Through scientific research, there have been many advances in the knowledge surrounding competitive and recreational running; however there are a number of old myths that still influence people’s performance and can increase risk of injury. Here we expose 5 of the myths out there that need to be shattered in order for you can get the most out of your running performance.
Any shoe will do – While you do not need to spend hundreds of dollars on a pair of joggers that make you feel like you are walking on clouds, it is important that you exercise in a shoe designed for running rather than any old ‘sand shoe’. The right running shoe will provide you with comfort and support when running on both hard and soft surfaces. Goodrunningshoe.net recommends going to a sport shoe specific store (i.e. The Runner’s Shop) when looking for a good pair of joggers. The shop assistant will be able to test your foot type to see whether it is neutral, overpronates or supinates. From there you should compare brands (and prices) to see which one feels best and if need be once you have got the information you need, go and look elsewhere to find the same shoe, but cheaper.
Running mechanics does not matter – Many people think that the running mechanics you have is what you were born with and you cannot learn a new technique. This myth is wrong and you can, in fact, improve your running mechanics and therefore improve your running performance. The landing forces when running can be 3 to 5 times the body weight of an individual, so it is important to have decent running technique. Correct running mechanics will make you more efficient, allowing you to run faster without using excessive amounts of energy, and minimising physical fatigue. Running coaches suggest running on your forefoot rather than heel striking and recommend looking towards the horizon rather than at the ground, as this reduces stress on the body and lessens mental fatigue.
Higher mileage is better – The myth that higher mileage is better is somewhat of a ‘half myth’. High mileage (approximately 70 miles per week) can improve running mechanics and technique, but it can also increase you risk of injuries and therefore, for most runners high mileage is not a good idea. If you are someone who suffers from running injuries you need to way up whether the benefits from doing long distance is worth the risk of increased injury.
Slow, longer runs are best – Again, this is more of a half myth. Slow, long distances are great for building up physical, as well as mental endurance and if this is what you want to develop then continue to run slow, long distances. Speed, power, strength and neuromuscular conditioning is developed from higher intensity workouts, therefore if you want to improve these areas within your running performance it is best to include intervals in your training regime. Research from the University of Guelph has found that short bursts of high intensity exercise followed by low intensity recovery increases metabolism and weight loss results, this is an added benefit to interval training if losing weight is a goal of yours.
Runners do not need weight training – It was long thought by runners and coaches that increased muscle mass, through strength training, would hinder running performance and decrease speed, however research over the last two decades has shown that weight training has the opposite effect. Strength training has been found to improve injury resistance, running strength, muscle elasticity and running economy. Vertical loading of the body through weight training can help improve posture as well as lower body strength. Squats or lunges (with or without external weights) are a great way to develop the glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves. The connective tissue in the hips, knees and ankle joints will also benefit from a simple exercise such as squats by strengthening the kinetic response in both propulsive and shock-absorbing movements.
Talanian, JL. The journal or Applied Physiology(2006), http://jap.physiology.org/cgi/reprint/01098.2006v1.pdf