6 Stoopid Running Myths That Need To Die ASAP
We hereby call bulls––t on these outrageous pieces of misinformation, codswallop and outright balderdash
MYTH #1: Running Completely Destroys Your Knees
This old chestnut is often parroted by run-phobics – “Running? Nah, mate. Effs your knees right up!" While it’s true that there are less knee-straining activities than repeatedly pounding your legs down onto pavement, no link has ever been found between running and knee osteoarthritis – that is, the irreversible wearing-away of knee cartilage.
As running myths go, this is the one we hear the most.
In fact, a study by Stanford University found that veteran runners’ knees were in no worse shape than those of similarly aged people who’d never been runners, while a study undertaken by the John Hopkins School of Medicine stated that “long-distance running might even have a protective effect against joint degeneration."
MYTH #2: You Should Stretch Before A Run
Nope, definitely not – not static stretching, anyway, which is where you hold a specific pose for between 15 and 60 seconds. At best, it’s pointless; at worst, it may actually make you a less effective runner.
A study by the University of Zagreb found that muscle strength was actually reduced by around 5.5% when athletes static-stretched before exercising, while a parallel study published in The Scandanavian Journal Of Medicine And Science In Sports came to similar conclusions.
But while static stretching is a counter-productive waste of time, warming-up is a must if you want to avoid twanging a muscle and having to perform the Hobble Of Shame home.
“If you’re not moving while you’re stretching, you’re going to be running with cold muscles," says elite personal-trainer Jonny Jacobs. “To warm a muscle effectively and reduce your chances of injury, you need to put it through a dynamic range. Simply walking around a bit can be sufficient."
MYTH #3: Long Runs Are The Key To Becoming A Better Runner
Clocking up endless miles, week in, week out, will obviously keep you pretty fit. But if you really want to upgrade your running skills, you need to look beyond super-long slogs.
As Jonny Jacobs advises, “If you want to become a better runner, you need to increase your cardiovascular fitness, muscular endurance and running economy – and to do that, you need to incorporate interval training and strength training."
Interval training involves short bursts of high-intensity activity followed by low-intensity recovery periods – in other words, you run as fast as you can, slow to a gentle jog while you catch your breath, then repeat. Fast slow fast slow, and so on.
Strength training, meanwhile, involves using weights or your own bodyweight to buff yourself up.
MYTH #4: It's Really, Really Bad To Land On Your Heel
Some runners insist that landing on your heel when you run is not only inefficient, but also places a terrible strain the knees.
To debunk the first point: a 2014 study published in Medicine And Science In Sports And Exercise found that runners who land on their rear foot are actually up to 9.1 per cent more economical than mid-foot strikers, and may be running up to one kilometre an hour faster.
And on the second point: a study by the University of Massachusetts found that while heel-strikers take on more force at the knee than mid- and forefoot strikers, they take on less force at the ankle.
Basically, you’re going to take a few knocks someplace, no matter how you run – so if landing on your heel works for you, you stick with it.
MYTH #5: You Should Load Up On A Bucket Full Of Pasta Before A Run
“Loading up on tonnes of carbs is not the way to go," says Jonny Jacobs. “There’s nothing worse than trying to run on a full stomach. Just eat your normal amount beforehand, so that you feel satisfied, but not stuffed."
And if you’re off out running for more than an hour, you’ll need to rely on more than merely carbs scoffed beforehand. “The body can store glycogen – the fuel you need to keep you going – for about 90 mins," says Jonny. “After that, you should consume something like an energy gel to help replenish your glycogen stores.
"For long endurance events such as marathons, your nutrition can actually be more important than your training."
MYTH #6: Barefoot Running Is The Future
Also known as minimalism or natural running, barefoot running involves running in either very thin-soled shoes, or no shoes at all.
While many barefoot purists proclaim it to be the true future of running – due to increased speeds and reduced risk of injury – it’s most definitely not for everyone.
“For runners who land on their forefoot, barefoot running can help with momentum," says Jonny Jacobs, “but not everyone has the same style of running – some people are much flatter-footed than others, and for them barefoot running may be excruciating.
“If you need more cushioning, you need more cushioning. There’s a pair of shoes out there that are right for you." For guidance on picking your perfect runners, take a look-see here.