Running commentary

Tara Parker-Pope picks up the "endurance running" hypothesis:

The scientific evidence supports the notion that humans evolved to be runners. In a 2007 paper in the journal Sports Medicine, Daniel E. Lieberman, a Harvard evolutionary biologist, and Dennis M. Bramble, a biologist at the University of Utah, wrote that several characteristics unique to humans suggested endurance running played an important role in our evolution.

Most mammals can sprint faster than humans having four legs gives them the advantage. But when it comes to long distances, humans can outrun almost any animal. Because we cool by sweating rather than panting, we can stay cool at speeds and distances that would overheat other animals. On a hot day, the two scientists wrote, a human could even outrun a horse in a 26.2-mile marathon.

I wish she'd have interviewed some skeptics. As it is, the article is basically a sales flyer for Christopher McDougall's book, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. I don't see anything wrong with an article that falls on the side of the running idea, but I'd like to see some cogent criticism -- it's definitely a minority viewpoint.

There is this:

So if were born to run, why are runners so often injured?

Good question. Improper training (the answer in the article) is not a good evolutionary answer. It's almost as if people weren't built to take this kind of punishment...