I always love dispelling a good myth.
Crazy ideas have always been around, but with the boom of the blogging and social media world, these ideas often spread like wildfire and are then believed to be the truth by many.
“All grains are bad for you.”
“The only way to get a tight and toned body is by eating tilapia and asparagus out of tupperware containers.”
“If you eat past the point of fullness you have an eating disorder.”
“The only way to improve your running pace is by drinking soda on your long runs.”
Okay, so I made the last one up. But I’m sure it’s been said somewhere!
While the internet can be a fascinating place that’s full of knowledge and an awesome community to connect with, it can also put a lot of incorrect ideas in our minds which can lead to wasted money, wasted time, wasted effort, or worse, an injury.
So today I’m here to clear the air on five of the biggest running myths. These are things I’ve heard countless times, and every time I hear someone speak of them like they’re the truth I cringe. Regardless of where you are in your running journey, I encourage you to take a look at whether or not these myths have affected you and what you can do to make yourself a stronger, happier, and healthier runner!
Before we get going, I put together a quick guide for those of you who are newer to running. It contains my top 10 tips for newbie runners, many of which you’ll find super helpful after these myths are dispelled! I’m confident that even those of you who consider yourselves to be seasoned runners will find these tips helpful. Grab them before you continue reading!
1. You need to stretch before you run.
Yes and no. The warm up is a crucial and often-overlooked component of a run; not only does it prepare us for movement physically, but it also helps us get in the zone mentally. What pains me is when I see runners performing static stretches before a run.
A static stretch is something like a quad stretch or a shoulder stretch. And while static stretching is important, it’s not the best way to prepare your legs to turn over multiple times during the course of a run. You want to allow your joints to move through their full ranges of motion with dynamic stretches such as leg swings and frankensteins. Dynamic stretches raise the temperature of the body, elevate the heart rate, allow the joints to produce all that cushiony synovial fluid, and they help loosen us up.
Sure, if your hips are feeling a little tight give ’em a quick stretch after you’ve done your dynamic warm up. But make it quick and save the long, relaxing stretches for afterwards.
2. Running is bad for your body.
You know what’s bad for your body? NOT MOVING IT. My philosophy is that the best form is exercise is the one you enjoy and are likely to stick with. For some that’s Zumba, for some that’s weight training, and for others it’s running.
There’s no doubt about it that our bodies take a lot of impact when we run. But many other forms of exercise have their own downfalls – baseball pitchers with dislocated shoulders, power lifters with torn ligaments, and the whole possibility-of-drowning thing while swimming. There is a risk associated with all forms of physical activity, and there is an ever bigger risk associated with no form of physical activity.
The key is to do your due diligence and take the precautionary steps to reduce the negative impact your activity of choice has on your body. Even running!
3. The only way to get better at running is by running more.
If you’re finding yourself struggling to breathe when you run for longer than 4 or 5 minutes, then sure – your cardiovascular fitness needs a bit of work. And running more can help improve that! But so can cycling, swimming, rowing, lifting weights, and dancing like a mad woman.
Hate hills and sprints with a passion because you feel like you can never complete them? There are certain strength training exercises that can help make those a liiiiittle bit easier. Do you REALLY want to do more sprints than necessary? 😉
Remember in point #3 we talked about doing our due diligence and not putting ourselves in a position where running is bad for our bodies? Incorporating other forms of training to improve your running (which is known as cross-training), is one of the things we can do!
4. Runners don’t need to strength train.
This. One. Kills me. I’m super fortunate for the fact that more and more runners are realizing the benefit (and necessity!) of strength training, but there are still a few die hard do-nothing-but-run-ers out there who still need convincing. Strength training is a critical component to any running program, regardless of the goals of the runner or the distances that are being covered.
Looking to tackle half or full marathons? Moderate strength training sessions will build the core stability required to reduce injury and the power output that will allow you to sprint up hills with ease and move like a gazelle. Those who are running to lose some weight will get a metabolism boost from their strength training efforts (and some muscle to show off as the bodyfat is shed!). And if stress-relief is your main reason for running, strength training will help you bulletproof your body against injuries so you can continue doing what you love.
5. I’m not training for a race so I’m not a runner.
People who run full marathons are runners. People who participate in 10k races are runners. People who run for pure enjoyment and don’t do any races are runners. People who are lacing up their shoes and getting outside for a 1.5 minute run and a 3.5 minute walk are runners.
Regardless of your reason for running, whether it’s to hit a new PR, to lose weight, to relieve stress, or just because you enjoy it – if your heart feels full when you get the chance to go for a run, then you’re a runner!