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Runblogger Runcast #7: The Evolution of Distance Running in Humans

Runblogger Runcast #7 is an audio podcast of a lecture I gave to my Exercise Physiology class on the evolution of distance running in humans. In this lecture I outline the hypothesis recently put forth by researchers Dennis Bramble and Daniel Lieberman that humans beings have evolved anatomical and physiological characteristics that make us outstanding at running slowly for long distances in the heat of day, and that these traits like evolved in association with increasing incorporation of meat in the diet of early human ancestors (i.e., for hunting and scavenging).

This hypothesis has been notably outlined in several recent books on running, including Why We Run by Bernd Heinrich, Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, Running Through the Ages by Edward Sears, and Strides: Running Through History with an Unlikely Athlete by Benjamin Cheever.

This lecture was the second of the semester in my Exercise Physiology class, and my goal was to present the idea that humans evolved to be highly active animals.  I’m debating whether to podcast the entire course (separate from this runcast), and would love to hear what you think!

To listen or subscribe via RSS:

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Alternatively, you can listen directly here:

Literature Cited:

In addition to the articles below, you can also follow this link to another post that provides a much longer list of popular articles, scholarly articles, and blog posts on the evolution of running in humansfor more related articles/on-line resources.

Bramble DM, Lieberman DE. 2004. Endurance running and the Evolution of Homo. Nature 432:345-352.

Liebenberg L. 2006. Persistence Hunting by Modern Hunter‐Gatherers. Current Anthropology 47(6):1017-1026.

Lieberman DE, Bramble DM. 2007. The evolution of marathon running capabilities in humans. Sports Med 37:288-90.

Shea JJ. 2006. The Origins of Lithic Projectile Point Technology: Evidence from Africa, the Levant, and Europe. J. Arch. Sci. 33(6):823-846.

If you liked this post and want to learn more about why humans run so well and how we evolved to do so, I highly recommend the following books by Bernd Heinrich and Christopher McDougall:

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a biology teacher, track/soccer coach, and dad (x3) with a passion for running, soccer, and science. If you'd like to learn a little bit more about who I am and what I do, click here, or visit


  1. Hi Peter – i enjoyed your lecture. I have recently read Born To Run and am trying to transition to barfoot running!

    • Pete Larson says:


      Thanks for the feedback! I also highly recommend Why We Run by Bernd
      Heinrich. He published a lot of the stuff way before Born to Run came out.


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