Questions & Answers

The Perfect Runner on CBC's The Nature of Things with David Suziki

Air Times

CBC-TV Thursday @ 8 PM

CBC News Network Thursday @ 10 PM ET/PT

CBC News Network Sunday @ 6 PM ET

The Perfect Runner celebrates the modern love of long-distance running by exploring our evolutionary past as a species defined by its ability to run.


Answers and Replies


Hey Damien!

I'll be recording the show for a friend who is out of city for professional training. I promised her I would make a DVD for her. PM me I am sure we can work something out. 8:-)


BF Luc


Once again they fail to deliver. The program flirts around the bare foot issue but refuses to come right out and say modern shoes are bad. There is the odd comment about it but that is quickly followed by our host running..... in shoes. Much discussion about how Ethiopians grew up farming and running in bare feet but once they train for the big times they do it in shoes. At some points there were so many new shoes and colourful running suits moving through the Ethiopian landscape it looked like an ad for Addia's. This was program about how much endurance we have but curiously no mention of the Tarahumara Indians and their ability to run long distances with little training and wearing Huraches... they sure did not want to alienate viewers or advertisers in anyway.


You are correct in all your points but I felt they always juxtaposed these statements or even few barefoot segments with shod images. The point is though this was not a show about barefoot vs shod so I should not be so picky. I did not know about persistence hunting and being able to chase after a galloping animal until it over heated. I also did not no a 3 year old could smoke with such panache (I was shocked that scene did not hit the cutting room floor).

Oh and as much as the claim was for humans as runners I have never felt I was built to run. More like built to bear weight. The barefoot mule (easy now)


Was shocked to see how good the 3 years old was at dishwashing, when I saw the 3 years old smoking my jaw dropped to the floor.

When I was doing lotta endurance sport I was able to keep my weight low. I then surely look more like a runenr than I do now. Now when I say I was playing on the defensive football (american) team everyone seems to think I was playing on the line or the secondary. Do not know why no one's guessing I was a corner back. lol

I guess we both should not forget that we're built for endurance running. In endurance the mule might go longer. 8;-)


Looks like we have not seen the documentary with the same point of view. In reference to the documentary flirting around the bare foot issue but refusing to come right out and say modern shoes are bad. I am not agreeing on this.

-From web page we got this:

See how one of North America’s leading sports scientists – Dr. Larry Bell – is training Canada’s Olympic hopefuls by drawing from the “natural running” lessons he learned in Africa. Learn why in Ethiopia, poverty and a childhood on the farm are indispensable ingredients in the success of some of the world’s greatest runners.

Finally understand the science and sport of barefoot running. Meet Harvard’s “barefoot professor” – Dr. Daniel Lieberman – the father of the barefoot running movement, and learn how running was key to the evolution of modern humans. In a pioneering study of running biomechanics, Lieberman has shown how modern running shoes encourage a running style humans were never evolved to withstand, and which likely underpins the epidemic in running injuries we see today.

-And here are some quotes from the documentary:

1st time I went to Ethiopia I saw that were competing barefoot. Their feet were strong and supple. They all were strong and natural runners. I changed my focus. Later on he said: runners wearing shoes all have weak feet. [Dr Larry Bell University of Alberta]

And then the narrator of the documentary is saying: Our over cushioned shoes are meant to protect us, instead they’re hurting us. They rob us of a natural spring of our feet and legs. Maybe that’s why in Bekoji ( poverty is the runner’s greatest advantage?

Later on while seeing the elite of Ethiopian runners the narrator is saying: Feet that grew and developed without protection. Now they run in shoes but they got here barefeet. We aren’t different.

Dr Daniel Lieberman explaining the adaption for running is surely showing it’s hard for a shoe to not mess with some of our finest assets (arch, calf…) for running. Also the demo he is doing with Niobe Watson running - in regular shoes and in VFF - is saying a a lot, no?

Also, in reference to not mentioning Tarahumaras. I think this documentary is Niobe Watson’s anthropologist point of view on the subject. For my part, never read, heard or saw a coverage with that level of details about the traditional living of those Siberian folks. I am happy they covered something different this time.

Have fun running barefoot or not! 8:-)


I just finished watching it with the family. Overall I would say it was pretty good. Nothing too groundbreaking, but a good summary of the humans-designed-to-run research. While the focus was mostly on running, it definitely made the case that barefoot/minimalist caused less injury.

I liked the focus on the diverse running cultures. I also liked the fact that they stated that we are designed to be in a constant state of movement - that not moving (i.e. being chained to an office chair) is the path to problems.

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