The book “Exercised” by Daniel Lieberman has been a good read. Not least for the fact that it has confirmed many of my previous biases. ( but that’s for another post).
In one of the final chapters Lieberman ( the “godfather” of the born to run movement …for which he partially apologised for in this book) talks about a film showing the San hunters of the Kalahari. At one point ( about 8 minutes 45 seconds into the film) Lieberman talks about one of the runners running at full speed after some giraffes, so that he can shoot one with an arrow. Looking at the film…full speed doesn’t appear to be very fast. The romantic notion that Paleo folk like Mark Sisson seems to promote, of muscular hunters sprinting like supreme athletes, isn’t supported so well here.
At about 15 minutes and 50 seconds into the film, the hunters encounter the giraffes again. The SAME man from the group (seems as though the hunters are accepting of who the better ”runners” are, and are happy to let them get on with it) runs after the giraffe. His only reward is thorns in his feet, which he has to pick out.
I’ve said it for some time now…running in these environments is in no way similar to how it is practiced in the developed world. The speed is slower than we are led to believe. The romantic notion of super athletes is not the reality and the amount of running practices is probably far less than we would like to think. Couple this with the mechanics of running barefoot over rough and hazardous terrain making it look like an almost totally different activity than hurtling down the road in a pair of carbon plated racing shoes.
We were not born to run, but can, but only when necessary. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to run voluntarily on that terrain, barefoot, unless they had to.
The actual average pace of a persistence hunt has been documented at little over 6 kilometres per hour. This is a mixture of varied paces plus stops to re establish tracks.
The running shown was sporadic, infrequent and not continuous. The rest of the time they just walked…