The physiology of marathon running

Mint takes a look at how the human body survives a marathon


A file photo of Delhi Half Marathon. Photo: HT
A file photo of Delhi Half Marathon. Photo: HT

Science suggests that over centuries, humans evolved to be long-distance runners and that the capability is unique among primates and rare even among mammals.

In a 2007 paper, Daniel E. Lieberman, a Harvard evolutionary biologist, argued that humans could outrun almost any animal, as they cooled by sweating and not panting, a technique that allowed the human body to stay cool at speeds and distances that would overheat animals. The paper said that humans could outrun a horse in a 42.1km marathon.

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