surged across the nation.  It is estimated that around 125,000 people finished marathons in 1980.  In 2005 it was estimated that more than 500,000 people finished marathons.  

I have discovered that running in groups is fun.  Very fun.  It was the missing component.  Frankly, the transcendental thought of running through the hills and highways alone, clearing my mind and being one with nature is STUPID, to me.  Sounds about as relaxing as a high-noon daily butt-kicking. 

I have never really run in a group.  For that matter I haven't really ever run with a partner. It's cool.  We are going to do more of it around here.  Look for events as they appear on the Workout of the Day blog.  And JOIN in.  I know you don't believe it.  I know you probably hate it as much as I do/did.  But try it in a group a couple of times.  You might like it. 

I'm not going to lie.  Running in a group doesn't make the running any better.  But, for me,  it does make the experience worth having.  Why?  Dunno.  Maybe it is because I realize running is VERY good for me physically.  Maybe it is because I want to overcome weakness that is decades old.  Maybe it's prehistoric DNA.  Whatever it is - I'll take it.  After all, (group) running is (probably) human.