The premise of this Slate piece is that because animals are more athletic than humans, long-distance running is the only real sportâ€¦ Really. That’s it. The article actually has some interesting info about evolutionary changes in the human body resulting in us being a lean, mean, long-distance running machine, but it’s all larded up by a thesis that’s not actually supported anywhere.
Weâ€™ve inherited large leg and foot joints from those ancestors, which spread out high forces that must be absorbed when running. To help ensure stability on two legs, we have big gluteus maximus muscles. (Chimps, which are incapable of distance running, have comparatively tiny butts.) Our clever torsos are designed to “counter-rotate” versus the hips as we run, also aiding stability. And we have an unusually large percentage of fatigue-resistant, slow-twitch muscle fibers, which make for endurance rather than speed. By contrast, most animals are geared for sprinting because theyâ€™re either predators that chase or prey that run away, and their muscles thus have much higher percentages of fast-twitch fibers than ours. (Cheetahs’ hind-leg muscles are the fast-twitch-richest of all.)