Ethiopian author Abe Gubegna wrote in 1974, "Every day in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows that it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn't matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better be running."
While philosophers and business leaders have been analyzing and trying to figure out the profound meaning behind Gubegna’s words and its relevance today, what everyone has forgotten to do is what we are naturally born to do – run. Yes! Human beings are born to run. Researchers have found enough evidence that the human body has evolved over millions of years and optimized for running. Our ancestors had to run for food and shelter and perhaps more importantly, run from danger. Long before humans developed weapons, they hunted animals by running them to death. Even today, some tribes in the Kalahari Desert hunt animals such as deer and kudu by chasing them (see video). If humans are born to run, why are they not running?
Like any other skill, running needs practice. Every child intuitively knows how to run; however, somewhere along the line of growing up we stop running because of the changes in our life style. We became lazy by watching too much TV and playing video games. We started eating too much fast food and became a nation of obese people. Today an estimated 100 million people in the US are obese. Consider the fact that the most commonly purchased woman's dress size in the United States was a size 14 in 2006. In 1985 it was size 8. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, during the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States. In 2008, only one state had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%. Six states had a prevalence of obesity equal to or greater than 30%. Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Our health care costs can be significantly lower if we reduce obesity and related diseases.
In addition to poor eating habits, shoes also play a major factor. Selling shoes is a multibillion dollar business. Major shoe companies promote stylish shoes which actually cause more damage by changing our natural running posture leading to plantar fasciitis, shin splints, Achilles tendinitis, knee pain, back pain, shoulder stress, etc. Ironically running injuries have been on the rise since running shoes were introduced by Nike in the ‘60s.
June 2nd is National Running Day. Running doesn’t require expensive membership in gyms or specialized gear. It is free. According to the Runningday website, "Running is an incredibly healthy, easy, and accessible form of exercise. Whether it’s five minutes, 15 minutes, or 45 minutes, every little bit of time spent running makes a difference in the goal to live healthy, happy, and heart strong."
Learn to run biomechanically correct. If you need help, pick up a book such as “Chi Running” by Danny Dreyer which teaches how to run pain free for life. For inspiration, read the book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall.
Health is wealth. When the sun comes up tomorrow, you better be running for a healthy life.