Are We Born To Run? Christopher McDougall Says Yes!

Christopher McDougall believes that running is what humans are meant to do

marathon runnersWhy do humans run? Is running what humans are evolved for? Christopher McDougall certainly thinks so.

In the TED Talk below, he talks about how Derartu Tulu won the New York marathon at the age of 37 after a long break from running and even stopped to aid Paula Radcliffe in the process. He also talks about the Mexican tribe that run to live.

The main topic is really about how running seems to be what humans are designed to do and that if more people ran, many health problems could be eliminated. Watch his talk below.

Humans Sweat – This Makes Us Better Runners

One interesting factor is that humans are excelled sweaters. This makes us naturally excellent long distance runners as we can control core body temperature very well.


Also running in a pack is possibly a very natural way to run. When people run in a pack they naturally stick together, cooperate and encourage each other. Christopher McDougall uses this idea to explain why the Ethiopian runner Derartu Tulu stopped to help another runner in a competition race, a race that she was actually running as she desperately needed the cash prize.

Running Shoes Work Against Nature?

Running injuries are a new problem. Christopher McDougall believes that barefoot running is the answer. He strongly believes that if we can somehow restore running to everyone’s lives then many weight problems will be overcome. Christopher McDougall is a barefoot runner, and distance runner, and firmly believes that this is how humans should exercise.

Christopher McDougall Talk from TED.com (16 minutes)

This is a really insightful talk about running. Many people are critical of running as a way of getting fit, believing it to cause long-term damage to joints and cause arthritis. However, humans seems to be designed to run. Or to be more precise, we evolved to run.

We did not take the same evolutionary route as the other great apes who continued to dwell in forests, we ventured out on to the open plains where it was vital to be able to cover large distances to find food and water.

One interesting question which sometimes comes up concerns running and children. Many people feel that running is something which should be avoided until we get older, become teenagers. However, there are many children who run long distances from an early age.

There is an interesting article by William O. Roberts in the Running Times which tells the story of a father and son who ran together. Although the father did not think that his 10-year-old son was ready for longer distances, the boy trained by him self by running around the block where they lived. He did 56 laps of the block which equalled 26 miles, and then informed his dad that he was ready to run a marathon.

They then ran the marathon together and finished together in the 4-5 hour range. At the request of race organisers the boy had to visit the medical tent but was found to be perfectly well, in fact he looked better than most adults.

“To date, none of the under 18 entrants have required care in the medical tent at the marathon finish line.” William O. Roberts, MD.

William Roberts points out that there is no evidence to suggest that running is bad of health.

Considering we are faced with a continuing obesity epidemic with more children become less active and more overweight, it cannot be right to discourage children or adults from running long distances if they want to, especially as it may be the most natural way to exercise and stay healthy.

William Roberts goes on in his article to make some suggestions for children and adolescents and the creation of rules for participating in long distance races. His main concerns are not so much the race themselves but the level of training that a child needs to do to prepare themselves for a race.

“Races that do allow children and adolescents to enter should consider tracking them for injury and well-being. If we, as a running community, can monitor the activity, we may be able to develop evidence based recommendations that reflect data and not supposition.” William O. Roberts, MD.

What do you think is most natural, running long distances of playing football?

More like this in the Fitness section

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *