This is the most common running myth of all.
You could say that your body is not made for swimming (I do) because that is true – we’re not fishes – but your body is actually designed to run – slowly!
Read Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run. It’s sold 3 million copies and is widely respected. In it he explains the pure enjoyment of running but he also explains why we are born to run. The Tarahumara tribe in Mexico exists the same way that we all did 30,000 years ago. This tribe has been cut off from civilisation and as a result McDougall was able to investigate how we used to survive. Ok so we have got a massive brain and that’s a start. It means we can organise, communicate and cooperate. But physically we’re not at the races, literally. We’re not very strong compared to many other animals. We’re not particularly aggressive and we are pathetically slow. A squirrel could kick Usain Bolt’s arse. So how did we hunt? With primitive weapons we couldn’t take down a 200kg beast armed with antlers or teeth. The way we killed our prey was simply to bore it to death. We had to separate a weak or injured beast from the herd (using our massive brains) and stalk and chase it to exhaustion. This would often require running for several days over hundreds of miles until the beast, deprived of water and food was simply too exhausted to escape. And then the young, strong bucks of the tribe could go in for the kill. But that’s no good if the women, children and elderly are 100 miles away because there’s no way to get fresh meat back to them. So they had to run too and keep up with the hunters. And they had to remain injury free. This is the only way we could survive and the way the Tarahumara tribe survives today. McDougall concludes that they remained injury free because they run in bare feet and that the reason we runners pick up injuries is because we wear padded and cushioned shoes. This is a moot proposition but the real message to take home is that we are designed for running. So the next time someone tells you his body is not designed for running or even worse that running is bad for you – correct him. We are born to run. If we couldn’t run long distances, then we wouldn’t have survived.
Another feature of this attribute is that we have fat reserves that are able to supply almost unlimited energy. Even someone as lean as Mo Farrah (probably about 6% body fat) has enough fat reserves to power his body for thousands of miles running – providing it’s slow running – aerobic or conversation pace. We are running machines – so no daft excuses please.