BUSTED : 10 Myths & Facts of Running
Running is quite a simple sport. One can simply lace up a pair of running shoes and head out of the door. However, many myths and misconceptions about this sport have been doing the rounds since long. Following are some common myths and facts of running:
Myth #1: Running Damages the Knees.
Fact: The notion that running will wear out the knees is an age old belief and one of the commonest myths of running. But the fact of running is that it has been proven that the knee pain associated with running is most often a result of muscle weakness and imbalance, and not actual running itself.(1) Researchers investigated the differences in the progression of knee osteoarthritis among middle to older aged runners for over 20 years. They found that long distance running was neither related to increased incidence or severity of knee osteoarthritis. Another study showed that compared to non-runners, competitive runners seldom face higher rates of arthritis in their knees, ankles, or hips.(2)
Myth #2: One Should Stretch Before They Run.
Fact: It was believed that since runners are inflexible, it is essential for them to stretch their muscles before running. This too is one of the commonest myths of running. While this has long been a debatable issue for scientists, the general consensus is that static stretching is not the best way of starting a run.(3,7) Instead, the muscles should be warmed up with dynamic stretches to allow for better flow of blood. These stretches also help to elongate the muscles and increase the range of motion through movement.
Myth #3: Runners Do Not Walk.
Fact: This again is a commonest of all myths of running, but the truth is that runners do walk. In fact, a whole training methodology, which incorporates walking breaks, was created by Olympian Jeff Galloway.(4) He believes that by combining regular walking breaks with runs, the incidence of injury can be reduced and help the runner stay active for longer.(4)
One of the Popular Myths And Facts Includes the Belief That a Person is Not A Runner Unless They Run For a Particular Distance at a Specific Pace.
Fact: One does not need to run a marathon or a 7-minute mile to call themselves a runner. Pace or distance does not define who is and who is not a runner. Anyone who runs is a runner.
Myth #5: Runners Have A Particular Body Type; Is Another Addition to the List of Myths and Facts of Running.
Fact: But the fact is that people of all ages, sizes and shapes are runners. It is just that people with regular running practice or those who work out well may have a well-toned physique. But a person of any body type can simply participate in the next local race to surely find a co-runner who looks just like them.
Myth #6: Only the People Who Race are Runners.
Fact: This is a myth, as not every runner likes to race. The fact is that some runners just enjoy having a goal or a challenge in running and hence participate in a race; while others enjoy the pure simplicity of the run as a part of their fitness plan or having fun.
Myth #7: Runners Do Not Need To Strength Train. This is One Of The Commonest Myths Of Running.(7)
Fact: Those who wish to improve their running need not only focus on running. In fact, strength training plays a prime role in boosting performance and preventing injury when running.(5,6) Strength training can not only improve the power output of the muscles, giving the runner a stronger finishing kick, but it can also address muscle imbalances, which can lead to injury.
Myth #8: Runners Do Not Need Strong Upper Bodies.
Fact: This is one of the myths of running that needs to be busted. While a person runs with their legs, the upper body plays a vital role in running too. As the runner begins to tire, the first thing that deteriorates is their form. A strong and sturdier upper body helps them maintain a good running posture and correct arm swing during their run.(8) Thus, for overall health; strong upper bodies are equally important for runners.
Myth #9: Taking A Few Days Off Would Hurt A Runner’s Fitness. This is a Myth of Running By All Means.
Fact: The fact is that body needs rest for healing in the normal course, so in fact a day off from running can rest the muscles and actually improve performance of a runner. Also, if one needs to take a few days off from training, whether due to injury, illness or other life events, they should do so without second thoughts. They should not think that all their efforts would get wasted and neither should they worry about losing their cardiovascular fitness. For health and injury reasons, it is necessary to follow medical advice for better recovery. Once runners resume their running, they can gradually progress to their original running speed/levels based on their fitness levels and health condition.
Myth #10: Runners Can Eat Anything They Like. This is One of the Myths of Running That Can Affect the Health and Fitness of Runners.
Fact: People are often advised to fill themselves with carbohydrates before a race. But just because one will be running a marathon, does not mean that they can eat anything they like. They should rather make sure that they get all the nutrients, which are needed for nourishing their body so that they can perform well. For those planning to run in a race can seek advice from a nutritional expert too.
It is necessary that all are aware of these myths and facts of running so as to take the right decision and enjoy running with all its benefits.