For a sport that seems so simple, running sure is complicated. The training, the fueling, the gear, the injury prevention strategies – it’s a lot to take in. Unfortunately, with so much information on the sport, there are also plenty of misconceptions out there, too.
For example, do you think you’re too old to take up running? Think again. There are plenty of people who don’t try the sport until their golden years and still go on to run marathons.
Here are the truths behind five common running myths:
Myth #1: Running is bad for your knees.
Reality: There probably isn’t a runner out there who hasn’t heard this one before! Lucky for us this is an outdated belief. In reality, running may actually protect your knees from health problems, such as degenerative knee issues. A runner’s risk of knee injuries is only increased when he or she has had previous knee trauma or had a family history of knee problems.
Myth #2: If you run in the rain or the cold, you’ll get sick.
Reality: False. You have to be exposed to a virus or bacteria to get sick. The reason so many people get sick during the winter months — regardless if they run or not — is because we spend more time indoors within close proximity to each other, making it easier to spread germs. In fact, fit people get fewer colds than people who don’t work out (find out other ways running does your body good). However, it’s a good idea to change out of your wet clothes and get warm as soon as you come in from a cold or wet run.
Myth #3: You need to run at least one 20-miler as part of marathon training.
Reality: Not so, say certain coaches. The Hanson brothers’ marathon plan has runners peaking with a long run of 16 miles (the overall weekly mileage is on the higher side though), and plenty of people go on to PR using this method. However, most marathon training plans call for at least one 20-miler but it’s not necessarily required to finish the race.
Myth #4: You need to eat pasta or “carbo load” the night before a race.
Reality: There’s no reason to carbo-load unless you eat that way normally. Just stick to the same type of meals you’ve eaten before your long runs throughout training. If that means pasta, then eat it. If that means Chinese food, that works too. Just eat whatever has been working for you and you’ll be good to go.
Myth #5: I’ll lose my running fitness if I skip a few runs.
Reality: According to the Hansons Marathon Method, you can take up to 6 days off from running without losing significant fitness. After 7-10 days off, your body starts to lose some physiological gains you’ve earned. After two weeks without running, you lose about 3-5 percent of your hard-earned physiological gains. And after three weeks off, your fitness declines by 10 percent. Still, it’s important to take plenty of time off from running if you have an injury, for instance. No matter how much time you take off, keep in mind that the body has an excellent memory. It will take time to get your endurance and speed back but you will get there with proper training.
Share your favorite running myth below!
Written by Jen Matz.