In long distance running, men and women hold an extremely close gap of athletic performance, unlike most other sports. But here’s a really incredible fact about running: the University of Utah did a research study where they tracked the progression of marathon times over the course of men and women’s lives.
The conclusion they reached was that if you started running a marathon at age 19 and kept training, then you’d become quicker and quicker every year until you peaked at an average age of 27. Slowly your time would drop back to the same speed you were running when at 19 years old. Now that seems quite obvious, doesn’t it? Of course after a certain age the level of your running is going to start decreasing to the level you were at originally.
Most people would guess that would take perhaps 8-10 years after hitting their peak; so in your late 30s you’d be back to where you started. Nope, it actually takes 45 years… people classed as old age pensioners, 64-year-old men and women are running marathons at the same speed as teenagers.
There are particular theories that are based around why we seem to be born to run. Why is it that even people in their 60s can run the same speed as teenagers? Why is it that women can run the same speed and have the same endurance as men? In short, it’s because we went hunting as a pack.
The best way to describe our species (homo sapiens) especially more than 2,0000 years ago, is that we were WILD and depended on each other to survive. Like a pack of wolves, we would need to hunt together in order to feed each other. We were hunter gatherer nomads and didn’t have many possessions, we’d simply move where the food moved.
This required all of us. The older men who’d been hunting the longest would be the best teachers, the 19-year olds would be the students learning to hunt, and the middle age men would be ready to make the actual kill as they’d be the most effective.
The two times we most need animal proteins in our lives is when we’re an adolescent and a nursing mother. It’s pointless for 27-year olds to be many miles away when the people who need that protein the most are back in a camp. The same goes for the older runners – these men would be the expert trackers, knowing which antelope to pick out etc.
It wouldn’t be helpful if they were 10-15 miles behind everyone else. But like I said earlier, what were we doing and how were we killing bigger and faster animals when we didn’t have weapons? It was our endurance. By being able to chase animals over extreme long distances as a pack we were able to run that animal to exhaustion.
Another reason we were born to run: it feels good. Runners high is a well-documented experience. Remember, we get rewarded when we carry out certain evolutionary processes. When we’re running we release a series of endocannabinoids which are the same chemicals released when people smoke marijuana.
Running also increases the number of receptors for those endocannabinoids, so not only do we release a flurry of chemicals that feel good, but by having more receptors we can feel an even stronger high.
Of course, any kind of exercise makes you feel good, couple that with a strong presence of mind and you have a winning combination! check out our weight loss & body confidence hypnotherapy service to find out how we can get you there.