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Persistence Hunting

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  • Persistence Hunting

    I have recently began looking through this website and I am very impressed with everything from the nutrition to the success stories that everybody has. However, one thing that I have noticed is that the PB view on fitness is slightly off... Mark repeatedly says that long distance cardio is not primal and thus has no place in this lifestyle. However, there is TONS of scientific research done by intellects such as Harvard's Anthropology Professor Daniel Lieberman that for over two million years, humans hunted not by shooting arrows or throwing spears but rather running the animal to exhaustion.

    Persistence Hunting is that technique. Through persistence hunting, Grok would have used superior tracking and running skills to chase an antelope to exhaustion-using a knife to finish the animal off at the very end. There are even some indigenous tribes such as the Kalahari Bushmen that still use this technique today and during these hunts, a human would have run consistently for upwards of 9 hours-totaling around 75 miles.

    So my question is: Why is long distance running not considered "primal" if Grok would have been logging a massive number of miles per week?

  • #2
    Oh boy...

    That was among my first questions when I joined.

    If you look around the forums you'll find that question answered before.

    Personally I do agree that chronic cardio is bad, but running at an easy pace that can be maintained for hours doesn't count as CC (not racing in a marathon).

    I'm sure you'll get some better answers in a bit.
    Once you learn that you create your own reality and that you are fully responsible for your life, you can begin to see the world as it is and then you realize the limitless possibilities.


    • #3
      This definitly has been answered before. but I, like you guys, don't really agree with what people say. I am more inclined to say that human beings can do almost any thing and eat almost anything. They can be productive and live fairly long lives. I also think that what is more important than how far you are running is whether you are stressed chronically. If it bothers you to run a lot then don't. If it makes you feel good to run for a long ways then do it. Living stress free ranks higher in my book than almost anything else.

      But I'm sure people will disagree. Thats fine.



      • #4
        I would say there are several big difference between running or training for a marathon, and persistence hunting.

        With a marathon, you are likely training every day, or every other day, and are pushing yourself harder - there is always a goal with each run, some time marker, some distance marker. All that adds up to unnecessary stress.

        With persistence hunting, I would imagine no one really cares if you are running fast or slow, as long are you are still moving. You can probably take a break, walk a bit, then keep running. You are not doing it everyday, or every other day for that matter - it probably was every so often. And though there might be a stress factor -"must get food", it probably cannot compare to the stress marathoners put on themselves.
        - If it was cute and cuddly at some point, eat it. Ignore everything else. -

        - Food is first, and foremost, nothing more than fuel. -

        - The body is animal. The mind, however, is not. -


        • #5
          This topic just made me think of this video....


          • #6
            I personally feel that our ancestors persistence hunted, whilst some had more abundant food available without this hunting. It was geography and resources.

            But the problem now with long distant running today such as the marathon, people are running against the clock, to get their PB, at a pace higher than maybe they should be, hence chronic cardio. The ultra runners are probably running at a pace more in line with Grok's long distance speed, but this sport is too fringe.
            Give them nothing! But, take from them everything!


            • #7
              Originally posted by Primal1337 View Post
              Harvard's Anthropology Professor Daniel Lieberman that for over two million years, humans hunted not by shooting arrows or throwing spears but rather running the animal to exhaustion.
              1) The techniques of modern HG people, and presumably Paleo people, is quite varied. Persistence hunting is but one of them.

              2) Persistence hunters don't "run" animals to death in the sense of jogging, that would exhaust the human faster than it does the prey animal. As I mentioned in one of Mark's posts recently, I have an Austrian acquaintance that worked with Bushmen trackers for many years. Their cadence during pursuit teeters between walking and trotting depending on the maneuver, but mostly walking. Pursuing the animal with any greater speed would be pointless (and counterproductive) because its tracks are typically visible and the trackers know the terrain extremely well, the whole purpose being to simply nudge the animal away from known shade points. The popular video that gets cited so often is misleading because it only shows points of the pursuit punctuated by "action".


              • #8
                It also ignores that most hunts was based on driving the herd to a point of attack or over the cliff.


                • #9
                  Flushing is definitely the most efficient way of taking large prey in cooperative hunts, and it requires a certain level of cover to pull off, but that would be the normal scenario. The only mode of success for persistence hunting is in conditions that are exposed, hot and arid. All three conditions have to apply.


                  • #10
                    Persistence Hunting requires alot of running, yes, but that's not continuous running. It could be cardio considered for the modern homo sapiens, but for Grok it was just another day at hunting, intervals.... fast running alternating with resting...

                    Humans are taking turns in this persistence hunting and it's alot of tactics how to tire the animal down until it fells out of it's feet and it's a easy prey.

                    Bushmen in Africa are still doing this... read the book "Born to run" and the guy explains an episode of this thing.



                    • #11
                      A human being, moving relatively slowly compared to the animal persued, will wear down the animal with persistence. The animal will escape rapidly then need to rest. The persistent human never allows the animal to completely rest. Eventually, the animal cannot escape.
                      Tayatha om bekandze

                      Bekandze maha bekandze

                      Randza samu gate soha


                      • #12

                        The "Seven Deadly Sins"

                        Grains (wheat/rice/oats etc) . . . . . Dairy (milk/yogurt/butter/cheese etc) . . . . . Nightshades (peppers/tomato/eggplant etc)
                        Tubers (potato/arrowroot etc) . . . Modernly palatable (cashews/olives etc) . . . Refined foods (salt/sugars etc )
                        Legumes (soy/beans/peas etc)


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MichaelA View Post
                          Persistence Hunting requires alot of running, yes, but that's not continuous running. It could be cardio considered for the modern homo sapiens, but for Grok it was just another day at hunting, intervals.... fast running alternating with resting...

                          Humans are taking turns in this persistence hunting and it's alot of tactics how to tire the animal down until it fells out of it's feet and it's a easy prey.

                          Bushmen in Africa are still doing this... read the book "Born to run" and the guy explains an episode of this thing.

                          Yeah, I read that back. That's where I'm getting most of my facts from and from research on the internet.


                          • #14
                            Hello. I've been a bit of a lurker here for a while, but Tarlach's commments, linked from the other topic, have promted me to post because I believe he/she has seriously misread the evolution of the horse and in particular distance horses and a breakdown of it would be very useful to this discussion. I don't claim to be an expert in human evolution at all, but I do know horses as I have ridden and competed my entirely life, in both sprint events (galloping thoroughbreds .5 to 1.5 mile), medium distance events (galloping and jumping over 4 mile cross country courses) and am currently campaigning a quite sucessful 100 mile endurance horse. And sorry in advance, this is going to be long, but I feel several unfounded claims have been made about endurance horses. And since that thread is quite old, and was linked through this one, I'll put my answer with this topic.

                            Humans can run long distances today but we need to have water available. So we either have to carry the water, we have to have somebody supplying us water along the way. Paleo man did not have this luxury. How do you propose that he ran for 10's of miles without any water?
                            How would any other long distance animal do so either? Man is not at a disadvantage because all of his prey would likewise be burredened with looking for and using water whenever it comes up, not carrying water. An endurance horse has to drink at least every 10 miles, less in great humidity, otherwise they suffer metabloic crashes. However man can tolerate dydration to a greater degree than most other animals, and man, later on, could easy create water carrying containers with nothing more than an aminal stomach and some rope, meaning the lack of water is at his advantage, not disadvantage.

                            If we were meant to run long distances then we would have huge lungs like horses. They have big airways and huge bellows of lungs to maintain a good pace over long distances.
                            Yes, horses have huge lungs, but they have no advantage over long distances - they are purely a medium distance/sprint feature. One of the more interesting things about horses is they have the capacity, under great stress, to "blow" or expand their rib cages out to an extordinary degree to greatly increase their lung capacity. By your logic, this should occur over long distances, however this only occurs when the horse is moving at a 5 mile or shorter pace. Once a horse reaches about .5 mile in a gallop, he starts to blow and will take ultra-deep breaths, but this only occurs between .5 to 6 mile pulls at a gallop pace, never does a horse do this over long distances at any time in a trot or canter pace (in fact, having a horse blow and accually use it's lung capacity is a great way to get your horse immediately pulled from an endurance race and headed right over to a vet and have IV's stuck in it). When covering long distances, the pace is never great enough to require much more oxygen than what is available through a medium size set of lungs (there's a reason you breath harder at faster paces, that's when you need to extra oxygen even if you're not using energy aerobicly).
                            Furthermore, if you ask any endurance rider (you didn't ask, but I'll say it anyway), one of the top features to look for and that is present in the best distance horses is an extremely narrow barrel, or rib cage where the lungs are. The broad rib cages present in sprint horses, like thoroughbred racehorses, which lead to a massive lung capicity is completely useless and can in fact be dangerous in endurance horses. The thinner the lung area, the lower the accual oxygen capacity, but the greater the amount of surface area around the horse's core and therefore the more heat loss which can occur. Narrow bodies work like radiators and can disipate heat faster and are far, far more important in the distance athelete than lung capacity and in fact, the greater the amount of the first, the less of the second.

                            Humans are built much more like cheetahs. We are compact and lithe. Definitely evolved to run and maneuver over short distances.
                            Sorry, but being compact and lithe means nothing - wolves and coyotes are very compact and lithe and their definate forte is endurance, not sprints. Also, cheetahs aren't compact - they are narrow in width and short in height, but they have extremely long bodies, even compared to other cats, which allows them more room to swing their hindlegs forward and more power in their push off (also, note that their legs are short compared to their body length, nothing like humans).

                            It takes a years of training to run a marathon. It is not natural and we can't just do it from birth.
                            No animal can - again this means nothing. A distance horse requires at least six years of growing and four years of careful conditioning to cover great distances even at slow paces (consider also that horses reach maturity three times as quickly as humans).

                            Man is a pack animal. The strongest male always rules the pack and will get the largest share. Selective breeding would then favour bulk and not endurance. Man is a social animal who works by coperation, inteligence and loyalty to the group (paleo man used language of some form outside of beating each other up which you suggest). The strongest male means nothing for breeding as all recent discoveries (see Ardi) have shown that the ancestors to humans first evolved upright posture originally as a mating gesture, so that males could bring gifts to the females, with females making the choice based upon who was the best provider, not biggest brute. Before man would have ever began evolving the capability to run, he evolved the capablity to breed based entirely on domestic competition and resourcefullness, not physical competition which would favor larger males. Furthermore, no matter how much male genes favor bulk, female genes will always favor smaller, lighter, easier to carry and care for offspring, working in opposition of the male's.
                            Endurance is favoured by prey animals (as the fastest survive another day). Man is a hunter.Endurance is not at all favored in prey animals, think about it this way - if a prey animal and a predator face off in a sprint, what happens if the predator loses? He misses his first chance at the meal and can either 1. continue to pursue (favoring endurance) or 2. start looking for a different meal. And if the prey animal loses? Well, he's dead. There's no pressure at all to develop anything other than sprint ability in a prey animal because if he loses the first go, that's it and mammals' fast/slow twitch muscle configeration prevents both being greatly built at the same time. You just said it best - "the fastest survives another day," and the fastest animals are the sprinters, those who can reach a greater top speed quicker, not those who can maintain a medium speed. Many other predators, from weasals to wolves, have the ability to continue over long distances, far more than sprint ability (with the exception of the big cats, who rely mainly on stealth to minimize sprinting distance). On that note, zebras don't necessarily need endurance, at least not like what we're talking about, to get away from a lion - only the capablity to go 150 yards to the lion's 100 yard sprint, but their most important escape ability is the agility to dodge and weave to force the cat to change direction and use energy doing so. True endurance never comes into the picture outside of predators.

                            Man has also been using projectile weapons since being 'man'. Spears maybe a more recent invention, but the hand and arm is perfectly suited to throwing rocks. A much better hunting method than trying to runBut only effective for small animals and nowhere near as effective as throwing rocks while running at the same time to get closer to the target.

                            Children are unable to run for up to a year or two of age and then only run fast for short distances. This indicates that man evolved being more sedentary and was not constantly on the move.
                            Conversely, zebra foals can walk within an hour of birth and run long distances within a few weeks.
                            No, zebra foals are capable of walking and sprinting at nearly the same top speed as adults within a short period of time. They are incapable of covering any sort of significant distance at a pace greater than a slow walk broken up by grazing/nursing. One can simply watch wild horses or look at the training of endurance horses to prove this - prior to the horse's forth year, you should never, ever ask them to cover more than 5-6 miles at one time, even at a slow pace. By the forth year, you can ask for 10 miles and build it to 25 miles, this after two years of conditioning and training, but asking any earlier directly leads to premant bone and joint injuries, possibly crippling the horse completely before it has even matured. However, a horse must accually be given the chance to gallop and sprint at the ages of two to three. While riding a young horse is not recommended while galloping (although many thoroughbreds are raced very succesfully at two, and if not, all are at three), if a horse cannot gallop frequently on it's own, it loses bone density and is prone to impact injuries later in life. If the horse was born to go long distances, why would it be far more dangerous to do so before almost complete maturity while sprinting is accually required to ensure healthy bone structure?
                            As far as human children, I'll have to send my niece Abby over to you for a while and then you can determine a two year olds ability to run, especially at bath time - she's probley quicker than most rabbits and doesn't stop for any period of time.


                            • #15
                              I'm not saying we can't run. Just that we are not evolved for endurance running. The repetitive strain (and other) injuries that runners develop are testament to this.
                              From what I've read, and this might be wrong, but the strain injuries are almost all isolated to either 1. running with shoes, which destroys the natural stride and greatly increases the impact, or 2. due to extreme muscle imbalances, especially in the core and quads, which develops from sitting for great periods of time. I don't believe you could come to a conclusion that injuries are from running itself without studying the injury rate of those who stand most of the day and run barefoot or almost barefoot like our man Grok would have done (anyone know of any study that does?).

                              The human body is terribly inefficient for running long distances.
                              Having two legs means that whilst running there is an enormous amount wasted energy on muscle stabilization (just to keep us upright).
                              Not necessarily - what energy we use for stablization probley isn't greater and most likely less than the energy required for large muscle groups to move another set of limbs for a full rotation and push off with every stride.
                              Paleo man wasn't running road marathons in his Nike's. The ground was uneven and there was trip hazards. A broken leg probably meant death. Even a sprain would have left paleo man susceptible to attack if he was a runner and not a fighter. The chances of sprain injuries or broken legs would be far less over long distances at slower paces which allow you to really look and have time to choose your foot placement carefully. Now, over a sprint distance while ambushing prey, there would be no time to look as the ground would be coming up too fast and definately no time to change direction halfway through the stride when you notice a bad placement (to say nothing that tracking, and thus constantly looking at the ground, would be important for long distances, while keeping your eye on the target and away from the ground would be essiential for sprinting). You're right, any injury could be fatal, that would be why all out blasts on uneven ground should be avoided at all costs.
                              Man has always excelled at getting results from the least amount of effort. Before spears, man would have scavenged, ambushed, snared, trapped, overwhelmed, or surrounded prey.In the open savvanh, where persistance hunting has only been sugested to be used, it is very difficult to ambush, overwhelm or surround prey - depending on the enviroment, that might be to only way to get large, fresh prey. Also, the least amount of effort, collectively counted by a community, might at times be persistance hunting - it only requires intense effort from one or a small group of individuals (will come back to later).

                              I doubt very much that paleo man ran down anything. How would they then get the food back to camp? Try carrying 100lb and see how far you get.The same way special ops units in the military do it. Check out training of any of the special forces - they frequently must carry massive loads (something like 400-600 lbs.) 20+ miles as part of their training. With a few poles to rest the load on to distribute it between the team, they can go miles upon miles.

                              The animals that travel the furthest each day have wings or fins. Running is a horribly inefficient mode of travel.Unfortunately we had neither wings nor fins to begin with when genus homo went our seperate way from the apes and monkeys, therefore feet through the method of running would be our only option if evolution needed us to increse endurance. Furthermore, neither horses nor gazelles have wings or fins either, so we're on even footing with our prey in that department.
                              Man is horrible at running and most animals can initially outdistance us enough to be able to evade us (they have much better acceleration and maneuverability).
                              Absolutely most animals can beat us with acceleration and maneuverability (all short distance abilities), but I'm confused as to why you would say this, yet maintain that humans are like cheetahs and were meant to run and manuever over short distances?
                              Endurance hunting could only be possible in very limited circumstances. The animal needs to be of the right speed and stamina, must be isolated from their herd/pack, and the terrain must be ideal for man to keep track of the animal. Certainly not a regular occurrence and not something that would stay consistent over vast distances.A simple snare works much more effectively and takes very little effort. Much more likely than running food down. Ask any wildlife survival expert how to get food and the simple methods are always the best. Running tens of miles is not simple.Correct me if I'm wrong, but I've heard no one, in any study, claim that endurance running was the one and only way Paelo humans hunted. Also, a simple snare would give you nowhere near the amount of food needed for a large group of humans.