Are we built for the long run?

Yesterday, my friend Sarah and I were talking about my new and completely ridiculous goal of running a half marathon by this October.  I told her that when I run for more than a half a mile my knees hurt (she agreed), my head hurts (she agreed), my muscles felt like they were slowly separating from the bone (I think she agreed), and I have to spit every thirty seconds (she said this was NOT something she did…then I felt gross).  

But as we were talking, she brought up a point that I had been thinking about for quite some time…was I really built for this?  I have been saying for years that with my asthma and old knee injuries, I figured this was not something I personally was built for.  But Sarah brought up the possibility that maybe no one was.  She said that we were built for sprinting to catch our prey, then eating, then being lazy.  I sort of agree with her in that what she describes seems to be my daily routine.  Instead of catching my prey, I’m sprinting to catch the bus, running shuttles back and forth from the printer to my desk, dashing out to get a club sandwich at Belly Roll Ben’s, running with my dog, then sitting on my ass for the rest of the night watching bad reality TV.  This is how I have maintained my life and my desirable body weight for the past 29 years.  I don’t see a problem with it and running is sort of f-ing up my equilibrium.  

So naturally, I did what any modern day smarty pants would do…I googled it.  I found a TON of articles in favor of endurance running, but even more against.  Here’s one: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/did-humans-evolve-to-be-long-distance-runners/.  And I sort of believe it.  I don’t know if humans were meant to be running miles on end.  It tears up your joints and cartilage and puts you at higher risk for other injury.  Sarah even mentioned that it wears on your heart, marathon and other endurance runners presenting higher scar tissue and more cardiovascular problems later in life.  

I think about all my friends, who are just running-obsessed.  I think of them as healthy people.  They take good care of their bodies, they’re athletic, eat pretty healthily, care about things like vitamins and all that stuff.  One of my old interns runs these things called “ultras” which is any race longer than a marathon.  She ran one that was 50 miles.  Do you even understand how long that is?  I mean, that’s crazy, right?  Well, I think it is.  And my attitude before was, if you can do it, then do it.  All that training, all those pre-races, all must be good for you, right?  Now I am not so sure.

So I’m running this stupid half marathon.  I’m doing it because it’s always something I’ve wanted to be able to do (notice I didn’t say something I’ve always wanted to do…because there is a difference).  I’m doing it.  I used to say that if it didn’t kill me, it would just make me stronger.  Apparently not so much.

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