The notion that we are all descended from risk-takers is the subject of this month's National Geographic. Around 60,000 B.C. modern humans began migrating out of Africa, eastward across southern Asia to Australia, then into Europe, and lastly to the Americas and the South Pacific. Thus began a voyage into the unknown, that led to sea voyages, air and space discoveries and has culminated (for now) in an exploration of the universe.
In honor of our nomadic ancestors, writer Paul Salopek has embarked on a seven-year, 22,000-mile journey to follow in the footsteps of the first great explorers as they radiated out of Africa and across the planet. It is the trail of some of the first risk takers, who along the way took bites of unknown plants and encountered unknown species of animals, learned to traverse deep water, and discovered ways to sustain their body temperature in the cold. The idea for Salopek is to walk the daily length that nomads did when they left Africa 50,000 to 70,000 years ago. Scientists have found that to be about ten miles a day.
Ten miles. Per day.
Think about how far you walk, jog, or run each day - or don't. And the next time you lace up, or the first time for some, keep in mind your roots, and aim for a distance of 10 miles. For those with a pedometer 10 miles equals about 20,000 steps. The caloric cost of this level of activity, which takes only a couple hours to complete, is 1,000 to 1,500 calories, the equivalent of what some people burn in an entire twenty-four hours of sitting and lying down!
Traversing this distance (10 miles) even every other day would put you at 35 or so miles for the week. And doing so for just a few weeks would put you on course to run a marathon, thus catapulting you into a small and select group of the population who have completed 26.2 miles on foot - and enjoy it.
Note to Salopek: If he ran those 22,000 miles instead of walked them, we bet he could cut about 3.5 years off the length of his epic journey - but as they say, it's not about the destination but the ride. However, if you find yourself crunched for time, then speed up. Remember, we were designed to run fast. Think back to when you were a kid and how you loved to sprint around the playground. The fountain of youth consists of doing what you loved to do when you were young.
Running is in your blood. Honor your heritage by taking a risk and just go for it!