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Large 6 Inch Medal
Perfect motivation for your training runs!
If you could be a fantasy creature in a virtual running world, what would you look like? Would you be fast or slow, or something with a big nose? How far would you go? Would you run one mile or two? Would you keep on running even with black and blue running toes? I know how it is. I have met the Wall Monster, the hideous creature that turns my every mile into the thoughts of the impossible. My monster lurks in the shadows, nagging me along the way to stop, go home, rest. I fight back, drowning the monster in sweat, causing it to scream in agony with every calorie burned. It is during this battle with the Wall Monster that I dream of special abilities to fight back. Perhaps some skill or power to strike the Wall Monster down as it jumps from the trail, sinking its teeth into my calf, dragging me down into the dark abyss.
As I plod through the miles, I explore the idea of being a creature with special abilities for fighting my Wall Monster. I need more oxygen for my run. Perhaps I would be a creature with a large lung capacity. Humans have a 6 liter lung capacity. Although when I run, it feels like I have a 1.5 liter. The Blue Whale, the largest creature on earth, has a 5000 liter lung capacity and can hold its breath while swimming for over an hour. In comparison, some species of Salamander do not have lungs, breathe through their skin, and move along just fine.
If I could morph into a quadruped, would all those legs help me on my run? Caribou have four legs and migrate about 3000 miles annually, the most of any land mammal. Of course, if I was a Caribou, I would have to deal with fur wedges. Do they use Glide?
How about speed? Sarah, a Cheetah from the Cincinnati Zoo, holds the record for the fastest land mammal at 61 mph. Bob, a Pronghorn Antelope from Wyoming, came in second place at 60 mph. Chicked again! The Brown Hare is also very fast, at 47 mph, but I read somewhere that a Tortoise beat the Hare once in a race. Usian Bolt, the world’s fastest man, runs 28 mph for about 9 seconds. Is there something faster on land? How about a Paratarsotomus macropalpis, which is a mite, no bigger than a sesame seed? This little guy was recently recorded running at 322 body lengths per second, the equivalent to a person running roughly 1300 miles per hour. That seems pretty fast.
How about freakishly large tendons – that should help me run through the wall. The sizable tendons in the legs of the Tammar Wallaby use energy efficiently. Most animals running across the ground exhibit an increase in energy cost as their speed increases. Not the hopping Tammar Wallaby though, which can go faster without it costing more energy. These remarkable running feats are due to the use of elastic energy storage in the large tendons of its hind legs.
Based on the above information, let me try and convince you that I am a Wizard (call me Gandalf the Slow) and my objective is to create a recipe for the perfect running creature, some type of beast to run a marathon or longer. I would take the best qualities of these animals and combine them in my magical Vitamix blender. I would add a dash of attitude and a pinch of spirit (I am a Wizard after all!), push the pulse, blend or crush setting (same button) until there is a primeval frothy soup of running goo. Pour goo into a mold, cook in my Hasbro Easy Bake Oven that I got on eBay, until it’s a nice golden brown. Sprinkle it with glitter and persistence and what would this amazing, Frankenstein running, Seuss-ish creature look like?
It would look like you! Yes, you! You are designed to be the best runner on earth. Humans are the only species that can run extraordinarily long distances continuously without dying from exhaustion or heat stroke. No other animal or creature could even compete. Have you ever seen a Wallaby signing up for the 127 mile Badwater ultra-marathon? I think not.
Most people think that animals are considered far superior in running. Not so. Antelopes and Cheetahs, are built for speed, not endurance. You can outrun any animal on the planet due to your abundant sweat glands, specially designed Achilles tendons, big knee joints and your large muscular gluteus maximis. Human bodies are beautifully tuned running machines. Humans can outlast and outrun nature’s best four-legged distance runners which includes wolves, hyenas, camels, horses and dogs. The harsher the weather, especially in extreme heat, the more humans excel over animals.
Your anatomy was designed to run, and even without considering your colorful, high-tech running shoes, you sport several adaptations that make you the world’s best distance runner. These adaptations surpass the running abilities of the most ferocious, furry, or fleet creatures we envy. What you lack in terms of power and speed, you make up by being phenomenal at slow and steady.
Specifically, you are already equipped with long, springy tendons in your legs and feet. These function like large elastics, storing energy and releasing it with each running stride. This reduces the amount of energy it takes for your next step. Why do we have all these tendons in our legs? They are not needed for walking. Kangaroos, antelope, and other serious animal runners also have a great set of springs, which do nothing for walking, which means you were designed to be a runner.
You, as a part of the human species, have the ability to stabilize your head and torso as you run. Animals have tails, for stabilization. Yes, tails would be cool. Think of all the running accessories you could attach. But without the balancing help of a tail, how do we avoid falling over when we run? A large gluteus maximus. Why is our gluteus so maximus? It turns out it is crucial, right up there with the chin, among traits that make us uniquely human. Chimps and other primates have little buns and are not runners. Our south sides are huge, comparatively speaking. Your caboose is greatly expanded to provide balance, which is basically a substitute for a tail. And you thought a big butt was a bad thing. Apparently, it’s all about that bass, no treble.
We also pump our arms back and forth while jogging, which helps steady us too. Our shoulders and arms actually help counter-balance the head, preventing it from pitching forward on each landing. With each heel strike, certain shoulder muscles contract and put tension on the nuchal ligament, pulling up the skull and keeping it level. What is the nuchal ligament? Adept runners like horses, dogs, and rabbits keep their noggins remarkably steady as they lope, thanks to that obscure bit of anatomy called the nuchal ligament. It’s a tendon, like a rubber band that links the head to the spine. Humans also have this tendon, although some people have this band wound way too tight.
Even the human waist, thinner and more flexible than that of our primate relatives, allows us to twist our upper bodies as we run to counter-balance the slightly off-center forces exerted as we stride with each leg. I find with age, I seem to have lost my thinner and flexible waist somewhere in my evolution.
When humans actually start running, it only takes a bit more energy for us to run faster. Other animals, on the other hand, expend a lot more energy as they speed up, particularly when they switch from a trot to a gallop, which most animals cannot maintain over long distances.
Humans also have several adaptations that help dump the enormous amounts of heat generated by running. These adaptations include our hairlessness (well, at least some of us), our ability to sweat, and the fact that we breathe through our mouths when we run. This not only allows us to take bigger breaths, but also helps dissipate heat. You can run in conditions that no other animal can run in.
Animals get rid of excess heat by panting, and they can’t pant when they gallop or run. That means that ancient humans running after their dinner didn’t have to run further than the animal could trot and didn’t have to run faster than the animal could gallop. All they had to do is to run faster, for longer periods of time, than the slowest speed at which the animal started to gallop. Herds of Krispy Kreme doughnuts were captured this way.
All together, these adaptations allowed us to relentlessly pursue game and doughnuts in the hottest part of the day, when most animals rest. Attempting to run long distances in the heat of the day, most animals would develop hyperthermia, the equivalent of heat stroke in humans, after about 10 to 15 kilometers.
Basically, you are it: the world’s best running machine. So what are you going to do with your special powers? Not sit there, I am sure. And when the Wall Monster comes, what are you going to do? Your only limit is you – so start where you are, use what you have and do what you can. I will run.
I Will Run Virtual Run Medal includes:
Custom Designed Large Finishing Medal – 6 inches of bling!
Custom Designed Dye Sublimation Lanyard
Customizable Bib that you can personalize with your name and favorite number
Donation to Charity – 10 percent of our profits – see About page for more info.
How to participate in Virtual Run World’s I Will Run Virtual Run:
- Purchase the I Will Run Virtual Run Medal in our SHOP
Earn your medal with a run, walk, bike or anything you like, for anytime, anywhere or any distance, in one day or multiple days, its up to you. Open all the time ~ no end date!
Visit our Virtual Bibs page to customize your bib – add your name, favorite bib number and print.
- Share your Results
This is optional, but we would like you to share your run by commenting on this page and on our Facebook page.
- Receive Your Medal and Celebrate
Receive your finishing medal in the mail!
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