09 December 2012

Run And You'll Only Die Tired, The Logic Part 2

I realize that for most of you, this issue was laid to rest a year ago, as it should have been.  Runners, however, are a wilfully ignorant, backwards bunch, and things like science and anthropology mean about as much to them as they do to the average Midwestern "Christian".  As such, I decided to give you a little more ammunition for the interminable arguments in which you're likely to at some point find yourself engaged with a runner by providing you with a little mathematical backup.  Then, as I love research as much as North Korea's dictators love bad haircuts, Disney, and missiles, I decided to drop a bit more knowledge for you in regards to the hunting methods employed in the paleolithic era.  If you'd like a refresher on the subject, please enjoy the following ridiculously heavily researched (yet still accused of being "broscience", ostensibly because I'm mean to testosterone-deficient runners):

Part 1: The Logic
Part 2: Evidence
Part 3: More Evidence
Part 4: Even More Evidence
Part 5: The Science

Going for the knockout blow.

Here's how persistence hunts go down:  a group of men run after a small animal for an extended period of time.  Rather than use tools, to which hominids have had access for at least two million years, the animal is just run down until it drops dead from exhaustion.  When this is done (extraordinarily infrequently) in the modern era, it's generally done as a ceremonial exercise by tribal Africans, who will chase a deerlike animal for two to five hours over a half marathon or marathon distance, as a general rule.  The temperature at the time of the hunt is over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (really fucking hot to those of you who utilize centigrade measurements), which they utilize to hasten the beleaguered creature's demise in the hunt.  These hunts, as you can well imagine, are generally unsuccessful, and even elite athletes with experience conducting these retarded hunts cannot come close to accomplishing such a ridiculous goal.  One such effort was led by elite Kenyan marathoner Andrew Musuva, who's apparently killed a kudu with a softball-sized rock before.  They clocked a 4 minute mile at one point in their day-long chase and never even got fucking close to the pronghorn they were pusuing- instead, the thing mocked them from afar like they were Wile E. Coyote's close personal friends and it was a wildly oversized blue roadrunner.

This picture is a nice allegory for the above story-  the kudu would be the faceless man, and the hunters would be the broad getting fucked hard.

If you're incredulous that humans that had access to a bevy of tools in the last couple of million years would have utilized such a ridiculous method, you're not alone.  On it's face, the persistence hunting method seems wildly inefficient as a method to obtaining calories, so I decided to run some numbers to confirm this.  The following is a fairly quick breakdown of what I calculated as caloric expenditure from the hunt and the calories that would have been obtained with this method.  I assumed, by the length of the hunt and the distance traveled in the sources I found on the subject that the hunters would be running between 5.5 and 13 miles an hour, which corresponds to about a 11 minute mile (barely faster than a walk) and a 4 and a half minute mile (basically, a sprint).  Then, I assumed the average weight of our hunters to be 150 lb based on an anthropological estimate of paleolithic Europeans (Hermanussen).  Though I realize that my scientifically based estimates aren't exactly perfect, they're certainly far better than the scanty evidence on which runners base their nearly religious belief that humans of the recent past were nearly criminally stupid when it came to hunting.

Interestingly, there was no mention in the sources I found about women participating in persistence hunts, but non-retarded sources show that women participated heavily in hunts of big game, as the paleolithic era was pretty progressive in terms of gender equality.  Hopefully, this will inspire the hotties at Lift Big Eat Big to chase down and hang a beating on a runner, misogynistic fucks that they are, this week as a WOD.

Caloric expenditures during running for a 150 lb man (assuming they're carrying nothing whatsoever):
2 hours at 8mph= 1890 kcals burned
5 hours at 5mph= 2715kcals

Our allegedly mildly retarded ancestors reported utilized this method to pursue hooved creatures, as a genral rule, utilizing their superior long-distance speed to run down animals designed for sprinting.  Thus, they would have hunted a creature like a deer, kudu, or antelope.  In Kenya, male tribesmen hunt kudu utilizing this method for certain ceremonies, and male kudu weigh an average of 500 lbs.  Clearly, a bunch of skinny dudes who just ran a marathon probably aren't going to have much left in the tank to haul the fruits of their ridiculousness home to the ball and chain.  Thus, they'd butcher the animal and return with the edible parts.  With cattle, a 400kg liveweight animal will yield about 140kg of edible meat.  Using that as a basis for calculating edible meat, I determined that the aforementioned average kudu will yield about 175 lbs of meat.

Dean Karnazes is about the only distance runner on Earth I'd pit against one of these animals.

Carrying the food back, a group of five men would have 35 lbs per person.  Walking with hand and ankle weights at 4 miles an hour is akin to running at 5 miles per hour, so the caloric expenditure for carrying 35 lbs would be significant.  In fact, "Gross energy cost per mile during weighted walking (120-158 kcal/mile) was comparable to and in some cases exceeded that of running which was independent of speed (120-130 kcal/mile)"(Miller), which means that they'd expend much more in the way of calories on the return than the run itself.  According to a study by army scientists, the energy cost of load carriage for a 15 kg load would be about 225 calories per hour.  Walking 20 miles at 4 miles and hour would burn 2003 calories, plus the 1125 calories from the additional weight, bringing the return trip to 3125 calories.  Thus, you're looking at an expenditure of 5000 to 6000 calories per person, at a minimum.  Given the number of predator animals capable of taking the meat from small, comparatively weak humans, one would think that they would return more quickly than 4 miles per hour, meaning their caloric expenditure would likely rise another 1000 calories per person as they evaded wolves, lions, and other predatory creatures.

Apparently, anthropologists failed to mention to joggers that hyenas are pretty fond of kudu meat.

This means that a hunt consisting of five runners would require at least 25,000 calories to complete, and likely more along the lines of 30,000 calories.  For obvious reasons, the USDA does not track caloric information on kudu, but it does on a close relative of the kudu, the deer.  175 lbs of raw deer meat will yield 95256 calories.  This means that in a best case scenario, one quarter to one third of the calories acquired by this method of hunting would be expended in the hunt itself.  Based on the available data on persistence hunts, only 50% of them are successful (Liebenberg), which means that one half to two thirds of the calories obtained by persistence hunting would be consumed in their acquisition.  Due to the fact that one half to one third of the total calories obtained in this asinine form of hunting would be utilized obtaining the meat, it would stand to reason that this method of hunting could not have been the predominant method of hunting in the last 2 million years, or humanity would have fucking starved to death long ago.

Persistence Hunting Wrapup
Remarkably inefficient?  Yes.  
Stupid?  Yes.  
Preposterous?  Yes.

In case all of the maths and anthropology has bored you, 'ere's some tits.

Bethea, Charles.  Fair Chase.  Outdoor Magazine.  19 Apr 2011.  Web.  4 Dec 2012.  http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/nature/Fair-Chase.html?page=1

Hermanussen M.  Stature of early Europeans.  Hormones (Athens). 2003 Jul-Sep;2(3):175-8.

Knapik J, Reynolds K.  Loads carried by soldiers: historical, physiological, biomechanical and medical aspects.  ARMY RESEARCH INST OF ENVIRONMENTAL MEDICINE NATICK MA.  Jun 1989.  http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA212050    

Liebenberg L.  Liebenberg L.  Persistence hunting by modern hunter-gatherers.  Current Anthropology  2006;47(6):1017-25.  http://www.mattmetzgar.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/08/persistence_hunting.pdf

Miller, JF, Stamford BA.  Intensity and energy cost of weighted walking vs. running for men and women.  J Appl Physiol. 1987 Apr;62(4):1497-501.

Nutrient data for 17164, Game meat, deer, raw.  Nutrient Data Library.  USDA.  Web.  4 Dec 2012.  http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/5133?fg=&man=&lfacet=&count=&max=&qlookup=&offset=&sort=&format=Abridged&_action_show=Apply+Changes&Qv=1&Q9353=1.0&Q9354=175

Scahill, Darren.  Food Science/cow weight/cow meat ratio.  AllExperrts.  12 Nov 2003.  Web.  4 Dec 2012.  http://en.allexperts.com/q/Food-Science-1425/cow-weight-cow-meat.htm


  1. Don't forget that not everyone is going to be involved in every hunt. If those 5 hunters want to feed 5 kids and maybe another couple family members, there goes the whole batch of calories...say 50000 calories required for the 5 hunters to do 2 hunts (1 successful, one not), and assume 1 rest day in between and after the unsuccessful hunt. They want to feed themselves and a couple of children/partners/parents on the rest day too, so 10 people maybe (1 guest per hunter). So like minimum 1500 * 10 * 2 = 30000 calories. There goes the whole Kudu, and everyone's still on a deficit. Fuck up one extra time? Deficit for a couple more days. No energy profit here, folks.

  2. I fucking love that Stoya video the gif is from LOL

  3. I do have to wonder if persistence hunting may have been more effective with other megafauna present in the paleolithic as opposed to kudus. Even so, no doubt ambush-style hunting, traps, etc. would have been more efficient means of hunting but persistence hunts may have been more prevalent in the milieu of methods than they are now (being mostly ceremonial).

    If it were more useful in the distant past, that might explain why it's still carried on as a ritual despite being such a stupid hunting method. Tradition and all that.

    1. Megafauna was hunted at close range with spears. I've got a follow up blog about that coming up shortly.

    2. I'll be looking forward to that. I do agree that the vast majority of hunts would have been of that sort, but I'll hold on to my suspicions that persistence hunts did occur on occasion, whether as ritual (like here), the result of a botched ambush, or due to survival pressures brought about by the disappearance of that megafauna. Or, of course, it's possible that the capacity of our species to run for great distances IS an accidental effect of various other adaptations, and exercising that capacity is outside of what's "natural" for humans, but while the "born to run" camp is pretty well debunked (as in here) I don't think that broader question has much to settle it just yet.

  4. whos tits are those at the end? you need to start adding the chicks to your sources

  5. Does the 140 kg include only lean muscle, or does it include organ meats as well? Those can be fattier and yield a bigger chunk of energy. Also, it could be possible that returning with the food may not use that much energy. If the chase takes a curved or circular path, it could very well cut the return distance by half or more. Also, it could be that the hunters don't return at all. Perhaps the rest of the group merely tracked them and followed along. This is impractical if they have a bunch of shit to carry, or if there are too many of them though. Interesting topic.

    1. Insofar as I understood, that was all edible parts. From what I read about persistence hunting, the hunters would leave a static location and return with the yield of their hunt. You make a good point about the potentially tortuous path of the hunt, however.

  6. "Then, as I love research as much as North Korea's dictators love bad haircuts, Disney, and missiles..."

    Your analogies (allegories?haha)get better with each post. Amazing.
    Well done, sir.

  7. Scott brings up some pertinent points. The animal will never run away in a straight line for 5 hours, so the return distance is going to be a lot shorter. This will bring the caloric expenditure down significantly.

    I also think you're low-balling on the caloric yield. Nowadays, we spoiled Westerners only eat the best parts of an animal, especially wild game. Back then, people would eat most of an animal they killed. Just go to a third world country and see how they eat all the fat and guts from a slaughtered cow.

    Lastly, I saw a persistence hunt video on youtube (sorry, can't provide a link, don't have access from the office) where a group of men separates the animal from the herd, but the actual hunt is carried out only by one man. This would further reduce caloric expenditure for the hunt substantially.

    Still, I agree it definitely wasn't the only way to obtain calories. And I won't become a runner because of it.

  8. A Kalahari bushman visits Jamie at the gym.

    "So Jamie, you pick up a heavy lump metal and then you put it down again. Lots of energy expended, no dead Kudu. And you think we are the crazies?"

  9. Jamie, I don't know if you've ever had kudu but that shit is dope! Def try it if you go to Africa or you can get it shipped here or whatever.

    Also, did you see 60 minutes with Hugh Jackman last night? It had a quick spot of him deadlifting, then an interview at the gym. And he is fucking swole for this new Wolverine movie--he almost looked fake. If you didn't see it check it out.

  10. Who is the first chick from shemuscle? Hot. As always, great read and thanks for the hard work breaking it down.

  11. Is building muscle itself healthy? I know strength is.

  12. Jamie, what is your opinion on the music of Cliff Richard? He has had a top ten record in the charts for the past seven decades! You should check him out. Plus, the guy is fucking jacked!!

  13. Wow, all in this week Jim Wendler came out with a High Frequency work-out program, and Mark Rippetoe put up a piece decrying endurance running. Looks like everything CnP is new again.

    1. Will wonders never cease. I'll be interested to meet Ripp at RUM.

    2. What fucking high frequency program?

  14. Do you use PED's in your training?

    1. Tiger semen and Cambodian breast milk

    2. I switched to Bhutanese breast milk, actually.

  15. ChAos & PAIN,

    Hey man, well, I noticed that in your "User Profile" (as it's called), you've listed 'reading' and 'writing' as interests of yours. While I could comment to no end on your writing, I wonder, if you do actually read, how you can be like this?

    You have a seriously reductive perspective of humans and the world, and that is upsetting. You say you are a man of science, and yet you behave as though your opinion of something influences its science.

    I do not understand what you are trying to achieve here, and I do not really want you to explain it to me; I just feel that you need to understand that the things you propose are fallacious and bigoted, and, because of that, they are not intelligent (even in spite of your opinion of them!).

    I suppose inevitably you'll respond to this with something like "well obviously this skinny fuckin' subhuman can't deadlift 240kg like ChAos & PAIN can and therefore should cease existing", but I'd rather you didn't; just think about it and read more widely, maybe.

    1. If you'd looked at any of my other posts, which you clearly have not, you'd not have posted such silly bullshit. As such, I enjoin you to take your own unsolicited advice and read more widely, because I've clearly read more books in the last year than you likely have in the last ten, and I've cited more varied and wide-ranging sources than you could possibly conceive in any number of posts. In fact, this post was directed at those readers who find my "scholarly" posts dull. I encourage you to comment at length on my writing and how you'd alter it- the opinions of uncredentialed and hilariously hypocritical foreigners are always a breath of fresh air. I'm terribly sorry if I offended you by impugning your manhood, and your butt was clearly hurt by the deadlift comment. I'm sure your parents are immensely proud at having produced a pompous, dim-witted, physically weak human being bereft of a sense of humor.

      PS- I can deadlift 304kg.

    2. ... and I've never claimed to be a "man of science". That is certainly no problem in dissecting the holes in the theories of my peers, however- you can drive a truck through most of them, as I've shown above.

    3. Sweet jesus christ- I thought this was a response to my most recent post. I'm honestly flabbergasted by your comment now. I've no idea what you're carrying on about, actually- I simply crunched numbers. What narrow mindset have I taken? that runners are fucking retarded? If you'd have bothered to read the rest of the series, you'd know EXACTLY why I wrote this.