A man runs across by a lake with a sunset in the background

5 Running Myths Debunked

There’s nothing better than feeling the wind at your back as you reach your stride. If you aren’t a runner currently, consider adding it to your fitness regimen. Running is a great way to get your heart pumping and reduce your risk of various diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. Keep these debunked myths in mind to overcome initial obstacles and make the most of your training.

Myth #1: Running Damages Your Knees

Many think that the continuous jolts to your legs resulting from your feet making contact with the pavement (or the treadmill) put too much stress on the knees, ultimately damaging the joints. However, a 2016 study showed that athletes experienced less inflammation in their joints after a 30-minute run than they did after sitting still for 30 minutes. In fact, if you have no pre-existing injuries, running can help your joints stay in good shape as you age. To prevent any issues from overtraining, take recovery days between workouts and always warm up before you run.

Myth #2: You Need to Carbo-Load Before a Race

Your body converts carbohydrates into glycogen, a type of energy that stores up in the muscles. It’s common for runners to eat a big bowl of pasta the night before a race to increase their stores of this energy source. However, your muscles can only hold so much glycogen, and heavy carbs can upset your stomach. Instead, eat an extra 300 calories of carbs per day for a week leading up to the race, and opt for foods you ate during training to avoid queasiness. Keep in mind: increasing your carb intake before a race is only necessary if the run will last for over two hours.

Myth #3: Strength Training Isn’t Important

You might think that strength training isn’t necessary for runners, but in reality, everyone can benefit from pumping iron. Strength training every week can help runners improve their form and avoid injuries. While building muscle in all parts of your body is important, runners can benefit most from exercises that focus on the legs and core. If you’re new to strength training, try this workout specifically made for runners.

Myth #4: You Need to Hold Stretches Before You Run

Stretching might seem like it warms up your muscles and primes you for a great run, but in reality, static stretching (holding a position for multiple seconds) before a workout can hinder your athletic performance. Instead, opt for dynamic stretches that gently warm up the muscles while increasing blood flow, like lateral swings and side lunges. Static stretching is best saved for after your workout when it can help you release tension from your tired muscles.

Myth #5: Sports Drinks Are Necessary After a Workout

Sports drinks can replenish lost electrolytes and keep you hydrated, but they’re really only beneficial after a workout lasting an hour or more. Some researchers even claim that there’s a better alternative to sports drinks on the market: chocolate milk. This delicious, childhood staple has a high water content to help you rehydrate, protein to help your muscles recover, carbohydrates to give you energy, and calcium to promote bone health.

Whether you’ve been running for years or just a few days, CHI St. Luke’s Health Run Club offers free training guides to help you reach the finish line! If at any point during your exercise you feel a sharp pain or a pinching sensation, stop working out immediately and schedule an appointment with a Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group sports medicine physician to avoid potential injuries and improve your performance. No matter your goals, we’re here to help you get the most out of your run!

Sources:
Active | 10 Common Running Myths Debunked
LiveStrong | 11 Myths About Running Debunked
Mental Floss | 8 Common Myths About Running, Busted
Runner's World | Should I Stretch Before or After Running?
Shape | Exactly Why Chocolate Milk Has Been Called "The Best Post-Workout Drink"
Runner's World | 5 Dynamic Stretches to Do Before Every Run