My kids had been stuck inside all day and were stir crazy. So, as the winds from hurricane Irene died down and before it got dark, I took them outside to burn off some steam. I told them to run around the house. As my 4 year old tore around the corner of the house at full speed, I was struck by the apparent truth behind the idea that we are naturally talented runners.
This idea is the premise of Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. The book explores the basis of the human capacity to run and describes a reclusive tribe of mexican indians who are able to run long distances over rough terrain. Watching his TED talk will give you a good idea of his thinking:
His effort to to link skill as a runner with capacity for compassion is a stretch, but all in all it is a fun talk to watch. He has a good presence on stage, his stories are engaging and there is solid evidence to support the evolutionary basis for our ability to run. See for example this recent interview with Harvard professor Daniel Lieberman in which he discusses how the muscles in our necks allow us to keep our heads steady as we run.