You Should Always Stretch Before Running
You used to see runners begin a workout with a good static
stretch session (reaching down to touch your toes, for
instance), but research shows this type of stretching
before a workout doesn't provide any benefit. For
example, a March 2013 review in the ?Scandinavian Journal
of Medicine and Science in Sports? suggests static stretching
before a run may actually slow you down during your miles.
And according to Yale Medicine, it probably isn't helping
prevent any injuries.
Instead, doing a dynamic warmup before
a run is the way to go. Dynamic stretching "involves
performing gentle repetitive motions in a way that gradually
increases motion, circulation and muscle length,"
per Yale Medicine. "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."
2. You Should Eat
as Many Carbs as Possible Before a Race
The spaghetti dinner the night before a race is a great
time to socialize with fellow runners and fuel up for
the next day's event. But if you're eating big spaghetti
dinners every night leading up to a race, you're not doing
yourself any favors. Carbo-loading
helps fill up your muscles' stores of glycogen —
aka stored energy from carbohydrates. But sports-performance
coach Hannah Schultz, CSCS, says many people overdo it
before a race. "What people
need to understand is that the muscle tissue can only
hold so much glycogen," Schultz tells LIVESTRONG.com.
Anything above that is stored as fat. Schultz recommends
carbo-loading for a week before a marathon, increasing
your intake by 300 to 400 carb calories per day. For anything
less than a marathon, eating a healthy balanced diet will
3. Runners Don’t
Need to Strength Train
It used to be that runners just ran. But that won't lead
to better performance. Strength training builds the muscles
runners use most and can help improve performance and
decrease injury. A small April 2021 study in the ?American
Journal of Physical Anthropology? suggests having a strong
upper body is linked to better running efficiency. Plus,
a strong upper body aid in a strong arm swing, which helps
propel you as you run. And an April 2021 study in ?Medicine
& Science in Sports & Exercise ?suggests lower-body
strength — specifically in your glutes — is
important for sprinting, like when you're doing a track
workout or are running fast toward the finish line of
4. Running Barefoot
Barefoot, or minimalist, running took the running world
by storm, but it's been misunderstood in terms of its
practicality. In fact, it can increase the risk of injury
— like stress fractures, per the Cleveland Clinic
— for many people. "It's
just not really realistic, especially considering the
surfaces that we run on these days," Schultz says.
She notes that on the right surfaces — such as grass
— it has a place, but she concludes: "For most
people it's just too stressful on the body and on the
joints. "If you want to give
minimalist running a shot, try one of these minimalist
running shoes that have a much lower profile compared
to your typical cushioned running shoe.
5. Running Is Bad
for Your Knees
As a runner, you probably know this one's not true, but
you need to arm yourself with the information to combat
the myth when you hear it from your non-running friends.
While many people assume running
is damaging to your knees, a February 2017 study in Arthritis
Care and Research looking at a 10-year timeframe found
runners don't have an increased risk of developing knee
osteoarthritis compared with non-runners.
6. Muscle Cramps
Are Caused by Dehydration and Electrolyte Loss
It's true that being well-hydrated and having adequate
levels of the electrolyte minerals — sodium and
potassium are two major ones — is important for
your health and physical performance during a run. However,
if your legs start to cramp during a run, it's likely
not a hydration or an electrolyte issue. In
a June 2011 study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine,
researchers compared blood electrolyte and hydration levels
of two groups of Ironman triathletes: those who experienced
cramping and those who did not. They found no differences
and concluded that cramping was a result of increased
running speed, not dehydration or electrolyte losses.
7. Changing Your
Running Style Improves Running Economy
Although changing certain elements of your form may be
beneficial, especially if you're becoming injured frequently,
Schultz says the purported effects on running economy
— or how well a person uses oxygen while running
at a certain pace — are a myth. An April 2014 study
in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research assessed
a technique called Midstance to Midstance Running (MMR),
which emphasizes changes that shorten your running stride
length. Researchers concluded that MMR had no effect on
running economy. And, according
to a December 2019 review in Sports Medicine, changing
your running stride may actually slow you down (best case
scenario) or leave your injured (worst case scenario).
8. Running Outside
Has No Relation to Running on a Treadmill
Running outside and running on a treadmill are completely
different animals, right? Well, when it comes to scenery
and stimulation, that may be true; but in terms of the
mechanics of running, research shows there's not much
of a difference between pounding the pavement and pounding
the deck. A May 2019 review published in the journal Sports
Medicine found that your heart rate and oxygen intake
running outside and on a treadmill are just about the
same if you increase the treadmill's incline to 1 percent
to make up for the lack of air resistance indoors. With
that being said, you may want to run outside to get some
much-needed vitamin D. Plus, being outside in nature is
shown to boost mood and benefit your mental health, according
to the American Psychological Association (APA).
9. Taking a Few Days Off Will
Result in a Loss of Fitness
Most people who run do it because they love it, so taking
time off is not usually high on their list of priorities.
But not only can taking a few days off aid your performance,
it also won't decrease your fitness. It
takes about two weeks of not doing cardio exercise, like
running, to start losing cardio fitness, according to
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
And by four weeks, research — like this October
2019 study in Examines in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation—
shows you can lose up to 20 percent of your VO2 max (aka
your maximal oxygen consumption).
Not taking rest days, however, will affect your performance.
"You always want to make sure you recover more than
you actually think you need to," Schultz says. Your
body doesn't get stronger and faster during runs; rather,
improvements occur during recovery, when your body goes
to work repairing the damage done during your workout.
10. Running Is
Only for the Young and Fit
Maybe you're not a runner but wish you were. Well, stop
wishing and get out there! As long as you don't have any
medical conditions or injuries that prohibit it, you can
run. And you don't have to immediately
start running continuously either. Former Olympian, author
and coach Jeff Galloway's Run Walk Run method, which alternates
periods of walking with periods of running, is a great
way for beginners to get into running — they can
even work up to completing their first 5K, 10K or marathon.