We were Born to Run

Almost every serious runner eventually gets around to reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. It’s all about how human beings are engineered to run.

The core premise of the book is that our body is evolutionarily well-adapted to long-distance running.

When you think of fast sprinters, your brain probably jumps to cheetahs or horses. However when it involves running long ranges, it’s actually Homo sapiens who take the lead.

The reason why? It’s inside our physiology.

For just one, humans have the ability to dissipate temperature quicker than other pets.

Almost every other mammals don’t have the right glands in their epidermis to cool off via perspiration, so their main way for releasing body temperature is through respiration.

When four-legged animals want to perform fast, they break right into a gallop. This technique of working, though quick, restricts their respiration rate because the moving quads squish the animal’s lung area like bellows. Because of this, when working fast, most pets can only inhale and exhale for a price of one breathing per stride.

This works fine on their behalf – until they reach the critical limit of which they warm up faster than they can cool off. They have to avoid running to be able to survive.

We humans, on the other hands, prevent overheating by perspiration through the skin we have. Because of this, the human respiration routine is not dependent on our need to cool off, which makes it better at procuring air and maintaining stamina.

A second main factor which makes humans get good at runners is that people proceed two legs rather than four.


When early humans started to walk upright – thus freeing their hands to use tools and reach higher hanging fruits – it allowed their throats to open and chests to expand. Though this development emerged at the trouble of sprinting swiftness, this new position and the upsurge in air capacity allowed them to keep working over long ranges.

Finally, our Achilles’ tendon is the third trait distinguishing humans as runners.

Some 95 percent of individual DNA correlates with this of our close genetic comparative, the chimpanzee, but even these primates don’t have this flexible, rubber-band-like cable of collagen tissues in their lower calf. As it’s extended, the tendon stores energy until it’s prepared to be released when the calf propels your body forwards. This maximizes our stamina because it will take us less energy to springtime in one step to another.

It all leads to lots of people loving to run. Even if non-runners can’t understand them at all.

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