When talking with friends and reading running posts online you come across a lot of information that may not necessarily be true. The running myths may be popular conversation pieces when people talk about running, but it is good to know why some of these statements are false (especially ones that are just excuses!)
Running Myth #1: Stretch Before Your Run
Warming up and stretching have been an important part of physical activity for a long time. But some of the longest traditions may not always be the best thing for us runners. Recent research has indicated that static stretching (you know, the stretching where hold a position for a few seconds as your muscles stretch) may actually hinder performance.
So what are you supposed to do before a run? Definitely warm up and if you’d like to stretch make sure to do dynamic stretching, or stretching muscles through movement.
Running Myth #2: You’re Too Slow to Be a Runner
If you are expecting to be the next marathon record setter, you better realize that you are in for a lot of work. If you are looking to finish a marathon, half marathon or 5K – why does it matter how fast you are?
Most runners will run a race “recreationally”, competing against themselves, not others. When you start basing your success off of other people while running, you are in for disappointment. People start running at different times in their lives, using different schedules, developing different injuries, and have different recovery rates.
Your main competition is and should be you!
Running Myth #3: You’re Too Old to Start Running / Run a 5K / Run a Marathon
If you ever watch a marathon on TV (not many people do) you notice how young and in shape marathoners are. This is usually the more elite runners out there and does not show the breadth of people running the marathon. These people are of all background and most importantly across all ages!
So what age should you stop running? Well the oldest marathon finisher was about 100, so how about you aim for that! You are never “too old” to run any sort of race. Yes, you may not finish in the top 10 but there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to compete with proper training.
As always, it is important to clear any type of intense training with a doctor.
Running Myth #4: Running is Bad for Your Knees
I was definitely in this mindset when I first started running. I had an “old football injury” from high school which had removed most of the cartilage from my knee. I decided to run my first marathon only to find that my knee was throbbing after every long run.
Sure enough, I injured myself on mile 13 during my marathon and thought for sure that I was just not cut out for running because of my bad knees.
Boy was I wrong.
I’ve learned that not only is running not bad for my knees, it is actually GOOD for my knees if I make sure to run in proper form. My problem before was that I was a constant heel striker which caused unneeded impact on my knee joints.
After switching to my Vibram Fivefingers, I was able to re-learn how to run and have realized now that my knees feel stronger than they ever have before.
Running Myth #5: Speed Drills are Only for the Track
It is true that performing any type of speed drill in your training regimen is a little bit easier on a track (if you are tracking distances) however there are a variety of speed workouts you can perform just by running your normal route!
Take this one for example:
- For your normal mileage for that day, warm up by running for about 5 minutes
- Next, sprint for about 30 to 60 seconds (whatever you can handle)
- Next, jog for double the amount of time your sprinted (or until your heart rate lowers)
- Repeat multiple times throughout the run (this could be 4-5x or until the end of the run)
Easy enough and doesn’t require running around a track multiple times. Even if you are looking to do speed training utilizing distance rather than time, you can use route planning tools to help you plan out mileage along your normal route.
If you are looking for more running and exercise myths be sure to check out “Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?: Fitness Myths, Training Truths, and Other Surprising Discoveries from the Science of Exercise” by Alex Hutchinson, a great book filled with the science of exercise to make sure you are doing everything correctly and safely!
Have any myths of your own? Comment below!