Running is a pretty simple sport. Lace up a pair of running shoes and head out the door. But peel back the layers, and you’ll find many myths and misconceptions about the sport.
What’s true and what’s false? We take a look at 10 common running myths.
Running will ruin your knees.
I’ve heard every iteration of this myth, especially from my mother. After two knee surgeries, I can understand why she might be concerned. But should she be? The short answer is no. Knee pain associated with running is most often caused by muscle imbalance and weakness, not running itself. She should be worried if I don’t perform my physical therapy exercises religiously!
You should stretch before you run.
The old way of thinking was that since runners are notoriously inflexible, they need to stretch and warm up their muscles before running. While scientists have gone back and forth on this issue, the general consensus is that static stretching is not the best way to start your run. Instead, get your blood flowing and warm up your muscles with dynamic stretches. They help to elongate your muscles and increase range of motion through movement. Think high knees, butt kicks and leg swings.
Runners don’t walk.
Well, actually, they do. In fact, Olympian Jeff Galloway has created a whole training methodology that incorporates walking breaks. He believes that mixing regular walking breaks into your runs, will help reduce the incidence of injury and help you stay active longer.
You’re not a runner unless you run this pace (or distance).
False. If you run, you’re a runner. You don’t need to run a 7-minute mile or a marathon in order to call yourself a runner. Distance or pace doesn’t define who is and who isn’t a runner.
You’re not a runner unless you have this body type.
False again. People of all ages, shapes and sizes are runners. Just go to your next local race. You are guaranteed to see someone who looks just like you.
You’re not a runner unless you race.
If you run, it means that you’re training for a race, right? Why else would you lace up your shoes day in and day out? The truth is that not every runner likes to race. Yes, some enjoy having a goal to work towards—and the bling that comes along with it. But others just enjoy the pure simplicity of the run.
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Runners don’t need to strength train.
If you want to improve your running, you should focus on running, right? Wrong. In fact, strength training is key to boosting performance and preventing injury. Strength training will not only improve the power output of your muscles, giving you a stronger finishing kick, but it will also address muscle imbalances that may lead to injury.
Runners don’t need strong upper bodies.
While we may run with our legs, our upper bodies play an important role too. As you start to tire, the first thing to deteriorate is your form. A strong upper body helps you maintain good running posture and correct arm swing.
Taking a few days off will hurt your fitness.
If you have to take a few days off from training, whether due to illness, injury or other life events, do you immediately think that all the miles you’ve logged have gone to waste? Are you worried that you’ll lose your cardiovascular fitness? Recent studies have shown that there is little decrease in VO2 max over the first 10 days of inactivity in trained athletes. If you need a rest day, take it. Take the time to recover when sick or injured. It’s not the end of the world.
Runners can eat anything they want.
We’ve all heard the advice that you should carbo-load before a race. But just because you’re running a marathon or even a 5K, doesn’t mean that you have a license to eat everything under the sun. You want to make sure you are getting the nutrients you need to nourish your body so that it can perform well.