7 shocking running myths
Running lies that everyone believes
Running is a popular sport that anyone can get involved in, so it’s no surprise that it comes with its fair share of myths and misconceptions. From health scares to kit mistakes, here are seven of the most commonly believed running myths.
You should stretch before you run
A series of static stretches is not an effective warm up for running, and could actually serve to increase your risk of injury. Once you think about this it starts to make sense – stretching cold muscles to their limit is bound to strain and cause damage. Instead of static stretches, you should be doing light cardiovascular activity as a warm up, such as walking or very slow jogging. This will warm up your muscles, thereby increasing flexibility more effectively and safely than static stretches ever will.
Taking time off from running is bad
Missing a day of training is not the end of the world, and certainly won’t ruin your progress. In fact, rest is hugely important for runners. Recovery is the key to running progress, as this is when your muscles strengthen and improve after your workout. Once you have reached a certain level of fitness it can be maintained relatively easily, which means the odd extra rest day here and there is not going to go amiss – especially if your body is telling you it needs it.
Running is bad for your joints
It’s a common misconception that the impact of running is bad for your joints. It’s easy to see why people think this, but luckily it isn’t true. There’s no doubt that runners can suffer injuries to their joints, but research has actually shown that running reduces the risk of osteoarthritis in the long term. Research carried out by Benjamin Ebert, M.D., found the evidence for this – the motions and exertions your body goes through when you run means that your muscles and joints actually adapt to the impact, delaying or preventing the onset of osteoarthritis.
Running shoes just need breaking in
Whilst it’s true that running shoes should be broken in slightly before being used in a race, this will not change the comfort of the shoes. If you’re trying on a pair of running shoes and they feel uncomfortable, do not listen to pushy sales assistants who tell you they just need ‘breaking in’. This is a common lie. Shoes suitable for you should be comfortable straightaway, and will be based on your running gait and requirements. Go to a specialist running shop and this won’t be a problem.
Running is all you need
Running is a fantastic sport for keeping you healthy and in shape, but it shouldn’t be the be all and end all of your fitness regime. If you want to make sure you avoid injuries then you’ll also need to incorporate some strength training into your routine, which will help to strengthen your legs and your core. As well as strength training, you also need to try different forms of cardio. Running without any other forms of cross-training can lead to overtraining injuries, so be sure to mix it up.
Carbo-loading is essential
We’re all familiar with the sight of a runner stuffing their face with more pasta than you thought was humanly possible the night before a race. Unless it’s a half or full marathon, then concentrated carbo-loading is not necessary and will not do you any favours for the race. Research published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology found that the most effective way to make use of carbohydrates is to integrate them into a person’s normal diet. This means you should gradually increase the amount of carbs you are eating in the weeks leading up to the race, rather than eating them all at once the night before.
Everyone can run a marathon
It’s often thought that the beauty of the marathon is that anyone can run one in a respectable time if they train properly. Sadly this is not the case. Whilst it’s true that most people can finisha marathon, your genes might be stopping you from getting a good time no matter how much you train. A study carried out at Loughborough University found that around 20 per cent of people do not have the right mixture of genes to train effectively for a marathon. People in this 20 per cent group had trouble with training due to the inability of their muscles to effectively extract oxygen.