The Definition of Running (Part 2 of 3)

If you haven’t read The Definition of Running (Part 1 of 3) – I recommend it before reading this post along with the others on my RunYourAge blog

Picking up from where we left off last time,beyond the skeleton changes and the changes to the muscles and tendons as a result of the skeletal changes, there are some interesting aspects of the feet specifically that make what we know as running possible. With so much obvious advancement of the human body, why is it that there remain so many different opinions of what running is and means? Our bodies have evolved into running machines. There is a wealth of modern evidence to support this, look at all of the different types of running and the different distances that we humans go. We have ultra-long distance endurance runners, running the distance of multiple marathons in a single go. We have people who never run or try to run further than a few miles. We have people that hate running entirely and can’t stand the thought of walking very far, let alone running.

We are clearly built in a way that enables us to run. There are many of us who take advantage of this evolutionary difference that we have. There are also many of us who choose not to take advantage of it or get injured or in pain when they try to. Why is it so difficult to understand what running is and if we humans are designed for it or not? Perhaps the more recent, in the last forty years or so, evolution of running as a sport and hobby that requires special cloths, equipment, and styles has some insights into our concept of what running is.

The running industry has developed rapidly in the last forty years to accommodate a perceived need to supplement our natural abilities to run. Companies like Nike, New Balance, Polar, Suunto, Brooks, Asics, etc. have all cropped up to sell runners special shoes, heart rate monitors, pedometers, wicking clothing, specialized socks, and watches. Not to be outmatched – the services in the industry are growing just as rapidly as the products have. Running styles like the POSE Method, the Chi Method, and the Newton Running Method have all been created to ‘teach’ everyone to run correctly. With so many supplements to just the motion of running, the definition of running has an opportunity to be even more unique for each individual. For example, keeping your heart rate at a particular level (now that we can measure it in real time on a run), keeping your pace at a particular intensity (now that we can measure pace in real time on a run), or if there are a particular number of steps per minute (as defined by the running style of choice). The running industry, after evolving in such a short time, has added a lot to our individual definitions of running. Despite all of these variances in definition and supplemental tools we use for running, running comes down to feet hitting the ground and moving the body forward. Understanding this motion and how it has evolved must be more important to the essential definition of running. .

Works Cited
Bramble, Dennis M. and Daniel E. Lieberman. “Endurance running and the evolution of Homo.” Nature (2004).
Goff, Stephen J. and Daniel S. Fick. “Training Levels and Perceived Benefits Of Running Among Runners Commited to Both Running and Family versus Runners Commited Exclusively to Running.” Journal of Sport Behavior (1997): 387-397.
Liebenberg, Louis. “The relevance of persistence hunting to human evolution.” Journal of Human Evolution (2008): 1156+.
Lieberman, Daniel E., et al. Biomechanics of Foot Strikes. n.d. <>.
Sellers, Irvin William, et al. “Evolutionary Robotic Approaches in Primate Gait Analysis .” International Journal of Primatology (2007): 321-338.

Comments (2)

  1. gait analysis equipment


    Thanks for explaining the definition of Running, great work……………………

  2. Pingback: The Definition of Running (Part 3 of 3) | Josh Maher

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