I often hear many arguments put forward as to why someone doesn’t feel they can take up running. And to be candid, 99% of the time it’s utter nonsense! Now, of course there is absolutely no reason why someone HAS to take up running if they don’t want to. There are many other forms of exercise that would be equally beneficial. So a good reason for not taking up running is quite simply because it doesn’t appeal!
Connected to this are the myths I hear put forward by new runners, or those that (perhaps) have been ‘educated’ through YouTube.
In this post I want to address the top 5 myths I hear most often about running and to put the record straight!
New runners quickly discover that there is plenty of contradictory advice about running! And with so much conflicting information readily available, running can quickly become confusing. So let’s look at some of the most common myths, all of which have been debunked by proper research.
Myth 1 : Running will hurt my knees and will likely result in arthritis when I am older.
Fact 1: Running actually helps to prevent Osteoarthritis. There is growing evidence to show that recreational running can protect against the development of knee osteoarthritis. There is also evidence to suggest that even if you already have osteoarthritis, running may not make it worse, and could in some instances improve the associated symptoms. However, if you have joint issues / concerns then do not trust information you read on the internet!! This is because everyone is unique and it is impossible for me, or anyone else, to write something that will be guaranteed safe and applicable for YOU specifically. What you have just read is a general guidance note. What you should do is consult a qualified practitioner IN PERSON that can assess your situation, listen to your history and tailor the above general guidance to your specific situation. But don’t discount running – it MIGHT be helpful for you.
Myth 2 : I injured myself running because I didn’t stretch enough before I ran.
Fact 2: You should use DYNAMIC stretching not STATIC as part of your warm up routine. Research shows that static stretching does not reduce the risk of injury, and can actually impair performance. It will not assist in recovery post-exercise either, but may assist in joint mobility and importantly aid relaxation. Is it even worth stretching after a run? It is certainly worth cooling down properly and part of that can be some stretching. I will address this in another post – but for now be sure you didn’t injure yourself because you failed to stretch BEFORE you ran.
Myth 3 : I injured myself because I bought the wrong type of running shoe for my foot type and gait.
Fact 3 : Shoe type does not matter anywhere near as much as people tell you. There is minimal evidence to support that a particular shoe type is significant in recreational running, beyond the fact that it should be a good fit for your foot – but that is true of any footwear! There are a couple of points that are worth of note here though. Firstly whichever type of shoe you elect to run with then your body will adapt to incorporate it into your gait over the countless foot strikes that you will perform. That is part of adaption to training. Therefore it is important to not suddenly drastically change the type of trainer that you run in. For instance going from a big drop to minimal drop will change the loading and focus of your gait. This is a recipe for injury! Similarly running shoes wear out, they lose support and ability to provide correct cushioning. As they wear out you will become more prone to injury. Therefore it is important to monitor the life of your running shoes and change them when needed.
Myth 4 : I have been told to do high-rep, low resistance strength training to build ‘run specific’ strength because it is most similar to the activity of running
Fact 4 : High resistance strength training is better for runners. This is a really common misconception, and arises from the notion that our strength and conditioning training should closely mimic the sport we are conditioning for. When it comes to running, muscular endurance is developed during running, making endurance gym work a waste of time. What we can’t (easily) do whilst actually running is increase muscular strength. Therefore the focus of our strength and conditioning should be around heavy resistance work to increase muscle strength, which will not only increase performance but also materially reduce our chance of injury. Whilst talking about strength and conditioning, often runners are uncertain about how often to incorporate gym work; typically twice per week is a sensible benchmark. This may reduce to zero during the final peaking phase of a periodised training program in the final blocks before a race. But for general recreational runners – look at twice a week.
Myth 5 : If I want to run faster I have to develop a forefoot strike.
Fact 5 : Neither Foot strike pattern is necessarily better. The premise that forefoot strike will always increase running economy and reduces injury is false. It can do, in some situations, but it’s not a rule cast in stone. The bio-mechanics of the individual come into play, their running history plays a part and the type of running also determines this. It can be said that the type of injuries typically associated with a particular foot strike are different, there is no real evidence that incidence is reduced. By and large, in a typical gait for a typical person, then a mid-foot strike should be the most efficient way to run. HOWEVER, what is a typical person? A typical gait? And does this near Unicorn runner even exist? As a general rule heal striking can be a problem, but equally there are elite world class runners that heal strike. When it comes to strike pattern, with so much else in running, you really need to look at the runner as a complete package and not focus on isolated “wisdoms”. Evaluate what the individual, understand the purpose of change you are trying to make, then assess the levers you have that will effect that change. Make changes slowly.
Running is a whole body activity, performed by unique and individual bodies! Many factors will affect performance and therefore if there is one take away from this post it is to avoid isolated pearls of wisdoms or ‘running club myths’.
Cheerio – Ed