We do not need to read a book or a scientific treatise to tell us that, though both are there to confirm the fact so that we can perhaps be more comfortable with what we are doing. It could after all sound and look crazy to the rest of the world who would rather find solace in the soft comfort of their couches and lounging chairs. I remember a runner friend who was once asked by his father just what it is that he keeps chasing in the wind.
For me, the simple truth that we humans find joy in running was revealed when I chanced upon a mother and her two kids while I was on my way home from a run. The mother and her older child, a girl of about 5, were slowly running side by side. Behind them was a little kid of 3, chasing and laughing his heart out in joy.
There is perhaps no other natural activity that gives children as much joy as running. They learn to pick up things and throw them or use them to hit other things, but you seldom hear them ecstatically laughing doing that. But let them run, whether they are chasing you, chasing each other or chasing the dog. The wide grin, the sparkling eyes, the excited laughter. These would almost always be there.
When I was a kid, I remember a game I, my cousins and other kids in our neighborhood enjoyed playing. The game was called batin. It was a game of tag. Players were divided into two teams with a minimum of four or five kids each. Each team had a camp. Members of each team tried to catch members of the other team until the entire camp is captured and the game is won. Members of a group who were caught were kept guarded in the camp until they were touched and saved by a teammate. The game could last for hours without being won. And there was all the running - to chase and catch opponents, to avoid getting caught, to save a captured teammate. We ran unmindful of the distance or the time, conscious only of the fact that what we were doing was fun.
Yes, there is no doubt in my mind that we were meant to run. We were meant to be happy doing it. And not only as children. For where is it written in the rule book of nature that we can't be like kids at play even as we have moved up in age if the joy we find in that keeps us healthy and happily satisfied with life?
The photo above of children running and playing in the rain is from Zara Alexis: The Bibliotaphe's Closet.