At first glance, running seems pretty straightforward. All you need is a pair of trainers and to put one foot in front of the other, and – hey presto – you’ve got running sussed. But, dig a little deeper and you’ll soon discover that running isn’t so clear-cut. There’s lots of information about running, but not all of it is accurate. Here are some of the top misconceptions exposed.
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If you’re old or out of shape, running isn’t for you
There’s a common belief that you need to be young or in relatively good shape to take up running, but this isn’t the case at all. Anyone can try this activity, although it’s a good idea to speak to your GP first if you have any medical issues. Whatever your size, shape, age or current levels of physical activity, anyone can benefit from this exercise. Go at your own pace, however, and only do what you can manage until you build up your strength and stamina. Don’t feel that you’re cheating somehow by walking for a bit and then running – this is all good exercise.
There’s been plenty of debate about the benefits of stretching before a run, but new research suggests that it’s the type of stretch that you do that is important. Rather than static stretching (which can even impede performance), runners should focus only on dynamic stretches, such as leg swings and high knees, to promote optimum running ability.
Quantity is more important than quality
Many runners claim that racking up the mileage is the key indicator of success, but this isn’t true. It’s the quality of your running sessions that makes a difference rather than how much you do, or even how often. Quality runs focus on mixing things up a bit, so that you vary where you run, and alter the intensity. Consider running on the flat one time, then next time running with ascents or at a higher altitude, another on a different type of terrain such as sand, as well as short and speedy runs or longer, slower ones. Adding variety to your running sessions aids performance and avoids plateaus, plus it keeps your runs interesting.
Upper body strength is irrelevant
Your legs do most of the work when running, but that doesn’t mean to say you should ignore your upper body. Some people reckon that having a strong upper body isn’t important if you run, but, in actual fact, strength up top ensures you run with the correct form, posture and arm movements.
Expect your knees to suffer
Some people are put off running because they’ve heard that it damages your knees, but it’s time to quell this myth once and for all. Countless studies have proven that runners do not experience any higher rates of knee osteoarthritis compared to non-runners. In fact, running helps to strengthen the muscles and joints around the knees, even preventing injury. Where knee problems do occur in runners, it’s usually down to incorrect form or muscle imbalance rather than the act of running itself.
Running in bad weather makes you ill
Contrary to popular opinion, you won’t get ill if you run when it’s cold or wet outside. Viruses and bacteria make you ill, and you’re more likely to succumb to these if you stay indoors in a warm environment.