Sunday, March 11, 2012
Finally, The Nature of Things is featuring an episode on a subject of REAL importance: running!* The Perfect Runner, produced and narrated by anthropologist Niobe Thompson, challenges the modern perspective of distance running. Most find running a difficult and painful form of exercise; however, Thompson reveals that it is an activity that humans were born to do.
Throughout the documentary Thompson talks with evolutionary biologist Dr. Daniel Lieberman, a professor at Harvard. Dr. Lieberman explains that humans have adapted over millions of years to become nature's best endurance athletes. Prehistoric humans were hunters who relied on their ability to run long distances to catch their prey. As a result, we have developed a number of features designed to allow us to run farther than any other animal.
Ethiopian elites: Nature or nurture?
Thompson showcases top athletes from Ethiopia and natives of artic Siberia in order to demonstrate how humans have developed to be fine-tuned running machines. These are two of the few remaining cultures that continue to practice running as a way of life and a means of survival. Unfortunately, a modern society where physical activity has been replaced by office chairs and fast food has stunted our growth as a running species. Thompson, however, is among some in the developed world who have tapped in to their inner distance runner. In the documentary, he attempts one of the most grueling ultramarathons in the Canadian Rockies and tests the limits of his own endurance.
Niobe Thompson running the Canadian Death Race
The Perfect Runner is filled with fascinating science and thrilling adventure and is a must-see for distance runners and sedentary folk alike. After all, we were ALL born to run!
Make sure to tune into CBC on Thursday, March 15th at 8PM to watch!
*I kid, Uncle Dave! Don't run me down...
Here is the trailer: