I know the book is titled “Born to Run” but I didn’t realize until right around the end of the book that they were serious, that we were as a species designed to run. Not just here and there, but for incredibly long distances. There are two parts of the book that were particularly thought provoking:
“‘Just look at the architecture,” Hartmann explained. Blueprint your feet, and you’ll find a marvel that engineers have been trying to match for centuries. Your foot’s centerpiece is the arch, the greatest weight-bearing design ever created. The beauty of an arch is the way it gets stronger under stress; the harder you push down, the tighter its parts mesh. No stonemason worth his trowel would ever stick a support under an arch; push up from underneath, and you weaken the whole structure. Buttressing the foot’s arch from all sides is a high-tensile web of twenty-six bones, thirty three joints, twelve rubbery tendons, and eighteen muscles, all stretching and flexing like an earthquake-resistance suspension bridge.”
So really, we aren’t supposed to wear shoes, and the reason people have so many feet issues is because our feet have gotten weakened from wearing them. It’s kind of crazy, but that analogy to the arch made so much sense and is probably the only explanation I’m going to need again. I’ve been running in Vibrams which are pretty much the same as running barefoot, and yes, my feet did hurt the first couple weeks (and still do on occasion). But I suppose that has to do more with retraining your feet and using muscles in your feet that have started to atrophy since they never really get used anymore. One more…
“‘We monitored the results of the 2004 New York City Marathon and compared finishing times by age. What we found is that starting at age nineteen, runners get faster every year until they hit their peak at twenty-seven. After twenty-seven, they start to decline. So here’s the question–how old are you when you’re back to running the same speed you did at nineteen?’…’It’s sixty-four.’…
‘That’s a forty-five year difference. You’re saying teenager can’t beat guys three times their age?’
‘Isn’t that amazing?’ Bramble agreed. ‘Name any other field of athletic endeavor where sixty-four-year-olds are competing with nineteen-year-olds. Swimming? Boxing? Not even close. There’s something really weird about us humans; we’re not only really good at endurance running, we’re really good at it for a remarkably long time. We’re a machine built to run–and the machine never wears out.’
‘And it’s true for both genders,’ Dr. Bramble continued…
‘Women have really been underrated,’ Dr. Bramble said. ‘They’ve been evolutionarily shortchanged. We perpetuate this notion that they were sitting around waiting for the men to come back with food, but there’s no reason why women couldn’t be part of the hunting party.’ Actually, it would be weird if women weren’t hunting alongside the men, since they’re the ones who really need the meat.
So I have another 4 years to reach my peak running speed and then until I’m 64 before my speed declines back to the speed I was at when I was 19? PLUS, there’s no real gender difference? I can run as far as my male counterparts? Still have kids and keep running (that explanation was continued on the page)? Well shoot, I need to whip my butt into shape! No excuses!
“You don’t stop running because you get old, you get old because you stop running.”