Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Like an Animal

D - Ran 6 miles in 56:34

Today I finished a fairly interesting and surprisingly inspiration book by Bernd Heinrich. Racing the Antelope, What Animals Can Teach Us About Running and Life. There wasn't a heck of a lot of useful information for runners, but there were great stories and tons of useless facts about animals and people (why do Camels have Humps? Its not for water retention like you thought!). Interspersed (at times haphazardly transitioning) is the story of how Bernd, or Ben as he's also known, got into running as a teenager and went through injuries adventures and ultimately set the Masters record for the 100k - fueled by Ocean Spray Cranberry juice.

So why does a Camel have humps? In addition to a fatty reserve for fuel, it provides shade to keep the animal cool in the heat. The thick hair on top of the hump absorbs the sun's heat before it can overheat the animal. This is largely the same reason we have thick hair on our head.

Much of the book focuses on the way animals deal with energy conservation and heat dispersion. This is very fitting considering how much I failed at that over the weekend. He bounces from transcontinental migrating birds to the pronghorn antelope which can reach speeds up to 61mph - and travel 7 miles in 10 minutes. If you've ever wondered why deer have thin legs or moths have furry thoraxes - this is the book for you.

If you're looking for a manual on training - you'll find plenty of bad ideas (running a fifty mile race on flat beer = failure) or if you're squeamish about stories about hunting and a few sort of cruel experiments (Bernd hunted birds for museum exhibits as a kid) - you might want to skip this book. There was also the reference or two to why men are better at racing than women, that almost sounded apologetic - but I would argue is slowly being proven wrong as women close the performance gap in the last decade.

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