Realities Created, Maintained and Destroyed, WHILE-U-WAIT!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Frankenstein's Monster Chases Bambi

Steve Perry's reply to my post "eating Bambi"

I'll stipulate that you can get meat to supplement a goodly amount of protein by such hunting, but it's nowhere near as efficient as driving a couple eland into a stake pit, or Bambi, Thumper, and Flower over the edge of a cliff and gorging until the meat turns. Not particulary good stewardship of the game that way, but costs a lot less energy than running all day and less risky than going after the mastadon with stone-tipped spears, vis a vis the hunter attrition rate.

Yes, people can run long distances at a slow pace. Given how much easier it is to take game in other ways, this notion of evolution doesn't seem anything more than a tenuous theory. Why spend twenty years learning to walk on water if there's a boat tied up right there?

And it's obvious than humans learned how to kill effectively along the way. Thumbs, tools, the big brain.

As for how many calories you burn running, the Institure of My Chart is Better Than Your Chart seems once again to be the highest authority. Running is not as efficient as walking on any of the charts I've seen, and neither match the calorie-sparing effect of sitting in a chair, and yet, I burn almost three thousand calories a day mostly doing that. Couple of dog walks, a mile or two, some silat, a bit of iron pumping or rope climbing now and then. How you figure that happens? That I'm burning as much as that guy chasing the antelope across the plains?

And something is obviously wrong in your numbers:

"According to the paper "Energy Expenditure of Walking and Running," published December 2003 in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, a man expends an average of 124 calories per mile running and 88 walking. A woman expends 105 calories an hour running and 74 walking."

Unless this is a typo, why use distance for the man and time for the woman? And in either case, the numbers don't pencil out.

If a man burns 124 calories/mile, and if it takes him 8-minutes to run one, then that's 15.5 calories a minute, so that works out to
930 calories an hour, which is almost what I offered. If he walks it in 20 minutes, he's using 6 calories/minute, also the same number from my chart for walking.

If a running woman burns 105 calories per hour, that means she's using 1.75 calories a minute running, which is absurd. Basal metabolism sitting on the couch will eat more than that. (If it's miles and not hours, she's still using 13 calories a minute, 787 calories an hour.)

Better recheck that paper.

Yep, we'd all probably be better off if we started young and ran barefoot enough to develop our feet, climbed trees to keep our muscles toned, and ate like the great apes, grazing. And washed our hands more, didn't smoke, drink to excess, or have unprotected sex. But if you are going to take up running later in life for fitness, then it needs to not cause more problems than it cures.

Tumo is tricky and not that easy to master; sell that to a culture that wants a pill to instantly cure everything from cancer to limp dick. Shoes abound, most people own and wear them -- how many pairs do you have? -- and I don't see folks giving them up. Sure, people will slip neoprene socks or their Vibram Five Fingers on and go on about how natural that is, but it's not. Bare is not covered, sock, shoe, or dotic boots ...

We're tropical creatures. We do well when it's eighty degrees and sunny. We can sweat; climb; loam or humus under the trees works for us. We don't do well at thirty-below in just our hide, and that includes our feet. That you or I might stand a bit of snow on bare skin for a few minutes is not the same as spending the days and nights in such weather. Hard to keep the tumo going while you are tired or asleep. And you have to burn a lot of fuel to do it.

We were not evolved to run on concrete poured to city code. If we see any kind of large-scale movement in this direction, and I'd be surprised if we did -- we are going to see a bunch of injuries. Wait and see. You heard it here first.

I have to say that I think your shoe-barefoot argument was dealt a neat crotch kick with the San hunter and his running shoes in the video you used. Here's a guy who grew up running, chasing Bambi. Skinny, slight, should be in shape. Why would he wear shoes? Even the barefoot running gurus who hold up the Tarahumara as examples allow that running at a steady speed on flat, hard surfaces, is apt to make one prone to injuries. (And I find it really amusing that one has to train to run "naturally," and coincidentally most of these gurus offer how-to courses in the right way to do it -- for a price.)

Given what I know about plantar fasciitis -- from personal experience -- barefoot running or even walking is apt to make that worse if you have it, and more likely to develop if you don't, especially if you are heavier than the typical long-distance runner -- loading up the arch is part of the cause. Heel-strike running is harder on the knees, but either can cause injuries in the hips or back -- without those glutes we wouldn't be standing upright, and even with them, we don't do it very well -- eight or nine people out of ten will suffer back injuries sooner or later. I stretch my feet, tendons, muscles regular as part of my training routine, and every morning as a matter of course, I use a wooden foot roller on my arches. The first thing a podiatrist will tell you if you get fasciitis is to put on shoes the moment you step out of bed, and to use arch supports until it goes away. Muscles and connective tissue have their limits; they can wear out or fail no matter how careful you are.

Distance running favors a certain body type, we all know what it looks like, and if you don't have it and a goodly amount of slow-twitch muscle, you are making do.

The plural of anecdote is not evidence -- science hasn't weighed in on the bare-is-better issue yet. Most of what you see when you go looking are websites by guys who are selling books, videos, or courses touting the barefoot movement as the next thing. Or interviews of these folks by gullible media-types -- if that's not redundant.

When the identical twin studies with two hundred pound marathoners start coming in showing that barefoot running is far safer and injury-free across the board than running in shoes, then maybe you'll have something; so far, the evidence isn't there. (Can't do double-blind, the runners will almost certainly know whether or not they are wearing shoes.)

Show me the hard science studies ...

Steve Perry


Mo'in said...

Dear Mushtaq (and Mr. Perry),

Thank you for this post! has given us a worldview, a method, obvious abilities to (seemingly) manage our environment with all manner of technological means. This is indisputable.

And yet...I am not convinced that something can be dismissed if it doesn't live up to the scientific standard. We are indeed in a mess because the scientific model has not been held accountable to something deeper. This is also indisputable, though perhaps not to those seeing through the scientific veil, since the "deeper" cannot be effectively proven (or disproven).

I don't mean to rant here, but this whole natural running thing (of which I am a part) seems to me to be just a manifestation of something larger, an evolving of sorts, that is rooted in, and sprouting from, a much richer soil.

If it takes incurring some soreness and injury along the way in order for us to find our way back to the soil and sky, then so be it!

Those who require the stamp of approval from science will have to catch up.

I realize that to some this post may sound non-sensical.

All good wishes,


Steve Perry said...

Not non-sensical, but when it comes to matters of faith, one either believes or one does not. Trying to prove such things doesn't work -- do I believe in something beyond myself? Yes. Want to use the term "God?" Okay.

Can I prove God's existence to anyone? Not using the rules of evidence and science as I understand them.

(Nor can I disprove it; however, in debate, burden of proof lies with the affirmative. If you I believe in ghosts and you don't, how do I convince you I am right? Simply telling you isn't the way. I have to offer proof.)

Mushtaq's contention that barefoot running might be much better than padded running shoes may be true. And I suspect there are instances where it can be demonstrated for some people, at least some of the time. But because your cat has kittens in the oven, it doesn't make them biscuits.

Science sometimes lags and takes forever to finally prove what almost everybody already knew. But because a thing might be so isn't the same as it is so, and in such cases, my personal experience trumps somebody else's -- when I'm the guy doing the talking.

My zen might not work for anybody else, but if I'm going to abandon it and take up theirs instead, I need a reason, and "I know." or "Everybody knows." isn't enough.

This is what a debate is -- offering of opinion, evidence, logic, to prove a point. "Here's what I think" versus what somebody else thinks isn't a debate without some basis.

"Take my word for it." Maybe, but not unless I trust you to have done the unbiased research, and even then, I'd want to check it.

If the evidence present is incomplete or faulty, then it raises legitimate questions for further discussion.