My running story started 25 years ago when my boyfriend (now husband) convinced me to go to a park to run. I struggled to run for 10 minutes straight but survived and even came back a few days later to see if I could run for 11 minutes. Over the years I’ve come across many myths about running and learned from my mistakes. Here are some of them.
MYTH 1: You need a certain body type to run
Anyone can run, just strap on some shoes and go…that is the beauty of running, anyone can do it.
MYTH 2: One brand of shoe is the best
My husband and I have never agreed on the best brand of running shoe. For a long time, I thought he was just trying to find a reason to tease me but after many years of this debate we finally discovered he has a very different foot than me, his is narrow and mine is wide with large arch. It was nice to find out that we were BOTH right for once. The best shoe for one person could be different for someone else.
MYTH 3: The most expensive running shoe is the best
You can drop enough money on running shoes to take your whole family out to a five star restaurant, but are those high priced shoes worth it? In my opinion “no”. The most expensive running shoes I ever bought gave me horrible knee pain. You should definitely not go with cheap shoes either as they won’t have enough impact resistance. What seems to work best for me are mid-price shoes. Be sure to try them on in the store (don’t buy online) to be sure they feel good on your feet. But really the only true fire way to know if they work for you is to run in them.
MYTH 4: People run to train for an event
I get asked all the time “what are you training for”. I’m not sure why people think you should only run if you are training but I run to stay fit and it helps me burn some stress. It is easy to lose momentum with your running if you aren’t training so be sure to commit yourself to a regular running schedule and it helps to find a running buddy who can keep you accountable.
MYTH 5: Once you have kids, you can’t run
The two best baby shower gifts I received were a running stroller and double running stroller with kid #2. I have been running with my kids since they were 4 weeks old, they are now 9 and 12. Running with kids has many benefits including instilling in them the importance of staying fit, something to do together and getting fresh air. I remember running a 5k when my kids were younger, they were riding along in the double stroller. It turned out to be my birthday. So my kids were screaming “go mommy go” and singing “happy birthday”. With a cheering crowd like that who could give up on that race!
MYTH 6: Running is all physical
One of the biggest hurdles with running is not physical condition but mental state. No matter how physically fit you are, if that inner voice says “you can’t do this” then your body will be convinced. Many days when I run that “can’t” word starts creeping into my thoughts so I do things to distract myself. Such as count my steps, sounds silly but it works. I’ll count forward, backwards, by 5’s, 2’s. I’ve also heard of people saying other things to themselves such as the names of their children, or trying to find a word for each letter of the alphabet. If in doubt then become the Little Engine That Could and repeat “Yes I can, yes I can” and before you know it your run will be over.
MYTH 7: Running makes you feel tired
When you are active your body produces endorphins, a hormone that makes you feel good and more energetic. I’ve tried many different types of activities and cannot find another activity that makes me feel as good as running, guess that’s why I’m hooked. I typically feel the endorphins or happy feeling the most about 30 minutes after my run and it can last most of the day. Expect to feel more endorphins the longer and harder you run.
MYTH 8: Stretching should be done before running
Recent research is indicating it is better to stretch after your muscles are warmed up. Either run for 10 minutes then stretch or stretch at the end of your run. I can agree with this research as you can feel the difference in stretching muscles that are cold versus those that have been warmed up. Warm muscles stretch better and it feels more comfortable. I’ve recently added hot yoga to my workout regime for this reason.
MYTH 9: Pain is bad
Pain can be a sign of injury but not always. It can be caused from many different things including the shoes on your feet, your running stride, surface you are running on, your level of fitness, muscle tension, and so much more. Some pains will go away over time. Such as when I first started running I’d suffer from piercing stomach cramps. Over time the cramps stopped occurring and I hardly ever get them now. Some pain can also tell you about your stride.
Pain is also a necessary part of getting stronger. In order for your body to build muscle you need to stress it enough to damage the existing muscle, the new muscle that grows back comes in stronger. In order to stress the muscle enough you have to experience pain, good pain that is. After some time of running you will learn from your body when you are having good pain and when it is bad. I always say “no pain, no gain”.
MYTH 10: Rest is for the weak
Actually rest is a key component in getting stronger. Your body needs time to rebuild muscle and recover, if you don’t give your body the time then you won’t get the benefits of the workout and will feel sluggish. You can also mix in some active recovery days of walking, light weights or a bike ride. Muscle soreness typically peaks at 2-3 days. I find running again at that time actually helps my recovery and helps reduce soreness, but not before that. Massage, stretching or a hot bath/shower helps relieve soreness and feels so good for aching muscles.
MYTH 11: Carb load before a race
Carb loading is the theory that eating extra carbohydrates before a big run will increase muscle glycogen stores and you will be able to tap into this store during a long run. I’ve got to admit here that my husband and I took this theory to the extreme once and tried to eat a bagel before a big race. Bad idea, don’t try it! I felt horribly bloated and like I was running with a brick in my stomach. A couple keys with carb loading is to eat more carbs for a few days before you need it and stick to complex carbs from potatoes, vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Be careful with the whole grains, as some whole grains can make you feel bloated. Stick with the whole grains you eat regularly and know how they react with your system. I prefer a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrate and vegetables the night before a big race, and stay with something I know settles well on my stomach. Stay away from the sugary drinks and deserts until after the race. It is also extremely important to drink as much water as possible 2-3 days before a big run especially if it is going to be hot. It is really hard to run and drink (no jokes here) and hard to drink enough when running to replenish the liquids lost, therefore you need to plan ahead.
Hope these busted myths will enhance your running journey.