"I'm not built to run"

Surely we all are?

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14/08/2012 at 08:24

Sod that, what did Chris Boardman say............

14/08/2012 at 09:18
kittenkat wrote (see)

Is the human body en mass evolving to be less athletic and physical as we adapt to more sedentary surroundings than our ancestors?

Remind us, when women in our human history were supposed to run? I can't remember a moment when women might have been runners, since Egypt and Babylon, not sure about Asia but I guess there were not female runners too. It's just a modern fad.

14/08/2012 at 09:35

I think everyone is designed to run but some are just built better than others. Just like having children - some have it easy during childbirth due to their wide hips and others will struggle but they'll still do it.


Tommygun2    pirate
14/08/2012 at 09:42

I hear people say that to me all the time, normally because they are fat lazy people.

I guess if you go back to the more primative times I would have thought being able to run was a prerequist to survival. Thus the strong fittest survive and the gene pool is made up of people who can run. Human development has not changed very much over the last couple of thousand years.(to short a time span). What has changed is not the physiology of humans but the physcology. So in short all humans are made to run but most can't be arsed anymore.

This is all based on my A level biology I did some 30 years ago. So if anyone feels they can add a more precise theory please go ahead.

14/08/2012 at 09:51

I suppose we're all built for running shortish distances but to be a long distance runner your mechanical efficiency will come into play or you'll get injured over time, simple as. 

Even my podiatrist (a specialist sports podiatrist) will say that "Technically you're not build for running".  My feet are pan flat, I have a degree of pronation he's not seen before, and throw in hypermobility across all major joints.  I can run if I bother to spend small fortunes on orthotics etc and even then I get into trouble training for anything longer than a half.  Not everyone is built for running long distances injury free.  Yes you can drag your sorry butt through it and deal with the aftermath later, but why bother?  I got sick to the back teeth of forcing something only because everyone thinks you should be able to, all humans are designed to run ultras because we used to hunt bison bollocks blablabla.

And in future, with child obesity on the rise, even fewer people will be "built to run".  You now see small children so severely overweight that they have bone and joint deformities by the time they're ten which will quite frankly determine that they will never be running anywhere far.

I never quite understood the argument of everyone is built to run because neolithic man did.  That doesn't mean an awful lot today.

14/08/2012 at 10:07

The mere fact that we have mechanisms that control the speed at which our limbs move and, therefore, the speed at which we can move, is evidence enough that we are, in fact, all evolved to run.

Neolithic man was around only 12/13,000 years ago.  There's not been much evolution since then.

Tommygun2    pirate
14/08/2012 at 10:11

I don't agree, we are built to run, even if its only short distances. The argument made about bad feet and knee such like are more to do with the shoes we wear when young and the life style we lead. The  understanding on how to "fix" abnormalities is always being tested by new research.

I would say if you had pronation of any sort as a child but ran alot the body would natuarly adapt (Obviously not with surveer cases) Look at the Kenyans you will see all sorts of running styles that we would try and fix. But for them they have adapted because they have ran as children. Not taken up running half way through their lives.

In 300 hundred years time the human body will be the physiological when born as the last 300 years. It the life syle that make the changes, fat babies are not a result of genes but of poor care.

14/08/2012 at 10:18

Not a lot of fat Kenyans around last time I looked.

14/08/2012 at 10:29

It tends to be the study of modern hunter-gatherer societies living out in e.g. parts of Africa, Papua New Guinea etc, these kinds of places, that have formed the basis of the idea that the human body is adapted to 'move around' (not necessarily run) for approx. 8 miles a day in order to find food. This has been extrapolated back into the past, and when combined with the evidence from evolutionary biology, has lead to the theory that early man (and woman) were 'natural' runners, on the move for most of the day - they had to be to find dinner. (Now all we have to do is drive to Tesco* - *or some other supermarket). The evidence from human bone remains goes back many thousands of years - we are talking 10's of thousands here.

The Neolithic period (approx 5000 yrs ago) was when we started to settle down, live in one fixed location and become farmers - this was when the rot started to set in .

So you could say we are biologically capable of (or adapted to) moving around for 8 miles a day (the bone evidence suggests we were always more suited to being plodders than sprinters), but as someone has already said above, it is whether we choose to do it or not .

Kittenkat - 300 years wouldnt be enough to see an actual 'evolutionary' change - but IMO its more the other health factors that will play a part (increased obesity etc) that people have already posted.

14/08/2012 at 10:43

Tommygun are you honestly saying I have flat feet and pronate because I didn't run enough as a child??   I'm still from the generation where we spent all day outside.  I assure you I ran around heaps and often barefoot, so that's really not the issue. 

There is a 3 year old in my road who looks like she weighs three times what she should and already has severe tibia vara tibia vara  Her ability to run as an adult is already determined at an age when she can't even run yet!  Who's fault that is is a whole different debate, but it seems clear to me that she won't be running marathons only because her Neanderthal forefathers ran after prey.

14/08/2012 at 10:49

Nam - I sincerely hope her forefathers were not Neanderthals - that would mean you have found some kind of 'missing link' .

Well, there's always been big arguments between environmental and biological determinism, and I'm sure it will continue for years to come - but I think when you see a grossly obese toddler you have to say that is down to environment.

14/08/2012 at 10:54
Tigerspaw wrote (see)

The Neolithic period (approx 5000 yrs ago) was when we started to settle down, live in one fixed location and become farmers - this was when the rot started to set in .

I guess it's because our shelf life got longer and natural selection got overturned there's now more chance for rotting from the very start.

A fat toddler wouldn't have a chance to last for a dozen years back then. Now they last for 6 dozens on pills. What an epic win!

Edited: 14/08/2012 at 10:55
Tommygun2    pirate
14/08/2012 at 10:54

Not specifically you Nam and I guess some people do have feet problems from birth.

But the premises that some normal people(not people with malformed bodies or desiase) are not built to run is still false, as you say you ran around as a child.

I think the answer is some people have changed (life style or injury) so much they can't physically run.

So when people say they were not built to run they mean they can't run now.

I don't want to get into an argument about this so I'll leave it here

14/08/2012 at 10:54


Tigerspaw wrote (see)

Nam - I sincerely hope her forefathers were not Neanderthals - that would mean you have found some kind of 'missing link' .



Judging by the rest of the family she may well be. 


14/08/2012 at 10:57

How can physiological changes not have occured over rthe past few hundred years due to a more sedentary lifestyle when we know that physiological changes have happened to the female body in that short space of time due to interference from male Dr.s during childbirth.

It's quite easy to spot a desk dweller when you watch people walking down the street.

It's quite easy to work out who plays sports such as rugby / hockey, who swims, who runs, who is the gymnast.

3,000 years ago, survival of the fittest but today in this country just about anyone and everyone survives. I work with those who wouldn't have survived 3,000 or even 300 years ago. Non of them can run, some can't walk, those that can can't walk far, a lot of this is down to never having had to or been encouraged to but in part it's down to not having the physical capacity to. There's a line from these people to the Mo Farrahs with all of us at some point along it.

I disagree that bad feet / knees etc is a result of childhood footwear. I hardly who shoes as a child, just wasn't the done thing then and there. I have congenitally deformed feet, nothing to do with foot wear.

I can run, I do run. I've been told that I'm not biomechanically built for running so I'll never be up there with the top runners or even very close.

Our bodies adapt to the work that we give them to do, I find sitting on a chair physically painful, I haven't had to sit down much in my working life, I can stand and move around all day.

It's how we use our bodies in the here and now.

I wasn't built to be a model, I'm too short and too fat.

14/08/2012 at 11:15

I'm with Nam - we are not all built to run - well obviously just about everyone can run to some degree but there are big differences in our ability to go fast, sustain high mileage etc.   She mentions a kid with tibia vara - I think that's the same as tibial torsion (?) which if so I actually have though not severely - I wasn't fat as a kid, I was fairly active - I was just born with it.   

Thousands of years ago maybe I'd have died because I couldn't catch enough bison because I got injured if I tried to sustain over 50 miles a week ! 

14/08/2012 at 11:35

It will be millions of years before our limbs become an almost unnecessary part of the body like our appendix, but life style is heading a large number of people to an existence like the occupants of that space ship on the cartoon film Wall-E.

The other excuse almost everybody quotes is my knees won't allow me to run, I know lots of runners have knee problems but it must be an overquoted excuse to not bother to exercise.

14/08/2012 at 12:11

Ive been trying to get my mate to come out running for months now, he uses the same excuse. Although instead he says  " I'm a sprinter, i cant do distances" however he hasnt done an ounce of any sprinting for since ive known him  ( 8/9 years) lol

14/08/2012 at 14:27

Lol Nam - I think I might have met a few of those Neanderthals over the years too .

This is an interesting debate.

Also I dont think we should colour the past as some kind of 'Golden Era' - human nature being what it is, I am sure there would be a few people sitting around the camp fire 8000yrs ago, going 'But I'm too tired to go out hunting tommorrow, can't we just stay here?'

And, the activity people did in the distant past was not necessarily running, like flat out -  more akin to a run / walk / stalk the prey kind of thing. But certainly involving more movement than the vast majority of the population can or want to perform now.

14/08/2012 at 15:28

I would say that the adoption of the bipedal gait meant that we are primarily designed for walking rather than running.  A study found that human running was slower and less energy efficient than chimp knuckle walking, but walking was more energy efficient and thus gave early man an evolutionary advantage over the apes when foraging for food.  No-one claims they are 'not designed for walking', but many people have some form of bio-mechanical problem that means they find running uncomfortable.

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