From the length of our toes, to the presence of an Achilles tendon, to our metabolism, many scientists argue that humans are the best runners on the planet—possibly in the history of the planet.
As biological organisms, we are hardwired for adaptation. Nothing about the human system is static. We are constantly evolving to match the demands of the world we live in, and the way we use our bodies to overcome the challenges of the world around us. This has always been our survival strategy.
At Samsara, we believe that the secret to human performance lies in our biological and evolutionary history. When we look at the most recent chapter in human evolution—through the homo genus—we see how running, more than any other movement has shaped our development.
Born to Run
The reason we love to run so much today is because it’s in our genes. We inherited the ability—and the desire—from our ancestors.
Two of the original purposes of running may have been to follow wounded prey while hunting and to escape from predators. Indeed, specific aspects of running like speed as well as endurance—the ability to just keep going—were likely crucial for survival1.
In addition to survival, there’s evidence we ran for recreational purposes early on in our evolution. As we became more adept at running, we began venturing farther from home.
The human journey out of Africa, the urge to explore beyond the jungle, the need to cross rivers, climb mountains, and traverse continents; all of these are examples of how we’ve been driven to run.
It Pays to Have a Spring in Your Step
Although humans no longer need to run, the capacity and proclivity to run marathons is the modem manifestation of a uniquely human trait that help make humans the way we are.2
The evolution of human foot architecture makes for an incredibly efficient plantar system. In fact, nowhere else in our bodies do we have the energy return that we have in the ankle.
Our bodies are designed to run—and the activity does the body a world of good, too.
Benefits of Running
Today, running is at the heart of almost every sport, from basketball to fast & light alpinism. Training for running is one of the best things that any athlete can do. It can help:
- Correct posture
- Build aerobic capacity
- Train the elastic system
- Create an unparalleled sense of euphoria (many scientists believe that the runners high is actually an evolutionary trait that allowed us to over come the hardships of distance running!)
Coach Z's Running Tips
No run is too small. Run a mile, break up your run with stretches of walking, or go for a run with friends.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO MEASURE IT
When just you’re just stating out, there’s no need to track anything. Go for a run just for sensation or fun.
FOLLOW YOUR HUNGER
As your hunger grows, then you can start exploring your abilities. Consider joining a running club or signing up for a race.
As modern humans, we have lost a lot of our running abilities, and often when we do go running, we injure ourselves. Here at Samsara, we completely understand—it happens to us, too!
TRAINING FOR RUNNING
We designed our training plans to help you improve your performance and stay injury-free. If you’re interested in running training, check out our Cirque Series Training Plan and get back to running. After all, it’s what you were born to do!
1) Schulkin J (2016) Evolutionary Basis of Human Running and Its Impact on Neural Function. Front. Syst. Neurosci. 10:59. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2016.00059
2) Lieberman, Daniel E., and Dennis M. Bramble. 2007. The evolution of marathon running: Capabilities in humans. Sports Medicine. 37(4-5): 288-290
3) Gregory S. Sawicki1, Cara L. Lewis2, and Daniel P. Ferris2
1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University, Providence, RI, 02912
2Division of Kinesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109-2013