The author of Born To Run. He looks as godawful as you'd expect.
For those of you who've read Born To Run, you'd think after reading the book that humans may well have been adapted to run long distances, given the fact that the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico regularly run exceedingly long distances as a matter of course. According to a variety of sources, the Tarahumera do run exceedingly long distances every day. According to one source, "it's not uncommon for a Tarahumara to travel between fifty and eighty miles a day at a 'race' like pace."(Bearegard) That's not due to any genetic predisposition, however, or because they necessarily enjoy it- it's because they have to. The terrain where the Tarahumera live sucks fucking ass- it's all rocks and dirt, too rugged for horses and impossible for a wagon to traverse. Throw on top of that that the Tarahumara are semi-nomadic pacifists who live in caves most of the time and are practically vegetarian (their diet is 10% protein, 10% fats, and 80% complex carbs)(Beauregard), and you've got a recipe for a bunch of people I've no interest in emulating. As for their alleged "persistence hunting", it's a ploy to draw attention to the fact that their lives suck. Due to their pacifist leanings, they've gotten pushed into progressively worse territory over the years, and now have their little mountainous shithole threatened by drug dealers, who are popping caps in the scrawny little Tarahumara scampering around so they prevent any drug interdictions by the Indians. Because they run well, they're used by vegetarians and idiot jogging anthropologists to show that it's technically possible to run an animal to death.
Apparently, they think they're Palestinians.
The Tarahumara, however, kill small animals by pegging them with rocks, and generally eat livestock for their meager protein allowance. Given that these filthy (and they're noted for being exceedingly dirty little fuckers) cave-dwelling assholes fish with fucking dynamite, I highly doubt they've got the attention span to run an animal to death as a matter of course- they do it so Westerners give them money and pity. How anyone can pity people who fish with dynamite is a mystery I'll never solve- they fuck up the ecosystem beyond repair out of sheer laziness and I'm supposed to feel badly for them? What's next? Pitying homeless arsonists who burn down grocery stores so they can cook the meat inside?
Interestingly, the diet of the Tarhumara is remarkably similar to that of another group of half starved distance running goofballs from a third world shithole- the Kalenjin of Kenya. Both groups eat a maize-based diet that's extremely high in carbohydrates and low in everything else, and they both run constantly due to their lack of other modes of transport. Due to the combination of these factors, both groups are exceedingly thin, which confers a metabolic advantage in running long distances. The "thinner calves of Kenyans have, on average, 400 grams less flesh in each lower leg. The farther a weight is from the center of gravity, the more energy it takes to move it. Fifty grams added to the ankle will increase oxygen consumption by 1%, Saltin's team calculates. For the Kenyans, that translates into an 8% energy savings to run a kilometer."(Holden) According to scientists, who seem to study third world distance running societies more than any other group of people on Earth, these adaptations are mostly ontogenic, rather than genetic. Thus, it's the fact that they're starved unto childlike proportions and then run ragged every day of their lives that confers the ability to never win an Olympic gold medal in the marathon but get a shitload of publicity for jogging. Oh, you didn't know that? No Kalenjin or Tarahumara has ever won an Olympic gold in the marathon. Sure, Kalenjin males hold records in the race, but as far as the Olympics go, they're getting shelled. As such, all it appears to take to learn to run long distances well is a capacity to endure boredom and a willingness to be weak as shit and appear though you might be dying. Does that mean that we're naturally predisposed to it? Only if it means you have to weigh less than a middle-schooler and be incapable of defending yourself from either the common cold or any irascible party weighing more than 60 kg.
Were we naturally predisposed to it, I highly doubt that Buddhist monks would use distance running as a path to enlightenment. Given their propensity for depriving themselves of even the basic necessities like food, water, and sex in order to achieve enlightenment, it's highly unlikely they'd engage in a practice to which humans are naturally predisposed in order to get to Nirvana... and yet, they do. The "Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei" engage in a particularly ridiculous practice of kaihogyo, which means "practice of circling the mountains." It involves a 100 day term of running in which the participant must either hang themselves or commit seppuku if they cannot complete the course of nonstop running.
The rules of kaihogyo are fairly simple:
During the run the robe and hat may not be removed.
No deviation from the appointed course.
No stopping for rest of refreshment.
All required services, prayers, and chants must be correctly performed.
No smoking of drinking.
Even their hats suck.
The participant "gyoja" "gyoja begins at midnight. They are given a small meal and around 1:30, they start the running of 40 kilometers each day. There are many stations that they must stop by often. They are able to sit only once during the entire course.
They return to Hiei between about 7 and 9am where they attend a service, bathe, and eat a midday meal. During the afternoon, they attend more services, rest for an hour and attend to chores. They go to bed around 8 or 9pm and the day begins again at midnight. This is repeated 100 times to finish the first term.
Some time in this term, they must perform the kirimawari, which is a 54- kilometer run. A senior marathon monk accompanies the gyoja on this. To accomplish this, they usually lose a whole day of sleep but must just keep right on with their 100-day schedule.
These 100 days are very difficult. Their feet and legs begin to throb and often get cuts and infections. Being so cold in Japan, they often get frostbite and very sick during the first weeks of the run. They also experience many problems such an pains in their back and hips, diarrhea and hemorrhoids. By the 70th day, the gyoja has finally “acquired the marathon monk stride: eyes focused about 100 feet ahead while moving along is a steady rhythm, keeping the head level, the shoulders relaxed, the back straight, and the nose and navel aligned.
If the gyoja successfully completes the 100-day term, he can petition to try the 1000-day term. This term will take seven years to complete.
I have no words for this nonsense.
The first 300 days of this are basic training days where they continue to run for 40 kilometers per day. In the 4th and 5th year, the pace quickens where they run for 200 executive days. After accomplishing this, they are allowed to use a walking stick and where a special tabi hat.
After completing the 700th day, the gyoja faces their most difficult feat. They must survive nine days without food, water, sleep, or rest. This period of time is called the doiri. Several weeks before hand, they prepare for this event by limiting themselves to small amounts of food so they will be ready when the time comes. When the doiri period begins, they spend their days reciting chants that they repeat 100,000 times. By the fifth day, they are dehydrated and are allowed to rinse their mouths with water but must spit out every last drop that enters their mouth. They usually go outside and take in the fresh mountain air where they are able to absorb moisture from the rain and dew through their skin. Usually what the gyoja finds most difficult is not the lack of food and water, but keeping awake and keeping the proper posture at all times of the day.
The doiri is purposely made to let the gyoja face death. After this period of time, they have come so close to death that they develop a sensitivity to life. They "can hear ashes fall form incense sticks, smell and identify foods from miles away and see the sun and moonlight seep into the interior of the temple." Psychologists who examined the bodies at the end of the seven day period found that the gyojas had many symptoms of a dead person. The gyoja are now able to experience a feeling of transparency. Everything exits their bodies-good, bad, and neutral."(Schmid)
The mad monk of powerlifting's not fucking running anywhere.
Doesn't sound fucking natural to me- it sounds like they're essentially doing the opposite of natural- they're flirting with death by running long distances. Again, these monks eat a diet nearly bereft of protein (they're vegetarians), are half-starved, and weigh next to nothing.
Paula Radcliff. World record holder in the marathon, looking healthy. For a death camp survivor, at least.
In short, distance running is a big bag of bullshit done by anorexic people and people so fucking shiftless and stupid that they fish with dynamite. This is not what humans are designed to do. Up next- how to train if you actually want to develop cardiovascular fitness while maintaining whatever strength you have
Beauregard, Art. Running Feet. Lehigh University. 12/1996. http://www.lehigh.edu/~dmd1/art.html
Holden, Constance. Peering Under the Hood of Africa's Runners. Science AAAS. 7/30/04. http://www.jonentine.com/reviews/AAAS_peeringUnderTheHood.htm