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Hunter or hunted?

6 January, 2010

I wish I knew what happened to my copy of Bernd Heinrich’s Why We Run. It’s a classic of running literature, and about time that I read it again. I may have mentioned this book already, but just to recap, Heinrich rationalizes his extreme running habit outlines his theory that we humans run because we were born to run, because our ancestors came down from the trees and started running after the antelopes, and only the runners survived. Of course, another consequence of coming down from the trees was that we exposed ourselves to all kinds of beasts that previously had no access to us: we became the hunted as well as the hunter. These influences are all expressed not only in our anatomical structures, but also in our endocrine system and our nervous system, as well as their respective interactions.

Of course, unless we’re running in a remote region of Canada where the grizzly (or possibly black) bear roams, there isn’t much to worry about anymore when it comes to scary beasts. But our bodies don’t know that. If we don’t exercise, the flight-or-flight response goes haywire and starts firing off at the wrong time, and maybe we get anxious, or behave erratically, or tranquilize ourselves, or get into fights, and so on.

Being a runner allows one to cultivate the mindset of the hunter. The objects of our predation may only be metaphorical, but they are also as broad in scope as our imaginations will allow. Because the tribe is so much bigger than it was before, we must use every tool at hand to find a niche, to know what exactly we’re supposing to be running after. Reversible thumbs just aren’t enough anymore. Our goals may be creative and personal: entrepreneurial or artistic, nurturing or compassionate, we may not even eat meat anymore. But one thing I now know (why didn’t they teach this kind of thing in school?) is that if you don’t declare yourself either as hunter or hunted then the decision will be made for you. And it’s not one that you’re going to like.

An easy eight-and-a-half mile of a hump day.

The mountains from Point Grey today

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ray permalink
    7 January, 2010 12:09 pm

    Did you mean opposable thumbs? *grin*. Nice blog, hope to see you at the track tonight.

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