Doing stuff we did 20k years ago
Why is running on trails more fun than running on roads
I started a habit of running. For the last two months, I’ve been running twice a week.
The thing is, I hated running. I started doing it for 30 minutes and would just run on the road. I still hated it.
Then I tried heading out on a trail.
I’m not sure what it was, the green environment, the constant challenge of navigating rocks, roots and the winding trail or the fact that I couldn’t see the final destination and thus focus more on the actual moment.
No idea, but now I really enjoy running.
What makes running on a trail so much better?
Why do I feel more alive, why does it feel less boring, why does time fly by when I’m running on a trail rather than on a road?
I think it has to do with our past.
It’s this idea that somehow our bodies and brains are still pretty much what they used to be 10,000 years ago, but everything else has changed.
We can now binge-watch Netflix and spend a whole day inside, fill up on calories by eating processed junk food or lose weight by running on a treadmill indoors.
Great achievements of civilisation, but do they make you feel good? I feel much better after spending the whole day outside. I am full of energy when eating a meal cooked from raw ingredients and now enjoy running - when on a trail.
Our bodies must still be looking out for nutrients, sunlight and the thrill of running through the wild. Maybe that’s what our bodies are programmed to do.
I think this is why to me, running on dull concrete feels like a chore, but running on a trail feels great.
What else feels better when done the way our forefathers did it?
I’m not sure when this idea first clicked with me, but since then I’ve been thinking about stuff from this perspective. Here are a few things I’ve come to realise:
I feel like shit when using my phone/computer all day.
I sleep much better if I’ve spent the day outside vs. inside.
Problems mysteriously solve themselves if I move about, walk around and most importantly have no distractions.
Getting out into the sun right when I wake up, is not the same as coffee, but has a similar effect.
Not moving and sitting all day long is the perfect recipe for back pain for all of us working in front of computers.
Not eating the first thing I get up, gives me a lot more energy.
Walking barefoot or in barefoot shoes seems to help with foot and knee-related issues.
Additionally, I’ve been picking up this concept in all sorts of books.
A Hunter-Gatherers Guide to the 21st Century, is a complete book on the topic.
Civilised to Death, covers interesting aspects such as happiness, well-being and quality of life since civilisation started.
Eat Like a Human, talks about the better nutrition in the food of our ancestors.
Jaws, dives deep into why processed food causes a lot of dental issues such as crooked teeth.
and Breathe dives deeper expanding on processed food causing breathing issues.
Why am I telling you this?
Not all of this might be 100% applicable or proven. I’m not advocating living like a pre-historic nomad, but instead, keeping these things in mind and perhaps applying bits and pieces.
Keep in mind that our body hasn’t changed much in all these years, but everything else has. The way we move, the way we work, the way we eat etc.
It has helped me a great deal to apply this common sense to all sorts of life situations. Whenever I encounter something new, I ask myself how would we have done this 10,000 years ago.
More often than not, the answer is a pretty decent one.
But keep in mind that balance is important.