Sunday, September 19, 2010
Full Moon Blog Lessons from the Wolf Series Running with Wolves for your Body and Happiness and Soul.
Many of us sit at our jobs or because of our long list of commitments have very little or no time to do what are bodies are adapted for, namely walking long distances and running across the large expanse of land. At night our ancestors danced and drummed around the fire, an activity that added to our physical health and reinforced social bonds. In ancient times the balance of eating enough, exercise and physical safety were quite different than they are now for most of us who live in modern first nation countries. Back then starvation haunted us and danger was always around the corner.
Today danger is not a constant threat. No more running from hungry lions or barbaric invaders. Yes, there is the natural disaster and home invader but for the most part we are safe in our home or work space. Life in our modern world can be daunting, though. Obesity and other stress related diseases are on the rise. We have an abundance of food and like every animal we will eat until we burst because our biological mind does not know when we will eat again. However, our logical mind knows we will always have food but when we are stressed or unhappy we eat for comfort. Calories go in but are stored due to our lack of exercise. We are out of balance.
D.M. Bramble and D.E. Lieberman (Nature 2004) work stated that "striding bipedalism is a key derived behavior of hominids that possibly originated soon after the divergence of the chimpanzee and human lineages. Humans perform remarkably well at endurance running, due to skeletal features. The fossil evidence of these features suggests that endurance running is a derived capability of the genus Homo, originating about 2 million years ago, and may have been instrumental in the evolution of the human body form."
We are born to run. Like us wolves have long legs and according to Barry Lopez (Of Wolf and Men) they have "masterfully adapted feet give the wolf endurance over long distances and agility in challenging terrain.
Wolves walk on toes equipped with pads that, although calloused to prevent cuts, are soft nonetheless. Wolves have been clocked at top speeds of 35 to 45 miles per hour when sprinting and can bound and leap as far as 16 feet. Even more impressive than their speed and athleticism, however, is their stamina. Wolves have been known to travel as far as 120 miles in a single day Pack members average 10 to 20 miles a day, depending largely on the availability of food and whether or not there are pups to feed."
Humans and wolves ran, hunted, and have migrated great distances in search for food and other resources. It was hard, but the health benefits have endured. Running is great for building stronger bone, stamina, heart, balance, posture, staying lean, energy getting vitamin D from the sun, and stress reduction. Not to mention fun. Watch kids running during recess or wolves at play.
The cool thing about going on a run is you can do it with your ‘wolfish’ companion, the dog. Like a wolf you can take to the forest mountain trails or open plains. Personally, when I run with my standard poodle (he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing) I prefer trails away from cars and other reminders of civilization. Running allows me to pretend we are running in search of prey (a giant soy flavored tofu burger). Below is my running buddy, who is enjoying my first novel after a good run.
Best of all running allow my wild side to emerge. My imagination explodes. To quote Clarissa Pinkola Estés (Women Who Run with the Wolves: Contacting the Power of the Wild Woman) "Be wild; that is how to clear the river. The river does not flow in polluted, we manage that. The river does not dry up, we block it. If we want to allow it its freedom, we have to allow our ideational lives to be let loose, to stream, letting anything come, initially censoring nothing. That is creative life.”
Okay, so running is not your thing. Next blog will be on Dancing with Wolves.