Running is one of the most popular forms of exercise. It doesn’t require much equipment, it’s easy to pick up (everyone knows how to run) and a great excuse to get some fresh air.
But with popularity comes misinformation.
There’s a lot of hearsay floating around the internet — ranging from how to become a better runner to the effects of running on your body. So whether you’re lacing up for your first run or your first ultramarathon — here are some tall tales about running that you should throw out the window.
Myth 1: Running is bad for your knees
Because running is a high-impact sport compared with swimming and biking, it’s not a stretch to believe that older people or those with knee injuries should avoid running. However, new research has actually shown the opposite: Running is actually good for your knees and can prevent joint injuries in the future.
In fact, there is less inflammation in your knees after completing a 30 minute run than there is after 30 minutes of sitting still. Bad knees are usually a result of weak hips, tight or improperly stretched muscles, or overuse.
Myth 2: The farther you run, the more fit you are
Many people assume that “real” runners are the ones who run marathons and log endless kilometres every week. But like so many things, quality is always better than quantity, and distance does not directly equate to fitness.
To maximise the benefits of running, avoid sticking to the same low-intensity jog every day. Switch up your routine with a combination of long runs and speed workouts, which as we’ve discussed increase your speed and burn more calories.
A varied routine is also sure to alleviate some of the boredom that comes with running, which makes it easier to increase your frequency.
Myth 3: You MUST stretch before you run
For generations, parents and P.E. teachers have nagged children to stretch before they exercise. But lo and behold, that’s not quite necessary.
Studies have shown that stretching provides zero benefit to your run and in some cases increases the chance of an injury. Muscles require an increase in temperature and activity to become flexible and “loose.”
Next time, skip your pre-run stretch and save it for after you’re done with the workout, which is when stretching really becomes essential.
Myth 4: Eating a lot of carbs is good before a run
Unless you are planning to run for more than two hours, there is no need to increase your carbohydrate intake. And even then, carbs should be taken in moderation and gradually included into your diet at least two weeks before the big run.
The truth is, your body is already equipped with the carbs it needs to provide energy for a 5K or 10K run. Adding more to your system will simply cause stomach problems and cramping, which will ultimately just slow you down. Just another reason to stick with physical trainers who are also practiced in nutritional planning.
Myth 5: You can skip the gym
With all that running you’re doing, there’s no reason to hit the gym for some weight…right? Wrong.
Research has shown that it’s crucial for runners to incorporate strength training into their routine if they want to maximise the results. Strength training not only helps build running muscles, but it also leads to a leaner physical frame, which makes running easier.
When combining a lot of cardiovascular work with weights, focus on multi-joint body-weight exercises like squats, pushups and lunges for the biggest gains in running efficiency.
Myth 6: The shoe makes the difference
There are thousands of running shoes on the market, and a visit to your local sportswear store will introduce you to a “best and latest” model every time. However, although each of them claims to be the most lightweight, or the most innovative in support or design, research has shown that the best running shoes for you are the ones you’re most comfortable in.
In fact, there’s no direct correlation between running shoes and running performance. So if you’re struggling to run, focus on your form and your training — not your shoes!
With these running myths debunked, planning the most effective run just became a lot easier. For many more nuggets of exercise wisdom, contact BodyScene today and get a personalised fitness programme to best suit you and your fitness goals!