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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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April 21, 2009

Did Humans Evolve to Be Long-Distance Runners?

By Mark Sisson
182 Comments

Thanks to the several readers who have pointed out this recent article in SEED Magazine which once again dredges up the tired argument that humans evolved to be long-distance runners. Most of you know by now that I totally disagree with that theory. I say humans evolved to be excellent slow movers (walk, jog, migrate, forage, crawl, scramble, etc) burning mostly fat. We also developed into pretty decent short sprinters, but we did NOT evolve to run long distances. Sure, early humans were all-around fit enough and capable of the occasional long easy jaunt after an animal, but to think that natural selection redesigned our simian shapes to run the Boston Marathon is, in my opinion, ludicrous.

We’ve hashed this out a bunch in the past when a Men’s Health magazine article a few years ago quoted Dr. Daniel Lieberman, a leading proponent of the “ER” (endurance running) hypothesis as suggesting that early humans would run an animal to death by chasing it for for 5 or 10 miles until it died of heat stroke. They call it persistence hunting. I find the idea – that this behavior led to some specialized human evolution as distance runners – to be preposterous on several levels. First, much of the fossil record suggests early humans were scavengers and lived pretty well off road kill until they started employing weapons a few hundred thousand years ago. No real need to run long distances when you can walk, hide, climb, sprint and crawl to scavenge. Secondly, it’s one thing to track and stalk an animal (using your superior intelligence) with walking, occasional jogging and a few sprints here and there. That’s a primarily fat-burning pursuit and it’s probably how our ancestors actually hunted. But once you have to shift into glucose/glycogen mode to run aggressively for long distances, it’s a whole different ballgame and you encounter a big problem. Run out of glycogen chasing a beast too long in the heat and you become exhausted yourself. If you are lucky enough to bag the beast, at least you get to eat now (albeit mostly protein and fats which won’t completely restore your glycogen reserves). But fail in your mission and your sorry, fatigued, glycogen-depleted butt is now vulnerable to becoming some other beast’s dinner. ER makes no sense to me from an evolutionary perspective.

So now comes Lieberman again in this latest study in The Journal of Experimental Biology (abstract) that compared the mechanical forces in the feet and the metabolic costs of generating these forces to arrive at the following conclusion: “The increased mechanical cost associated with long toes in running suggests that modern human forefoot proportions might have been selected for in the context of the evolution of endurance running.” He basically argues that humans evolved to have shorter toes than our simian relatives because longer-toed relatives were selected out. That same theory would therefore imply that longer-toed ancestors died off at a greater rate as a result of needing an average of a tiny bit more fuel to run after prey for long distances? Hmmm. I’m not buying it and I’m surprised that the JEB bought it. Since the study concluded that there is no difference in cost between long toes and short toes when walking, I could even use that data to shore up my theory that we evolved to be efficient walkers who could sprint when required and who were fit enough to run after the occasional mastodon if it made sense. And then there’s this: If men did most of the hunting, how is it that women are better suited to ultra running than men (compared to shorter running events) and a modern female like Ann Trason can beat most men today straight up in every ultra running event she enters? (Granted, she could be an outlier.)

Of course, the ER proponents typically cite the Tarahumara as current examples of the human genetic propensity to run long distances. This tribe of indigenous Mexican people are known for their prowess in running great distances (often 50-80 miles in a day) and for their participation in occasional persistence hunting, where they literally chase down deer until it is so exhausted they can walk up to it and kill it. But other scientists suggest that the Tarahumara’s endurance is based more on a cultural adaptation (no cars, no phones, no mail service), training, diet and conditioning than it is on heredity. Some 80% of their diet is complex carbs from grains and beans. That goes back to my primary argument as to why we did NOT evolve to be distance runners. Until we had a ready source of reliable high-carb fuel, made available through agriculture, any sort of regular distance running (chronic cardio) was a natural selection killer. Eating grains every day at every meal certainly replenishes the glycogen stores, so you can go out and do it again tomorrow. But why?

Most anthropologists would agree we didn’t evolve to swim. We learned how to make our way through water without drowning and we do it pretty effectively for a land mammal. That doesn’t make it natural or adaptive. Similarly, I say we learned to run marathons when we had the luxury of unlimited carbohydrates. That doesn’t make it adaptive or natural.

One final point I’ll address is the claim that the large size of the human gluteus maximus is further evidence in favor of the ER theory. I would argue that the move to bipedalism makes the default resting position the squat (as I touched on in this video) and that the range of motion and strength required for this position necessitates strong and well-developed gluteus maximus and hamstring muscles. Look no further than your local gym to see how people train these muscles – squats, lunges, deadlifts etc.

Further Reading:

Bloggers and Strength Coaches Name Their 3 Favorite Exercises

Washboard Abs on a High-Fat Diet, No Ab Workouts and No Cardio?

Vibram FiveFingers

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182 Comments on "Did Humans Evolve to Be Long-Distance Runners?"

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Ryan Denner
7 years 5 months ago

Even as an endurance athlete, I completely agree with you on this.

Joe
Joe
7 years 5 months ago

Not that this is scientific evidence… BUT, every long distance runner/endurance athlete I know, which is quite a few, gets sick ALL THE TIME. They constantly have sinus infections, respiratory infections, colds/flus, you name it. I can’t imagine that would increase the survival rate.

Harry
Harry
7 years 1 month ago

No males on my distance team (including myself) are frequently sick. 8 hours of sleep and good meals to go along with hard training = good health.

Kelly
Kelly
6 years 5 months ago

Agreed! My ex did over 30 marathons over his lifetime and i was always concerned how often he would get sick… I seldom get sick myself and don’t run nearly as much- not my preferred form of exercise. Mmm, maybe a coincidence?

Jay
Jay
3 years 5 months ago

As an elite marathon kayaker training for major events, I often got sick, which resulted in the loss of valuable training time. I think the psychological aspect of knowing that your body is constantly on the verge of illness adds to the likelihood as well. Bit of a vicious circle really. It was generally upper respiratory infections, colds and sinus problems. Since I’ve stopped training in that way and have adopted a more primal way of training I am very rarely sick. Anecdotal evidence but pretty clear in my mind.

Matt
Matt
6 years 2 months ago

Limited personal experience is a poor substitute for scientific data. I run a lot. My wife doesn’t. She gets sick much more often than I do. I’m not about to say that proves endurance athletes get sick less.

Re: “Tarahumara’s endurance is based more on a cultural adaptation (no cars, no phones, no mail service), training, diet and conditioning than it is on heredity.”

Right… so before we all had cars, phones, hunting rifles, etc., wouldn’t that make all humans culturally adapted?

Primal Toad
5 years 7 months ago

This is what I was thinking too but then I read about the fact that the Tarahumaras diet is in fact about 80% corn and beans. That is a shit load of carbs which helps then run long distances.

I just finished reading Born to Run which motivated me to go out and run more. I won’t be running in ultras but I now see myself completing a marathon at least once in my lifetime.

I LOVE 5K’s however 🙂

josh c
josh c
4 years 3 months ago
I agree Matt. I think this article is bogus. It’s like people forget that before we created all of these electronic gadgets that we actually had to walk or run to get our food instead of sit at our desks all day which has caused us to become “scared” of any exercise over 30 minutes. It’s not normal. We weren’t designed to sit in chairs for 8-9 hours a day, walk for 30 minutes only and then sit back down in front of a TV all night. I have run over 20 marathons in a 2 and 1/2 year period… Read more »
mell
mell
5 years 5 months ago

I don’t:) I’m a competitive distance runner….on the primal blue print diet….I’ve found a way to make it work for me:) Lots of miles and healthy body!! (I run around 120+ km a week) Thanks for all the great nutrition info it’s helped my performance tremendously ….but I believe some of us are certainly made to run…..

Paul
5 years 2 months ago

Mell,

What do you use for nutrition during your long runs? Gu has been my staple for running marathons. Pasta loading has been another. These things have kept me from trying the Paleo diet. I’m one that wants to bench press 245 lbs and run a marathon in under 4 hours. Seemed like a good balance to me at the age of 41.

Lital
Lital
2 years 6 months ago

Paul,
I was paleo first, distance runner later. You don’t need pasta to carb-load. You’re body is most likely to utilize carbs for glycogen after you exercise, so do any kind of exercise and then eat tons of paleo friendly or paleo acceptable carbs – sweet potato, buckwheat, etc – right afterwards.

On the runs I have been using gu’s just because I haven’t had the time to experiment, but I’ve heard LOTS of ideas from runners for alternative fuel – bananas, nuts, my favorite idea was dates stuffed with salt & coconut oil.

koko
koko
7 years 5 months ago

If I told how many times I have gone down this – logical- road with some people and gotten verbally beaten up for it you’d laugh, or you’d probably know the reaction more than I would. I gave up trying, as I continue to watch many still doing it with knee braces, back aches, joint and foot issues and so on – so I just do my thing, sprint like a ferret in heat for 30 minutes and go home.

Justin Owings
7 years 5 months ago
It’s hard to go “toe-to-toe” with the running industry given it is so entrenched in our modern culture — what (slightly overweight) average American doesn’t assume that marathoners are the pinnacle of health? And you have an industry built up around the products used by runners — even those that seem to do more harm than good. Which brings me to an article in the Daily Mail the other day that (like the NY Mag article “You Walk Wrong”) tackles the problems of modern sneakers vs. our foot’s biological engineering. It’s a fairly exhaustive read, so I summarized some of… Read more »
David
David
7 years 5 months ago
First of all I love your articles Mark, very well written. On this topic though I need to understand something. I always thought a ketogenic diet or one close to it would be the ultimate/ideal long-distance runners diet. On ridiculous long @$$ treks like these wouldn’t you be burning primarily FAT(and possibly some muscle protein depending upon a thousand other variables) after say 20 min (or possibly close to an hour depending upon your speed) even if you were eating a carb-based diet? This is assuming of course you aren’t running with a 12-pack of Gatorade or w/e long-distance runners… Read more »
Paul Charteris
Paul Charteris
7 years 5 months ago
From the outset, I’ll state that I am a trail ultramarathon runner. That we evolved to “to run the Boston Marathon is, in my opinion, ludicrous.” I agree. A road 5k to marathon is typically a high-intensity exercise that quickly depletes glycogen stores, not to mention the runner being near a high anaerobic threshold and often pounding their legs in a hard, artificial surface. Contrast to the run I did on Sunday a distance of 50 miles with 26,000 feet combined gain/loss, intense heat and all of it on trails. I was walking for perhaps 50% of the time, over… Read more »
John
John
6 years 9 days ago

Running long distances like that over long periods of time really can kill you. Not only do you burn fat and carbs, but you also exhaust your immune system. When this happens, you are at higher risk of cancers and many other diseases. Your body will think it’s in a survival situation and mask any signs of any illness until it’s too late. Excersize should only be done in moderation; much like over-eating, eating junk food and drinking alcohol.

jim
jim
4 years 28 days ago

you’re an idiot John.

Nur
Nur
5 months 17 days ago

you are so cool and eloquent.

I feel that also, in this article the author forgets the scientific arrow that points to the question of, “But seriously, how did we humans take over this place?”

Was it by walking long distances and conserving resources? But how did we protect ourselves? I know typically animals deal in a language of dominance, I wonder what we used to show ours..

Chris
7 years 5 months ago
Heartily agree with you Mark. There are numerous reasons and good evidence as to why we were and are ambushers, stealthy stalkers and tool users. First and foremost among these is the development of our brains, it was our ability to plan, forsee events and construct strategies for possible outcomes which allowed us to become the pre eminent hunter. It is far easier, more energy efficient and less physically risky to stalk and or ambush prey than it is to run it down, the development of tool use further heighted this process to the point where we developed ranged weapons,… Read more »
Matt
Matt
6 years 2 months ago

“First and foremost among these is the development of our brains”

One of the ideas Lieberman states is that the steady meat supply running enabled provided the protein necessary to allow for the sudden development of the human brain. It is well-documented that the human brain had a dramatic size increase. There’s just never been a good explanation for why that development happened.

Cynthia
7 years 5 months ago
I agree with Paul. Running at anaerobic threshold may be a silly thing to do for long periods of time, since it will leave you exhausted (for a short while at least) and vulnerable to predators or enemies, but jogging/aerobic work (i.e., mostly fat burning as opposed to lactate contributed by fast twitch muscle with subsequent glycogen depletion) is much more sustainable. I do agree with you that the current racing and training emphasis is on carb replacement (~700g/day) and that seems really excessive and unnecessary to me, and would not have been possible before agriculture. I wish someone would… Read more »
James
James
4 years 11 months ago

One thing I had thought about is that there is a natural inefficiency when you swap from a walking gait to a running gait. I once read a study where a group of guys walked a mile in about 19 minutes and burned roughly 50 calories. They then jogged the mile in about 9 or 10 minutes and burned 100 calories covering the same distance. In a primitive world where food was scarce, it seems like jogging just wouldn’t be a smart tactic given it requires double the energy for the same mileage.

Geoff
Geoff
7 years 5 months ago

Recent article:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1170253/The-painful-truth-trainers-Are-expensive-running-shoes-waste-money.html

“Thrust enhancers, roll bars, microchips…the $20 billion running – shoe industry wants us to believe that the latest technologies will cushion every stride. Yet in this extract from his controversial new book, Christopher McDougall claims that injury rates for runners are actually on the rise, that everything we’ve been told about running shoes is wrong – and that it might even be better to go barefoot…”

Gasp! Who knew? 😉

Kevin
Kevin
7 years 5 months ago

Chris I know what you mean about the effects of agriculture, but its advent is not “unfortunate” by any reasonable standard. Agriculture is what allows people to work on things other than find their next meal, and the freedom to do those things is what enables us all to provide all these services to each other. Agriculture is also critical to people’s ability to eat like hunter gatherers without having to live like them. No fair calling the development of farming “unfortunate”.

James
James
3 years 6 months ago

Actually, if you look at the Masai or any of the other hunter/gatherer societies(both current or historically) they put in a lot LESS work than any agricultural society. I believe the average time spent working was 15 hours per week… Because of the excess leisure, they had very well developped social systems and systems of play/recreation.

Paulie
7 years 5 months ago

Dr. Daniel Lieberman’s position is not so anti-primal as it may appear at first look. If you read his articles and others on the topic you will see that the type of running he envisions is relatively low intensity and totally unlike what one does during a marathon race. A fit, fat adapted individual running at these lower intensities would not consume large amounts of glycogen and would be similar in metabolic effect to a fast walk for most of us.

Chris
7 years 5 months ago

Kevin,
I agree completely, my remark was meant as a tounge in cheek quip. I enjoy immensly the life that agriculture and the domestication of animals has afforded me, however that same process has afforded us the ability to do some realy stupid stuff as a species

Kim
Kim
7 years 5 months ago
See, this is one good thing about being a hockey player: no need to argue whether the sport is natural or unnatural, the answer is obvious to everybody. 😉 Between scavenging and living at the beach (i.e., strategies heavy on the gathering), I wonder if we can even assume that hunting was a large enough pressure long enough to make a difference to our evolution. If you think about it, it’s a bit weird that we’re flexible enough that almost any individual can be a fairly anaerobic-glycolysis-loving sprinter/power athlete (like us hockey players) or a fairly fat-adapted distance athlete, as… Read more »
will
will
7 years 5 months ago
Our gluteous muscles aren’t large—just flabby (not yours, Mark!). The natural way to train the gluteous muscles is to simply squat more—not go to a gym and load up the spine. Also, we should activate them when walking (see Esther Gokhale) as in the third world. And the Erwan le Corre video shows a natural walking squat when passing under obstructions. When walking, simply begin contracting the gluteous muscles when the forward foot is planted in front of the pelvis. Also, add calf muscle contractions for added pushoff with a little psoas muscle action to advance the leg, and you… Read more »
Greg at Live Fit
7 years 5 months ago
I think the difference lies in how you define “running long distances.” If you define running over long distances as 30-miles at a 4-minute/mile pace, then I would agree. Humans can’t out-sprint large prey. We would burn through our glycogen stores in a matter of moments. But from a hunters perspective, the one thing humans do very efficiently is endurance. Think 10-15 minute mile pace, which is easily attainable over long distances with a combination of walking and jogging. Humans can manage that pace all day long. Couple prehistoric trackers with weapons such as an atladl or bow, and they… Read more »
mm
mm
6 years 1 month ago

+1

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[…] did humans evolve to be long distance runners? the painful truth about trainers […]

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[…] I’ll still stick to endurance running for a while even though I tend to agree with this. We can only guess how things are evolved. But seriously, how many of us know that it’s the […]

drpierredebs
drpierredebs
7 years 5 months ago
I am an endurance athlete (bike marathons) and I know many other endurance athletes. Neither myself or my comrades in mileage are ever sick and are rather very healthy. I think it is irrelevant whether or not humans have evolved for endurance. We do it. If we switch the time frame to Groks period, I am sure some of his club swinginging buddies where questioning if they had evolved to walk and not just stay in the water swimming or slivering on the ground. As with many, some people are genetically, physiologically and bio-mechanically for endurance sports. My body and… Read more »
Marcus
Marcus
7 years 5 months ago
I think the human organism is very highly adaptable. Some people are natural born runners, some are sprinters/jumpers, some are large and stocky and seem to be built for moving large amounts of weight. If you look at modern day hunter/gathers, most seem to stalk their pray and shoot at it with a poisoned arrows from fairly long distances, however their is the exception in the Kalahari Bushmen, whose traditional hunting method is persistence hunting. However their bows are unable to travel long distances(cultural adaption, as you said). They also walk very long distances(to us sedentary folk) every day, due… Read more »
Xtremum
Xtremum
7 years 5 months ago

The only problem I have with this is that I think what tends to happen is kind of what the HIT people did: say since this protocol is good/right we should do no other training. Do I think the argument that overdistance type training is unhealthy is correct? Yes, but I don’t think that means we can never go out and run more than a sprint or we can’t go mountain biking, etc. I think that is sometimes the message that is getting sent by these arguments.

Fitness Fabulous
7 years 5 months ago

I’d have to agree with you on this!

Take a look at the children at the playground – they can sprint easily but to get them to do an ER needs “training” – something which isn’t the most “natural” of actions I’d feel. Especially after how you mentioned the living conditions of ancient man.

Rick Strong
7 years 5 months ago

Wow. Quite a rebuttal, Mark. Your logic is based in your knowledge of physiology, ancestral diet, cultural adaptation and, empirically, on your own unique experience as former endurance athlete.

60 in 3 - Health and Fitness
7 years 5 months ago

We’re making assumptions based on theories, speculations and conjecture. I have no idea if long distance running is better than sprints or vice versa, I’ve seen studies that suggest either way, but I do know that doing either is much better than sitting on the couch.

For me, I enjoy 40 minutes of jogging more than 40 minutes of sprints, so that’s what I do. If intervals and sprints work for you, by all means, enjoy. 🙂

Gal

Rick Strong
7 years 5 months ago

Also, there is research demonstrating that chronic endurance training lowers testosterone temporarily- as does resistance training-leading one to the conlusion that working out everyday may not be a pathway to optimum health.

Steve
Steve
7 years 5 months ago

Mark,

You mentioned that humans didn’t evolve to swim and swimming is not natural or adaptive. Do you think swimming is a good exercise?

David
David
7 years 5 months ago

Gal

1) 40min jogging DOES NOT = 40min sprints

2) Who SPRINTS for 40 minutes?

emergefit
7 years 5 months ago

With regard to study: Education, technology, and the institutionalism of their speculative findings are lesser substitutes for cultivating one’s self, by and for one’s self, out of sheer curiosity, need, and/or desire.

Shed yourselves of agenda, all. Do. Be. Naked. Truth. Explore. Care. Reach. Grow.

Russ
Russ
7 years 5 months ago
Lieberman is not describing a marathon running gait in his article. A jog or slow run is all that is required, and would be quite glycogen sparing. It is possible for people to train their ability to oxidize fat better and better, and the likelihood of a group of humans that only ate fats and proteins, and dealt with physical activity all day were quite adept at burning fat more efficiently to power them. Also, the idea of humans chasing down faster animals over long distances is not absurd, it is something the aboriginals still practice today. It is quite… Read more »
mm
mm
6 years 1 month ago

I totally agree with this. The question of are we persistent joggers-hunters or exclusively printers is still unknown

Russ
Russ
7 years 5 months ago
Also, you do not need to eat carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores. In the absence of carbohydrates, the human body can, and does quite often, make glucose from carbohydrates through a process called gluconeogenesis, and this glucose will be used to replenish muscular and liver glycogen, as well as power most brain tissues, as many brain areas run much better off of glucose than the ketone bodies that are releases when fat is metabolized. Besides, at a slow run pace, glycogen is largely going to be spared, as it’s fast energy turnover won’t be needed for the energy requirements of… Read more »
Russ
Russ
7 years 5 months ago

Sorry for the third post, but I meant to say the body makes glucose from protein, not carbohydrates. Of course the body can make glucose from carbs. Duh.

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[…] FItting… […]

60 in 3 - Health and Fitness
7 years 5 months ago
@David, I realize they’re not the same. While I do respect Mark’s opinions a great deal and frequently link to his articles from my own blog, that doesn’t necessarily mean I have to agree with everything he says. So, since I have not yet seen very convincing evidence one way or another to show me one is clearly better, I’m going to assume that sprints are about the same as jogging. However, I’m know for a fact that doing either (or doing sprints for however long you want) is MUCH better than doing nothing. So pick the workout that you… Read more »
David
David
7 years 5 months ago
doing both are probably better for fat loss – IF you don’t overdo it I agree with most of your second paragraph, but as I stated earlier NO ONE sprints for 40 min. Maybe you meant HIIT, but even for that its hard to find experts advising over 20min of intervals. 5-15 is usually the norm I’ve seen. I personally do both. Neither is a lot of fun for different reasons. LISS (esp. when done on a treadmill) can be mind-numbingly boring. I mean really boring. HIIT – if your doing it right is HARD. REALLY HARD. Still it is… Read more »
Tomasz T.
Tomasz T.
7 years 5 months ago

Mark, I like your site, but like so many evolutionary arguments/controversies, this is really a contest of “just so” stories.

For me, the evidence is really compelling in some aspects. Take sweat glands — long distance running is pretty much the only real use for them.

Em
Em
3 years 10 months ago

….not really @Tomasz T., nice try though. Sweat glands are used anytime the body needs to cool itself off. It’s a survival tool and long distance running is definitely not the only time they are useful to human health.

Trinkwasser
Trinkwasser
7 years 5 months ago
“All the best athletes are black” is a truism. However I have read some compleeing evidence that *specific* East African populations are genetically loaded to produce more slow twitch muscle fibres (I think I got that the right way round) hence those skinny distance runners who go on and on. *Specific* West African populations have genes which predispose to more fast twitch fibres, hence the sprinters with their big round muscles (Merlene Ottey I still love you!) (*Specific* Australian populations have hugely increased visual acuity and eidetic recall.) It’s all coincidence that they are black, probably since they evolved way… Read more »
David
David
7 years 4 months ago
@ LisaR If you’re arguing that you’ll eat back your calories due to sprints, then WHY WOULD YOU ARGUE FOR A GREATER CALORIE BURN DUE TO LISS? Totally dismisses your first two points. Lyle McDonald is also known for advocating 2-3 HIIT sessions/week. He is against EVERYDAY HIIT WITH NO RECOVERY. You misinterpreted him. Sprints don’t give you poor results. That makes no sense at all. Unless you aren’t really doing them hard. And if somehow you were doing sprints, if they weren’t giving you results why in gods name would you continue to do them for ELEVEN years? Remember… Read more »
David
David
7 years 4 months ago
@LisaR Did you even read what I wrote?! Please go back and reread. Maybe even twice. And name calling/altering is usually the sign of someone who is a sore “loser”. I never said I advocated HIIT or LISS. I DO BOTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please reread what I read and respond to each point if you are able and inspired. Maybe your someone who can’t discuss this and has their mind made up. You sound like someone who is inflexible and acting immature. I never claimed to be a scientist, but at least I don’t make absurd claims. I seemed to have made… Read more »
David
David
7 years 4 months ago

In the previous comment it should say “Please reread what I wrote and respond…..”

🙂

David
David
7 years 4 months ago

Let the record show that David has given up on Liza. He has realized that two-way communication with it, is a forlorn endeavor.

will
will
7 years 4 months ago
Sprints don’t directly burn fat, but exercises which use the fast-twitch muscle fibers, like sprinting, jumping, and climbing, promote fat loss by increasing cellular mitochondria numbers by as much as a factor of five; and mitochondria burn fat even when you’re not exercising. Now, Tabata, which uses short rests, does seem extreme–like flirting with a heart attack (a personal concern as I’m 66). Actually, the ideal for maximum fat loss is doing one sprint every hour. But I just go once a week for a 40 minute walk along an asphalt creek trail and do a group of sprints with… Read more »
Jordan
Jordan
7 years 4 months ago
Humans were long distance travelers, by running, walking, swimming, etc. But you think we competed with animals in ancient times. No, we competed with eachother. And it paid to be faster and stronger and able to cover more ground than the competition. Sometimes it paid to have great long distance endurance and speed when getting to the best hunting grounds faster, or when a warrior double-timed it to get the advance on his enemy, and still be ready for battle. Only the strongest and most enduring would survive. Most people didn’t live long back then. No need to worry about… Read more »
Dmitrij Petters
Dmitrij Petters
7 years 4 months ago
Even though I have little truly scientific knowledge about this, I would agree with the following. 1. The human body is inferior to animals – except for long-distance running. The best long-distance runners can outrun any animal, whether it be a horse or dog. 2. However, it’s not right to say that we evolved into long distance runners, for some of our ancestors did not hunt, but instead walked around and gathered stuff. Thus, while some of our traits are indeed advantageous for running (hence #1), many are not. 3. It’s not clear cut and never will be. I’m a… Read more »
David Brzostowicki
David Brzostowicki
7 years 3 months ago
Well guess what Gene, I think Mark has a lot more than his own personal expierience to work off of. I’ll tell you about mine, and im sure mine is similiar to others. I’m 18 now, and used to be a long distance runner; ran in high school. I ran about 40-50 miles a week, 5 days a week, for leisure(more like grueling work), and upwards of 70-80 for competition. I was pretty good, and always ran at medieum-high intensity. What was the payoff for this? I had to consume ALOT of food, mainly processed crap, and guess what? I… Read more »
George
George
4 years 7 months ago

You are 18? Some people have been running 3x as long as you are alive. I do not mean to discount your observations, but your don’t have much experience to back them up.

Why did you have to consume a lot of processed food? I am 52 and I run 50+ miles a week and plan to run a 100 mile race in July. I don’t eat any processed food. I eat low carb. Run long and slow. I feel great.

Lloyd Shaw
3 months 15 days ago

Yes. I am a mortician and have embalmed people who smoked until they are 90.

You are using the oldest trick in the book to back up your argument….. “but that person is still doing it , so it must be Ok ”

The fact is, a huge majority of smokers die younger, and a huge majority of young runners are injury plagued by mid 20s and are forced to give up.

A small % are left to run in marathons.

Saying otherwise is highly unethical and just makes everything else you say come under a cloud of doubt.

John
John
7 years 2 months ago
I don’t know where to put this comment, if I want it to be seen… Anyway, I’m fairly active and I mainly single speed mountain bike. The other day I tried some full on sprints on the sidewalk in front of my house. I didn’t sprint very far, and I only did a few. I cannot believe how sore my hip flexors and upper thighs are! I had no idea this would happen, can’t believe how long the soreness is lasting, and can’t believe how much I use these every day and don’t realize it. Is this normal for someone… Read more »
koko
koko
7 years 2 months ago

Its very normal. I experienced the same thing. We do use these muscles daily but not with this kind of intensity.

Give it a few days or even a week and go again. Gradually the recovery will only take a day or even less.

The first time I did full-out sprints it took me about 9 days to recover, but then I did go a bit nuts the first time. IS there any other way to sprint?
I’ll say this about it, it is exhilarating and exciting to move that fast!

John
John
7 years 2 months ago

koko,

Thanks for the reply! I’m so glad to know this is normal. I was just trying it out with my dog running down the grass. It does seem like something I should continue. I only did 3 or 5 short sprints that day… I’ll give it time, and increase my numbers and or distance slowly.

Hopefully it will help my mountain bike riding as well!

Darwinist
Darwinist
7 years 1 month ago

If we didn’t evolve to be long distance runners, why are we good at it? I think you’re forgetting that literally all of our qualities are a result of darwinian evolution. Persistence hunting does not rely on heat stroke, it relies on wounding an animal with thrown weapons and then tracking it until it is weak enough to kill without significant physical risk, and it is still practiced by most aboriginals today.

Weylyn
Weylyn
7 years 11 days ago

Look up Tarahumara Indians or their actual name Raramuri. They are capable of keeping pace with deers and even let them run from them until they collapse of exhaustion. And yes they still exist in the Copper Canyons of Mexico. They are amazing ultra distance runners and can run all day and do it again the next. We originally did evolve into long-distance runners but tools made it so that it was not a necessity.

Lloyd Shaw
3 months 15 days ago
They do not run, they shuffle. And they do not do it alone. It is also done in loose fitting shoes and on uneven soft ground running around stony ground. And it is not a race. It is not timed. Nothing like the OCD on road running that is promoted as emulating their hunting techniques. If you do not understand how these two completely different running methods are in massive conflict with each other. I suggest you know nothing about the human body. And are deliberately missing out important points to fit your pre-existing bias. Eg……. These tribes do not… Read more »
Runner
Runner
7 years 11 hours ago

your an idiot

Bola
Bola
6 years 10 months ago

Hello: I found this blog while researching bipedalism in human species, mostly scientific papers. It’s helpful to read comments by actual runners instead of “guesses” by researchers. One thing I would say, is that just about everyone projects modern lifestyles on early humans, but this is backwards: how we use our bodies for locomotion is a result of bipedalism; there are no goals in evolution. Hunting is the result of exploiting our various abilities. Thanks…

Johan
Johan
6 years 10 months ago
Beeing an endurance runner myself, I think Mark is wrong. Mark writes that the Tarahumara’s exceptionall skills in endurance run is a culteral adaption and not genetic, because “no cars, no phones…”. But 10000 years ago, who had a phone? We were forced to run if we want to communicate or find food or a mate. If you were a better runner you had an advantage, the walker were left behind. We evolved on the african steppes and there you have to run to get a deer. Even if we were only scavangers we had to run when we saw… Read more »
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