Animal Instinct

This is another guest post from my amazing husband, Dan. I’m fairly certain he wrote this post as a result of an argument we had several days ago. I told him that I didn’t think running should involve so much thought, planning, research. He told me that was his favorite part about it! And here we go:

The hardest part of running for me had always been having the attention span to run more than a couple miles. I can stick though the burning legs, raging heartbeat and bursting lungs as I push through longer and longer distances, but what I couldn’t take is the god-awful boredom of running.   I couldn’t go more than a few blocks away from my apartment before I started daydreaming of turning around because I couldn’t focus on anything else that how bored I was, and therefore, I felt even more tired. Then once the cold weather rolls in and I’m forced to run on a treadmill, forget it! What would feel like 10 miles turns out to be .10miles and I’ve already burned through every basic cable station on the treadmill TV. I thought I was doomed from running simply based on my poor attention span; until I started researching barefoot running.

Some of the articles I found about running with a forefoot strike centered around the concept of why we run and why humans seemed to be designed to run – what I found out then became my sole motivation when I’m mid stride.  I can’t tell you where I first read it or who wrote it but I discovered that the theory of why humans are capable of running long distances is a matter of survival of our species. In short, even the animals most adapted to running, dogs and horses, can’t run for very long period of time before they die of exhaustion. That’s where humans come in. It’s part of our genome to be able to run steady paces for long distances and eventually out-distance any animal we’re chasing. The details on this can be found here:

So if you were dropped in the middle of an open plain with nothing but a few basic survival tools and a deer comes galloping by, (assuming you’re in relatively decent shape) it is in your favor to chase that deer down not within a matter of yards, but over the span of 10+ miles. Your survival depends not on speed, but endurance. And it’s this thought process that keeps me running mile after mile.  I picture myself chasing any number of animals, simply tailing the beast, knowing that all I have to do to survive is tail him for a few more miles until he collapses of exhaustion then it’s dinner time! This may be a little raw and brutal, but it’s what works for me and in the last few months, it’s served as a very effective method for motivating me to go farther. The only thing about it is that I prefer to draw a blank stare into an OFF TV when I’m on the treadmill at the gym, so I’m pretty sure fellow gym-goers think I’m crazy.

A solid playlist, upcoming race or even a few cups of coffee beforehand can no longer hold a candle to motivating me like chasing an animal through nature, knowing that thousands of years of evolution have favored human design in long distance running and it’s a few more miles or stop lights, or blocks until I’ll reach my front door where that animal I’ve been chasing will have collapse in exhaustion. I will have won.  So the next time you’re taking a jog around the blog if you’re unfortunately stuck on a treadmill, picture yourself chasing after an animal – and you’re very hungry!

Happy running!

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