One of my favorite run routes will always be to the art museum...which involves a quick spin inside if it’s not too early. And today, a really old sculpture just begged for a deeper look into human movement.
When you look at biomechanics, humans are only mediocre runners…distance traveled per pound of weight we carry takes a lot of energy. So why would we run? We’re poor sprinters compared to horses, greyhounds, and antelope. But with longer distances efficiency improves, and running speeds between us (humans) and them (quadrupeds) are pretty comparable.
Endurance running (moving many miles over extended time using aerobic metabolism) is our anatomical specialty. Over longer distances, running becomes less costly than walking by using a mass-spring mechanism that allows the legs to flex and extend more, and there is a greater exchange of kinetic and potential energy.
The distance that a fit human can routinely cover (roughly 6 miles) is largely impossible for any other primate. Kind of cool, I think.
Endurance running takes energetics, strength, stabilization, and thermoregulation. We’re perfect for it. We have long legs relative to our body mass. We have a foot arch to create spring. Plus large quads and glutes to create power and enhance trunk stabilization. We breathe through our mouth instead of panting or nasal breathing (that’s just too much darn resistance) to unload our heat. So in case you ever doubted your running capabilities, sit on the fence no longer. You are highly specialized.
And this is what I listened to at the museum. It feels kind of right to look at art with it playing.