In both the best selling book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall and the recently published Harvard Running study, “Biomechanics of Foot Strikes & Applications to Running Barefoot or in Minimal Footwear”, running is identified as an evolutionary tool in the practice of Persistence Hunting.
Persistence hunting is rarely practiced in the world today, but there is considerable research that indicates our ancestors developed into the perfect hunters. This style of hunting is essentially the use of human endurance to outlast its prey. Lots of animals are faster, but humans have many features not found anywhere else in the animal kingdom that allow us to move for very long periods of time without succumbing to exhaustion.
As we evolved a few really cool things happend. Our ability to sweat also allows our bodies to cool quickly, as most animals primarily do so primarily using their mouth. We developed a bigger trunk that allows for more cooling, and shorter arms that need less energy to move. Those shorter arms are also great for carrying food and water while on the hunt. Our legs allow us to take long strides, while our ligaments and tendons use and store energy. The rigid arches in our feet allow for us to take efficient steps, while the ligaments in our feet act as natural springs. Its these combination of traits and many others that not only made us natural runners, but into natural hunters.
Below is a video of a Kalahari bushmen taking care of business, and outlasting a kudu. Natural runner, naturally awesome. We are wired to do this. Whether it is to save our life or just make it better. Running is a pure simple act that needs no enhancement.