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The Human Body Is Built for Distance

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  • The Human Body Is Built for Distance



    More on Persistence Hunting, this time from the NYT
    [quote]

    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.</blockquote>



    “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” -Oscar Wilde
    "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." -George Bernard Shaw
    "The trouble with jogging is that the ice falls out of your glass." -Martin Mull

  • #2
    1



    SS, we hit this one last week. But what the heck.


    If all those bits of evidence are valid, why do humans suffer so much damage so often from long distance running? Why has most of humanity not found running so much fun, and something to avoid?


    Hmmmmmmm......

    Comment


    • #3
      1



      There are some very clever people supporting the idea that we evolved to chase prey to exhaustion, but as Mark clearly illustrates here, I think it still doesn&#39;t make that much sense.


      And many very clever people I know also love their "runner&#39;s high" and love to brag on how much they can run on a given day.


      Confirmation bias maybe?

      “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” -Oscar Wilde
      "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." -George Bernard Shaw
      "The trouble with jogging is that the ice falls out of your glass." -Martin Mull

      Comment


      • #4
        1



        I totally believe that human beings are built for long-distance .. walking.

        You lousy kids! Get off my savannah!

        Comment


        • #5
          1



          MODERN Humans suffer damage running because we spend most of our lifes from childhood on sitting down, wearing thick sneakers, moving very little, and exercising on hard and uniform surfaces.


          MODERN Humans also do not like running for many of these same reasons. And "liking" something is not a logically valid way to decide if something fits our evolutionary history. Most people "like" grains, and "like" to be sedentary, but that doesn&#39;t make these right.


          I also don&#39;t like Mark&#39;s post on this topic either. He basically presents two arguments 1) That glycogen stores prevent us from being natural runners, 2) That scavenging and other hunting strategies make more sense.


          He is making a mistake assuming that running is glucose intensive based upon his marathoning history. The 5-10 miles stated in the article isn&#39;t an all out or even a moderately effort if you watch some videos on persistence hunting.


          He is also neglecting the fact that early humans would do whatever was necessary to obtain food. If that meant chasing an animal for 10 miles I am sure that some would do it.


          So, Although I don&#39;t think humans are born to be marathoners (as in trying to run 2-3 hours at maximum effort). We do handle distance running better than most species, and it seems plausible that some endurance traits could have been evolutionarily selected for in certain environments.

          Comment


          • #6
            1



            I did agree on the previous thread that it seems reasonable early humans would often run 5-10 miles for whatever purpose. "Whatever purpose" could also mean persistence hunting as needed, whatever distance as needed. But I doubt our DNA self selected those traits as optimum.


            Another perspective is "Just because we can doesn&#39;t mean we should."


            I&#39;m not sure a highly trained, scientific diet modern man would be at a disadvantage to Grok.


            Jus&#39; saying....

            Comment


            • #7
              1



              I think there&#39;s a distinction to be made between modern "chronic cardio" marathoning (prolonged exertion at heart rates between 80-95% of maximum) and the "move slowly" zone (<75% max heart rate) that Mark recommends.


              I&#39;m a "recovering" marathoner and I can jog comfortably in my "move slowly" zone. Mark Allen could reportedly run at 5:00 minutes/mile in his zone. Most of us, don&#39;t have anywhere near his level of aerobic capacity, but, if I had to venture a guess, Grok - with his lifetime of aerobic activity -probably had as much or more aerobic fitness than Allen. He could probably have covered long distances really fast if he needed to or felt like it. (Of course whether he would ever have done it is something entirely different.)


              The authors of the article seem to suggest the same when they write

              Exercise early in life can affect the development of tendons and muscles, but many people don’t start running until adulthood, so their bodies may not be as well developed for distance. Running on only artificial surfaces and in high-tech shoes can change the biomechanics of running, increasing the risks of injury...Slower, easier training over a long period would most likely help; so would brief walk breaks, which mimic the behavior of the persistence hunter. And running on a variety of surfaces and in simpler shoes with less cushioning can restore natural running form.

              Note the emphasis on "[s]lower, easier training," walk breaks, minimal shoes, and natural surfaces. It doesn&#39;t seem like the author of this article is envisioning modern "chronic cardio" here. Perhaps, instead, Lieberman and Bramble should have concluded that: "several characteristics unique to humans suggested traveling rather long distances at relatively low heart rates played an important role in our evolution."


              ETA - I&#39;m not the only one here who can&#39;t stand BBcode, am I?

              Comment


              • #8
                1



                Ry I think the argument of thriving vs. surviving comes to play here. I am also convinced that humans did what ever it took to get meat when they had to, hence our tolerance to eventual endurance running.


                On the other hand, I think Mark&#39;s argument about scavenging tries to explain our transition as meat eaters through the early stages when we did not have weapons.


                Once humans learned to make weapons, I would see sprinting, setting traps, etc as much more cost-efficient ways to gather food, as opposed to:

                - The physiological damage that has to be repaired after the 10 mile run

                - the energy used in chasing the animal

                - the energy used in carrying the animal back to the camp (I am assuming that the animal would have been significantly sized in order to justify the effort of chasing it for so long)

                - The hunter would very likely need a constant supply of water while running for so long.


                This video promotes the persistence hunting hypothesis: http://tinyurl.com/ycndnws


                Take a look at the hunters, they look like crap.

                “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” -Oscar Wilde
                "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." -George Bernard Shaw
                "The trouble with jogging is that the ice falls out of your glass." -Martin Mull

                Comment


                • #9
                  1



                  Let&#39;s think about scavenging on the African savanna for a second: In order to scavenge meat, humans would need to be close enough to a kill to see it (or to see the circling birds that saw it) but not so close that they&#39;d either end up trampled by the fleeing prey or becoming the prey themselves. They&#39;d then need to get to the site of the kill quickly enough to beat the other scavengers and opportunists and get the meat back to a place of relative safety before anyone took it from them.


                  So I&#39;m thinking - bursts of intense activity over 2000-5000 m. could easily have been a regular part of Grok&#39;s life as a scavenger. There&#39;s a world of difference between a 5K and 26.2 miles, of course, but even 2000 m is too long to really sprint.


                  Also (and I admit to having no evidence on which to base this) it seems like weapons would have been an important part of a scavenger life. If Grok could have showed up at the kill with fire or weapons he&#39;d have a better chance of driving off competing scavengers as well as the primary hunter.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    1



                    Geoff interesting point about weapons/fire and having an advantage on scavenging. It makes a lot of sense.


                    However, the idea of competing scavengers can be used against the persistence-hunting theory as well. Picture yourself dragging a 200lb freshly killed animal for 10 miles back to the camp. I&#39;m sure it would be a very attractive sight for any big cat or hyena. I can&#39;t picture the exhausted hunter fighting for his prey against a hungry tiger.

                    “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” -Oscar Wilde
                    "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." -George Bernard Shaw
                    "The trouble with jogging is that the ice falls out of your glass." -Martin Mull

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      1



                      I mentioned once the the urdu killed in that video was no doubt brought back to the village via Land Rover.


                      Just the other day a small egret here had grabbed an anole (small lizard, there are thousands of here) and pretty soon two larger birds were chasing him, first on the ground and then flying in hopes of transferring his little snack.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        1



                        SS - I agree. If paleo man hit the wall right after he got the food, he&#39;d be done. There would need to be a substantial amount of gas left in the tank to make it home.


                        More idle thoughts - Taking a whole carcass back to camp might have been a good strategy when there was a group with weapons or fire, but before there were weapons or fire in the mix I&#39;m guessing that scavenging was a "drive through" situation. Grab what you can and go.


                        OtB - no doubt that urdu was taken back in the Land Rover. The Land Rover&#39;s probably also what kept the vultures and other scavengers at bay while the hunter performed his ceremony.

                        Comment


                        • #13
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                          "Cardio" causes heart disease, from Kurt Harris at PaleoNu:


                          http://www.paleonu.com/panu-weblog/2009/11/1/cardio-causes-heart-disease.html


                          Discussion of a study on marathon runners.

                          Comment


                          • #14
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                            Fascinating article. Guess all those heart attack victims didn&#39;t get the message that they were b...b...b...born to run.

                            Comment


                            • #15
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                              I hope the researchers take advantage of the incredible recent growth in ultramarathoning to evaluate how ultra runners fare in the health department.

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