There’s a lot of misinformation out there about running. Most of it spread by half-truths, consumer advertising, and non-runners. Here are 5 running myths debunked and discredited.
1. You must be skinny to be a runner.
Not true. Runners come in all shapes and sizes. Take a look at the almost 60,000 runners in the New York City marathon and you’ll see every body type under the sun. To be a runner, all you need to do is run. Granted, you may get skinnier as you run, but you don’t have to start out that way.
2. No pain, no gain.
Some people think you must hurt during every workout to make gains in fitness. Not true. If you’re feeling pain during your workout, you’re likely doing more damage than good.
Immediate pain is not your friend, it’s a sign of impending injury. General suffering caused by fatigue on the other hand, is something we go through to become better runners. Occasional hard days are required to make progress, but easy days and rest days are just as important.
3. Strength training will slow you down.
If you do some strength training exercises a few times a week, you won’t turn into the Incredible Hulk. What you will do is make your body a little more bulletproof and avoid muscle imbalances that lead to injury. Strength training leads to an increase in fast twitch muscle fibers. So, you’ll likely get faster, not slower.
4. Take water and energy gels every 30 minutes when running.
You don’t need to wear a flip belt, a holster full of water bottles, or a hydration pack every time you go for a run. Assuming that you are properly hydrated and haven’t skipped several meals, your body can easily sustain you for about an hour without any additional water or fuel. In fact, by withholding additional calories, your body will learn to burn fat and run more efficiently.
5. Carbo load the night before a race.
Carbohydrate loading can benefit runners before long endurance events where their glycogen stores may be depleted. The trick is to carbo load for 3-5 days before the event. A pasta dinner is a favorite among runners. But hold the sausage and go easy on the Parmesan cheese and Chianti.
If the race event is shorter than 90 minutes, carb-loading may hurt more than it helps. The additional calories and carbs may be delicious, but they aren’t going to help you through your next 5K. Instead, focus on drinking plenty of water.
You will hear people say many things about running. But, what matters most are the lessons you learn on your own. Every mile you run is the same distance, but an entirely unique experience. Fast, slow, easy or hard, cherish them all.
Jason is a competitive marathon runner and RRCA distance running coach. He's the senior editor at SaltmarshRunning.com, and writes for several online health and fitness publications. When he's not running on the roads and trails, Jason can be found enjoying life with his family and friends on the New Hampshire seacoast.
Main Photo Credit: Dejan Stanic Micko/shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit: Jaromir Chalabala/shutterstock.com; Third Photo Credit: GaudiLab/shutterstock.com; Fourth Photo Credit: Francesco83/shutterstock.com