Sunday, July 22, 2012

Why this obsession with running marathons?

Why this obsession with running marathons? Natasha Fatah

Big butts

Unless a pack of wolves is chasing me, or there is a sale at Dairy Queen, there's no reason for me to run anywhere, let alone do a marathon.

But I'm having trouble keeping track of all my friends who have taken up this "sport" and, despite all my protestations and my logic, it turns out we human beings are designed to run. Long distances, in fact. And for reasonably long periods of time.

Our gluteus maximus is responsible for this. In other words, as studies have found, we have big butts that do relatively little work when we're walking on flat surfaces but they come in incredibly handy to propel us during running.

According to evolutionary biologist Daniel Lieberman at Harvard University, our huge bumpers give us the balance that other bipedal animals get from tails, and they also aid in making us superior runners.

Our ability to run apparently helped in our evolution as well because while there is no way we could beat one of the other great apes in a fight we could definitely outrun them.

We also had to run to catch some of the animals we wanted to eat.

Even though many animals, like dogs and cats, run faster than us, as the distances get longer we're actually able to catch up and beat some of the fastest creatures on the planet.

Add to this the configuration of our ear canals, which give us the incredible balance needed to run on two legs, and you see why we might make ideal marathoners.

Being relatively hairless also helps. It makes it easy to get rid of excess heat.


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