June Reading

You teach your clients to lift a barbell, to swing on the rings, to walk on their hands. These movement patterns are learned. Many times Coaches will discuss Running with the same ideas in mind of teaching, training, improvement, etc. However, you will teach your client how to lift a barbell, but you won’t teach them how to run. They are born to run. That is a massive difference.

The purpose of this month’s Coaches Mailing List is to enlighten readers of the deep evolutionary history which the running gait rests upon. The structure of your body, the size and location of the organs, the distribution of muscle tissue, the hair on your head, and the proclivity for endurance are to varying degrees shaped by how we evolved for locomotion.

“Darwin also reasoned that our bipedality was perhaps the initial event that set us on a different evolutionary course from our closest ancestors…In Darwins assessment of the uniqueness of man, he noted the freeing of the hands as a key difference but more importantly the ability to stand and be bipedal have to have been a distinctive advantage. The critical consideration is how we took advantage of this uniqueness and what factors conspire to assist us.” (Marino, 2019)

What are some of the evolutionary advantages of bipedality for hominin (i.e. running)? Why did we evolve to move this way?

1 – Economy – “knuckle walking is more energetically costly compared to bipedal locomotion by almost 75%” (Marino, 2019)

2 – Energy Needs – “The fact it did (Brain size increased in hominins) would have escalated the energy needs since larger brains consume up to 25% of the metabolic demand of adults. Thus, if the food stuffs usually available in the forest were not available in the savanna, and there were higher energy needs for the upright posture and bipedal locomotion, the next major source of high energy food would have been animal tissue…” (Marino, 2019)

3 – Heat Dissipation – “The open savannah presents a problem of exposure to radiation from the sun. That is, the surface area in which the radiation contacts is greatly reduced with the upright posture compared to knuckle walking or quadruped locomotion, where significant surface area would be exposed“ (Marino, 2019)

4 – Hunting – “Man could not have attained the present dominant position in the world without the use of his hands, which are so admirably adapted to act in obedience to his will… but the hands and arms could hardly have become perfect enough to have manufactured weapons, or to have hurled stones in spirit with a true aim, as long as they were habitual use for locomotion and for supporting the whole weight of the body…” (Darwin, 1872)

The following articles and recommend reading will help shed light on why we run the way we do. Once you have absorbed this knowledge, it will help you to more effectively coach your clients.

Recommended Order Of Reading:

1 – The Uniqueness Of Human Running: The Integration Of Modern and Ancient Evolutionary Innovations

2 – The Robust Running Ape: Unraveling The Deep Underpinnings of Co-ordinated Running Proficiency

3 – Smoothness: An Unexplored Window Into Co-ordinated Running Proficiency

Further Reading:

Human Fatigue: Evolution, Health and Performance


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