Running & Fitness


Why we run

Posted on

No seriously, why?!

Where the author explores our need to run and scores cheap points off of the Aussies

As a human, and I don’t think it too much of a brag to call myself that, I am built for running and not just running but running long distances. In fact we all are. It is the reason we stand on two legs and the reason why Neanderthal man died out - well outside of Australia anyway.

By taking to standing up and running humans took over the world and rose to the top of the food chain – well outside Australia anyway, everything in Australia including the weather, flora and fauna and drunk BBQ cooking are designed to kill humans.

As we developed the skills to hunt using our ability to run slowly but steadily for huge lengths of time, Neanderthal Man looked on from the sidelines, hunched over his rock. No doubt as a startled gazelle shot past followed by a group of tribesmen he would have grunted something about “fat arses” much to the amusement of his mates and so setting a scene destined to be repeated for ever more.

So when I say to you that you are built for running and you look at the reflection in the mirror and question if that is true, trust me, you are. (Unless of course your reflection is on all fours, has an incredibly large jaw and is smashing flints together for jollies. In which case don’t you have Queensland to govern or something?) I’m kidding, Australians are some of my favourite people

Quite when the first African hunter stopped his fellow tribesman from setting off in pursuit of their prey, stuck his arm in the air with the words “Hold up lads, not yet I can’t get a signal” is not recorded but at some point in time running became a leisure pursuit rather than a means of basic survival, something deep within us has compelled us on to keep running long after it became an essential part of our lives.

Nike, the sporting global behemoth not the Greek goddess of victory, even coined a phrase for recreational running, or more importantly the range of clothes they made to cash in on the phenomenon; ”Joggingwear”.

Unless you are a professional paid athlete with endorsements sticking out of your back pocket and a worse drug habit than a City trader you are, thanks to Nike, by definition you are a jogger.

Anyhoo I digress. So jogging, running, call it what you will is actually a basic impulse still floating around inside us, it is wired into our mainframes and comes as naturally to all of us as stumbling off of the last step of a broken escalator or calling out “Sack the juggler” when a glass breaks in a pub. My dog, let’s call him “Mac” as that’s his name and he can’t read to take offence, is a Lurcher. For those of you that don’t know Lurcher’s look like Greyhounds that have left the Greyhound army and put on a few pounds and let their hair grow. Lurcher’s are the singly laziest dogs you will ever meet, which to their owners can be a blessing as they are right royal pains in the arse when they are awake. A Lurcher will sleep for 23 hours of the day as standard but for one hour a day something stirs and they will become antsy and pace the floor, prowling and giving the front door meaningful looks. Now here’s the thing, the minute that that dog sets one paw out of the front door he has only one ambition – TO RUUUUUUUUN!

It is the only thing on his mind, as we wait to cross the road to the field he is poised like a runner in his blocks, then BOOM he’s off. Going nowhere in particular but getting there at breakneck speed.

Then a minute later he stops.

He turns around and pads back past you, out of the gate and waits to be taken home. Done. All over. “I have 23 hours of sleep to be getting on with thankyou very much”.

My point is this, this dog, and centuries of ancestors before him were bred to run at high speed, it’s their reason for being. Yet despite the fact Mac’s idea of hunting is catching a grape that’s given to him or trying to sneak a peek inside an open fridge door as he passes, and despite that everything he needs comes to him something deep inside takes over compelling him to run and my theory is humans are no different, it is just some are better than others of ignoring the siren call.

So if you are already a runner you will know all about that inner need to run; the itchy feet, the sulking when you can’t run. If you are new to running and find yourself thinking “Why am I doing this?” yet cannot stop then rest assured it is perfectly natural and you have a distant relative to blame, because the moment they thought “Hmmmm fried grass and fruit again, God I could murder a steak” and started chasing anything that moves (and we all have a relative like that, don’t we Uncle Eddie) your fate was sealed. It is an instinct borne out of centuries of necessity and what we were bred to do. So the next time you are panting up a hill muttering profanaties or ploughing through a downpour because your plan has you down for a run, it isn’t your fault it was those first Homo Erectus who are to blame for making you want to run.

Unless of course you run because you looked in the mirror and thought “My bum is huge, I need to exercise” in which case it is all the fault of those first body shaming Neanderthals and they died out so screw them.

So here’s my marketing motto: Runners; beating extinction for 500,000 years.


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