I never really liked running. In high school, I tried to join track & field and after a few days of getting acclimated to cold evening laps, running in circles, my shins splintered so bad I was left limping to class for weeks. I quit a bit later.
It wasn't until I was old enough to afford living in New York City that I had enough of staving it off. I signed up for a 5k, one of those theme ones, where you can easily forget you're torturing yourself. It was the Epic Fail Challenge. And after getting into the swing of training, and realizing, “hey, I'm not so bad at this running thing” - they didn't even time it. But I did finish.
I dropped the chase again until years later when my best friend and I were living together in California, and he was running enough to make me want to join. It all culminated in the REI Bay Area Trail 10K after weeks of miles, sprints, and loops around the local high school track. Full circle.
Now, I find myself back on the East Coast wondering if I want to be the casual American jogger. But the more I run, the more I learn, and what I'm starting to notice is we weren't meant to do this. Or at least not like this.
"In Born to Run, his 2010 bestseller, Christopher McDougall pulls no punches in telling the story of how Nike essentially convinced a generation of joggers to ignore the evolved bio-mechanics of the human body and run in an unnatural, debilitating way that required the purchase of their overpriced, utterly unnecessary products," author Chris Ryan Ph. D. explained in his Psychology Today column, Civilized to Death.
Could be my body was trying to say something with those shin splints all those years ago.
And what if what we can call progress is really just running the opposite direction from what's helped us evolve after all these years too?
Janine Benyus would agree. Benyus is a biologist and a writer, and she coined the term biomimicry - the concept of design based on the functions of the biological world. In a Vox segment entitled The world is poorly designed. But copying nature helps, Benyus drops this sick burn, "the people who design our world usually never take a biology class, believe it or not, so they're novices in how the world works."
We don't need to shed everything that's modern to live our best lives, but it might help to step back and recall that we've been around a lot longer than we can remember, and there is something to learn in our past.