10 Well-Spread Fallacies About Running

Whether you have been running for years or a new member to the club, you might have some questions. The big amount of information that there is about running makes the existence of myths something inevitable.

In this article, we will be revealing 10 of the common myths about ‘running’ that people have believed for years.

1- Before Running You Have To Do Some Stretches

It’s very common that many runners start off their exercising with a static stretching session (examples: pushing a wall, extending arms behind the back…). Though, researches have shown that such prior-workout stretches are of no benefit.

In March 2013, the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports states that the static stretches done before running could cause one to slow down while running. Besides, according to Yale Medicine, it doesn’t prevent potential injuries.

A dynamic stretch, however, is the appropriate warmup before going for a run. To Yale Medicine, dynamic stretching “involves performing gentle repetitive motions in a way that gradually increases motion, circulation and muscle length. When these replicate the activity that you are about to perform, such as running, they allow the muscles to stretch and the blood flow to those areas to be optimized.”

A study conducted -in 2015- by The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research shows that dynamic stretches (warmups) are good for increasing running endurance.

If you are wondering about what dynamic warmups to do, here are some examples: calves’ raises, swings, lunges, walking knee to chest, etc.

2-The More Carbs Eaten Before A Run The Better

Having a pasta dinner with the family or friends a day prior to your marathon is good for your mood and could fuel you up for the occasion. Yet, if you have been eating pasta dinners for a long time before the race, that won’t do you good.

Yes, consuming big quantities of carbohydrates increases glycogen in your body, which helps store energy in it. But that shouldn’t be overdone.

Coach Hannah Schultz, CSCS says that “what people need to understand is that the muscle tissue can only hold so much glycogen”. To her, what is beyond that is going to be accumulated as fat. What the coach recommends for increasing one’s intake by 300-400 carbohydrates a day is to carbo-load during the 6-7 days before the race. Apart from races/marathons, balanced food will be good.

3- Runners Do Not Need Weight Training

It was believed that runners needed nothing but running. The truth is: that will not make the performance any better. In addition to building muscles, weight training improves performance and reduces injuries.

A study published – on April 2021 – by National Center for Biotechnology Information concludes that when the upper body is strong, running is likely to be more efficient. Moreover, the strong upper body results in more powerful arms’ swings, the thing that aids in pushing you forward while running.

In parallel, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise publishes a study (April 2021) that shows strong lower body { gluteus muscles, to be specific } is required for running at full speed, like when you are approaching a marathon finish line.

4- Shoeless Running Minimizes Injuries

Minimalist running has gained so much attention in the domain of running, but – practically – not well understood. Reality is, barefoot running can lead to injuries such as stress fractures and calf strains.

Discussing the ‘barefoot running reduces injuries’ idea, Schultz says that “it’s just not really realistic, especially considering the surfaces that we run on these days.” She mentions that if the surface that we are running on is good {grass for instance} it could be okey. BUT, “For most people it’s just too stressful on the body and on the joints.”

5- Running Harms The Knees

If you are a runner – or even one who does some runs every now and then – you would know that this is wrong! Yet, knowing the info this article discuses would be helpful, especially when arguing with non-running guys.

While some laymen still assume that running is harmful for the knees, researches seem to prove the opposite. A study published by National Center for Biotechnology Information which studied a timeframe of 10 years concludes that people who run have a reduced risk of suffering from knee osteoarthritis in comparison to those who do not run.

6- Electrolyte Loss And Dehydration Cause Muscle Cramps

It’s obvious that having a good body hydration and a sufficient level of electrolytes (especially potassium & sodium minerals) is required for a good health and a better physical performance. Yet, if it happens that you start to have some cramps issues while running, it’s not automatically hydration-or-electrolyte-related.

A research paper published – June 2011 – by the British Journal of Sports Medicinestudied levels of hydration and blood electrolyte of 2 groups of triathletes; the ones who have suffered form cramps and the ones who haven’t. result was: NO DIFFERENCES. The conclusion they came to is that cramps were not a result of electrolyte loss or dehydration, but rather of increased speeds in running.

7- Running Economy is Improved by Changing the Running Style

Regardless of the probable benefit of changing some elements of one’s form, particularly those who frequently get injured, the alleged running economy effects according to Schultz are but a myth.

The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research published a study in 2014 assessing the MMR method (Midstance to Midstance Running) that puts emphasis on changes which shorten one’s stride length. The study concludes that MMR does not affect running economy at all.

Besides, according to a Sports Medicine review (2019) the fact of changing one’s running stride could cause one to slow down or – worse – leave them injured.

8- There Is A Big Difference Between Running Outside and Running On A Treadmill

Is it true that there is no relation between outside running and treadmill running?

If stimulation and scenery are considered, then yes, that could be right. However, when it comes to running mechanics, studies have shown that there is no big difference between the two.

According to a study published – May 2019 – in the Sports Medicine journal, oxygen intake and heart rate when running outside or running on treadmills are approximately identical if the treadmill’s incline is increased by 1% (as a compensation for the air resistance absence)

Though, if you are thinking about having some vitamin D, you may need an outside open-air’ running. Furthermore, running in nature has been proved to benefit mental health as well as increasing the mood (shows American Psychological Association).

9- Taking Some Time Off Leads To Fitness Loss

If you ask a runner why he/she runs, possible answer would be because they love it. Differently said, taking long days off is not always a priority of theirs. Yet, having a rest can benefit your performance without decreasing your fitness (as purported).

To the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, starting to lose cardio fitness takes around 2 weeks of not exercising cardio, like running. And after one month  – as has been shown by the Examines in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation‌ study – 20% of your VO2 can be lost.

On the contrary, not having days off affects performance. Schultz mentions that “you always want to make sure you recover more than you actually think you need to.” The body does not get stronger or faster while running, rather it improves at the time of recovery, when it starts to repairs the damage left by the workout.

10- Running Is Exclusive To Young And Fit People

If you are not a runner, probably you always wish you were. Wrong! Don’t wish anymore, and put on your trainers; if you keep making excuses, you’ll always find a couple of them. Bottom line: if you are not suffering from any serious injuries or medical issues which forbid running, you can absolutely do it.

Besides, it’s not necessary you start the running continuously right from the beginning.

Run Walk Run method of former Olympian and coach Jeff Galloway – that switches from running to walking in a predetermined period of time – can be very good for beginners.