Runners like to run long

Posted on November 26, 2009 by

I was walking to work today, and I got run over a few times by gaggles of joggers on the streets of New York. They’re here en masse because this weekend, 40,000 people will be running, jogging, walking the 26-mile New York City Marathon. And hundreds of thousands will run in marathons in other parts of the country, other parts of the world this year. What compels so many people to train for so many months, sustain so many injuries that they do just to compete in a really grueling race?

My next guest says this type of running is what humans are fine-tuned to do. It’s what our bodies are made for. And not only that, it might benefit the brain as well. Dan Lieberman is a biological anthropologist at Harvard. And by the way, he is planning to run the New York City Marathon. Welcome to SCIENCE FRIDAY.

Professor DANIEL LIEBERMAN (Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University): Thank you.

FLATOW: Are you out there today, jogging around New York?

Prof. LIEBERMAN: Actually I’m still in Cambridge, getting ready to drive to New York.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: Much more dangerous than jogging.

Prof. LIEBERMAN: Absolutely. It’s the most dangerous part of my weekend.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: John Ratey is an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the author of �Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.� Welcome to SCIENCE FRIDAY.

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