Monday, January 30, 2012

If you are human, you are a runner

Yes YOU, biologically speaking, you are a runner. The question is, when did you lose the ability to run? How long has it been since you ran? As youngsters we grow up running then at some point, you stopped.
Some 2.3 million years ago human evolution took a huge leap. Researchers believe it was because of the introduction of protein into our diet. Meat. What is interesting about this fact in this jump in evolution is it occurred prior to the invention of tools. Humans engaged in persistence hunting, chasing an animal for hours until it overheated, making it easy to kill at close range. We are built for distance running. We have a great cooling system (our many sweat glands and little body hair), with upright posture and massive gluteus maximus muscles, springy ligaments, and toes.
In this day and age of computers, cars, motorized wheel chairs, and over-processed foods, we have learned to suppress our natural instinct to run. The hustle and bustle of life has replaced normal physiology. We as humans are lazy. Sedentary life styles contribute overwhelmingly to the health issues as we age, not age itself. Our habits trend toward increasingly sedentary ways as we age.
What’s keeping you from picking up and running? Does the reason have something to do with the biggest misconception about running, that running is bad on the joints? WRONG! There is absolutely no research to back that claim up.  Studies in the last few years are finding that we have BETTER joint health with running than without. Did you know that the risk-factors for heart disease (smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes) are more related to poor joint health than running?  That is correct, a healthy lifestyle will result in healthy joint surfaces.
If you have tried running and quit I would argue that running wasn’t the problem. What if you went too fast, too soon? What if you went too slow?  Is it possible you did not “dose” the introduction of running properly and safely? People tend to jump to conclusions, that they are not capable of such a feat. My favorite words are “I never thought I could do that.” If you have the strength and conditioning to run, it does not hurt to run. It is never too late to start. Can you train to marathon distance right out of the gate? Can you shoot for a 18 min 5K the first time out? No! Slow it down, dose it smart, and move your body forward. I leave you with 2 of the best examples:
Lew Hollander- An 80 year old man who has competed at the IronMan World Championships 21 years in a row. Yes, 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run (marathon) in 100-120 degree heat on a volcano. I think he has the key. Check him out.
The Iron Nun. Sister Madonna Buder. Began running at 48 years old. 385 triathlons later, including 30 plus iron distance races she is still competing and forcing Ironman to invent new age groups at the world championships for her to compete in, she is 81 years young. Check her out too!

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