Sports Medicine

, Volume 37, Issue 4–5, pp 288–290 | Cite as

The Evolution of Marathon Running

Capabilities in Humans
  • Daniel E. LiebermanEmail author
  • Dennis M. Bramble
Conference Paper


Humans have exceptional capabilities to run long distances in hot, arid conditions. These abilities, unique among primates and rare among mammals, derive from a suite of specialised features that permit running humans to store and release energy effectively in the lower limb, help keep the body’s center of mass stable and overcome the thermoregulatory challenges of long distance running. Human endurance running performance capabilities compare favourably with those of other mammals and probably emerged sometime around 2 million years ago in order to help meat-eating hominids compete with other carnivores.


Semicircular Canal Gluteus Maximus Endurance Running Eccrine Sweat Gland Bipedal Walking 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank David Carrier, David Raichlen and John Shea for discussions and input, and the National Science Foundation for funding. The authors have indicated that they have no affiliation or financial interest in any organisation(s) that may have a direct interest in the subject matter of this article.


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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Anthropology and Organismic and Evolutionary BiologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

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