When was the last time you ran? I’m willing to bet that whether or not the answer is last night or last year or even last leap year, the circumstances were similar: You were wearing running clothes, running shoes, and were at a running venue of your choosing. Continuing with my assumptions, you were there to “train” and there was a warm-up and probably some stretching. But there was one critical element missing: Need.
Need? What does that even mean? I “need” to lose weight/get in shape/improve my cardio/prep for a race/etc etc etc. Therefore, I “need” to run. Yeah…that’s not how I would define “need.” Even a Kenyan, running at an event of some sort, chasing a first, second or third place purse just to put food on the table still doesn’t “need” to run. This is a classic case of “you’re doing it wrong.”
Fine, define “need” then. Ok, here we go: people need to run when they have to evade something trying to hurt or kill them, such as a predator or villain. Or maybe a person needs to hurt or kill prey or even another person. People also need to run when an environment has become dangerous, i.e. a volcanic flow or an earthquake has made it necessary to escape the current locale. And hell, let’s just admit it, maybe people have to run just to get away from the damn police. We’ve all been there, right? Right? ….ok, maybe only some of us have been there…
Either way, there is one commonality amongst all of the activities in the “need” category: there is little, if any, room for choice. Interestingly enough, all of those needs are also scenarios that every other creature in the animal kingdom are faced with frequently (except for maybe the police scenario…I don’t think tigers have a police force, do they??). Seriously, could you imagine if an animal had to meet the same criteria to run that modern humans do? Put on special shoes and do special warm ups in a special place designed especially for such things? Hunters would starve or hunted wouldn’t stand a chance.
When a lion knows there is prey nearby, it up and chases it down. When a gazelle knows that said lion is out to eat it, it up and runs away. No warm ups, no lacing of fancy shoes, no stepping out to the track. Can you do that? Probably not. In fact, I’m going to guess that the idea of jumping out of your seat right now and sprinting down the block is a bit scary. It really shouldn’t be though.
Let’s step back for a second. I hope that you never have to run. Be it out of survival or combat, we’ve worked hard for our modern world and should reasonably expect a degree of safety that makes such a thing obsolete. However, there are two problems with that kind of thinking: 1. Shit happens. 2. Your body is meant to be prepared for when shit happens. This does not mean preparing for some abstract potentiality in an effort to survive a one-in-a-million possibility, but rather taking full advantage of your evolved self (more on this in upcoming posts).
Actual insight and recommendations on running will come in future blog posts, but in the meantime, treat this as a mental exercise. Running shoes are a product of the 1970s, running programs from the 1980s and sweat-wicking material the 1990s. Human beings needed to run tens of thousands of years before any of these inventions, so why is your running contingent on them?