Running myths that need busting

Naked Foot 5k 300x225 Running myths that need bustingEvery niche has urban myths that stick with it for years on end. I can remember growing up–on a lake no less–and my parents preventing me from swimming after eating for at least an hour. It was cruel torture, let me tell you. The thinking behind it? You can cramp, and then presumably drown. Today, of course, we know better. I, and my kids, will jump right into the water within minutes of eating and we’re just fine.

More than likely, that myth had already been dispelled by the time I was a kid, but as humans, we like to hold onto these things long after the expiration date, don’t we? That is certainly the case with running. Yesterday, a non-running neighbor (it’s always the non-runners who have the opinion, right?) started spouting off about how running on concrete surfaces was harder on the body than blacktop or tracks. I am no good at holding my tongue for the sake of peace when something is blatantly wrong like this, so I piped up. Rather than the surface being important on impact, it’s the way a runner lands or doesn’t land  that sends the most shockwaves through the body. Yet here we are, holding onto that false concept well after it’s been disproven.

A few more of these myths that drive me bananas:

  • Pronation is bad and should be corrected. I’ve spouted off on this one before and how that whole idea stems from shoe companies looking to sell us an expensive shoe.
  • We need to drink before we are thirsty, especially in long events. I just finished writing an article on this for the Daily Burn, and quite the opposite is true. We need to drink to thirst, not override that inherent signal our body sends us. Overdrinking, or hyponatremia, can be far more detrimental than a bit of dehydration.
  • Inflammation is the enemy. Not always the case. With an acute injury, like an ankle sprain, yes, you want to get on top of excessive inflammation. But in the case of something that is chronic, inflammation is actually part of your body’s healing response and anti-inflammatory treatment might hinder this healing. And sometimes–like with most chronic tendon injuries–it’s actually tissue degeneration, not inflammation, that is the problem.

Those are just a few that come to mind, but I know there are others. What running myths drive you crazy? 

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  1. Great post! I don’t know if this is a myth but I was always told, again by nonrunners, that running as we get older is bad for you. Exercise should be low impact as we age. I know they are full of shit!
    Kristina Walters @ Kris On Fitness recently posted..Post Half Marathon Confusion/Goals & New Blog IdeasMy Profile

  2. The #1 running myth that drives me insane is that it’s bad for your knees. It’s one of the first things that always pops up when a nonrunner hears RUNNER. Being inactive is bad for your knees, too, so I guess we’re all screwed.
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..Take NoticeMy Profile

  3. I have to hang my head in shame because I truly thought running on concrete WAS bad!? I was told by coaches to always stay on the street if there’s a choice! Thanks for setting me straight!! I also hate when people think running a 5K is “no big deal” for someone who can run much farther. They have zero clue what it means to RACE and that a 5K is far WORSE then a half-marathon…at least for me :-)
    Allie recently posted..What Is Really In A Protein Bar?My Profile

  4. The “running is bad for your knees” myth drives me nuts!
    Karen @karenlovestorun
    Karen @karenlovestorun recently posted..THE Half MarathonMy Profile

  5. Agree with the others … the “running is bad for your knees” one. I still get from my mother the “all this running isn’t healthy” as well ;) (ugh!)
    Christina recently posted..Mother’s Day, happy running, 10k prize, blackberry bushMy Profile

  6. That using all the newest technology, gizmos and gadgets are/is the only way to improve as a runner in today’s world. They are simply an aide, a runner still has to run to improve. :-) I guess I am getting to be such an old fart ;-)
    Harold recently posted..Day 3 and Making Progress – RunLog 5/13/14My Profile

  7. Ya I used to subscribe to the running is bad for your knees too … and I have really bad knees (the tendon degeneration you speak of :( ) But once I learned proper form the strength in my legs and around my knees improved substantially!
    Wildly Morgan recently posted..Let’s Go To The Farmer’s Market – Wychwood Barns TorontoMy Profile

  8. Yes Amanda! Very very true! The hyponatremia especially hits home to me as once I experienced that in a 10k race. I fell over twice down the straightaway….once 2 feet from the finish line, and pretty much crawled across. i was completely delirious, and felt completely drunk! My doctor told me he never wanted me to drink powerade zero again, especially when it was combined with drinking water. I had completely diluted all my salts out! Was a scary experience! Glad you have brought this reminder to us!

    Another running myth I have to deal a lot with is that because I am an athlete that I either do not eat, or I can eat anything….there is such a thing as a balance!!!!
    Tina Muir recently posted..Secrets to Success as a Runner; StridesMy Profile

  9. I have to go with running is bad for the knees/ankles/hips. There are a lot of excuses out there to not exercise and people cling to the it causes injuries/pain rationale ;) hopefully, posts like this will help encourage people to try running and not stress about the right and wrong way to exercise.
    Susan recently posted..Getting ready to Piggy Trot!My Profile

  10. Right on coach! Some things are just part of the process and we’re all so different there’s no exact description of a runner without these things!
    Kat recently posted..10 Random Things about me – and You?My Profile

  11. I’ll add another check for the knee issue, and science is on our side with this one!
    Coco recently posted..Healthy Oatmeal Banana Muffins With Apple And RaisinsMy Profile

  12. The myth about running being bad for your knees is also one that I’m tired of educating people about…The other myth that I’ve heard that actually made me laugh was that running would make my internal organs (particularly my lady parts) fall out….
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted..A good alternative #bestfootMy Profile

  13. Ha funny, I shared my top 5 not that long ago –

    mostly I’m glad we’ve past the point where people thought running jar a woman’s uterus loose :)
    Amanda @runtothefinish recently posted..Dairy Free Dilemma Solved – 9 Indulgent Vegan Grilled Cheese OptionsMy Profile

  14. At least there is a general consensus that running doesn’t make the uterus fall out.
    Jojo @ RunFastEatLots recently posted..The Weekly Chase 5/13, a Road Race, and FundraisingMy Profile

  15. My mom had the same swimming rule! Except that we had to wait a half hour, rather than a full hour. It’s funny how things become “truth”… I think you nailed my favorites, although the “it’s bad for your joints/knees” is definitely one I still hear a lot.
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..9 High Protein Breakfast FoodsMy Profile

  16. I hate the myth about pronation mattering. I also think it’s funny/annoying when people think there is one shoe that they should be wearing or is good for everyone. One of my boss’s coworkers approached me last week saying that he wanted to get into running and asking for shoe recommendations. (He also said that he has low arches, *eyeroll*.) I tried to explain that there isn’t one shoe for everyone and that he should try different things until he finds something he likes, but I suggested he go to a running store and I told him what shoes they would be likely to have him try given what he said about his feet. Even though the running store model is built on the pronation myth… :/
    Rachel recently posted..Training 5/5-5/11/14My Profile

  17. I know others have said this but I can’t stand when people tell me that running will wreck my knees. Sure, running can lead to injuries from time to time, but not exercising at all has far worse consequences for overall health!
    Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine recently posted..Food and Workout Planning/Prepping Week of 5/11/14My Profile

  18. Love this! So true, especially the pronation! I have found that since I moved to a natural running shoes my legs have been much happier!
    Krysten Siba Bishop (@darwinianfail) recently posted..#WIAW – Celebration SeasonMy Profile

  19. Love this, and glad you spoke up to your neighbour!
    The drinking water one is great. We have the book Waterlogged that I still have to read.
    The myth that drives me bananas? If you run you’ll be slim. Not necessarily! Most runners I know eat a healthy diet and consistently exercise…that’s why they’re slim!
    Abby recently posted..So you wanna do a triathlon? Five things I wish I knew when I startedMy Profile

  20. I just got into the “running is bad for your knees” debate with a non-runner neighbor the other day! Thought we’d be over this one by now!
    Michelle @ Running with Attitude recently posted..Monday MotivationMy Profile

  21. I have no clue what possible myth could drive 80% of the runners in our neck of the woods to run in the street, when there are 2 sidewalks and 2 parkways to run on instead – whatever the myth is, it drives me crazy. So dangerous and unnecessary.
    Kovas – Midwest Multisport Life recently posted..If it scares you…My Profile

  22. Great post! The one I also get a lot is the one about the knees, that running will ruin your knees. As previous poster said, thank goodness the myth about our uterus falling out has stopped :)
    Robin recently posted..Marathon Maniacs – Double AgentMy Profile

  23. This is great…I hate it is bad for your knees. I actually didn’t know the concrete…I have always tried to stay on the road thinking it was better than the concrete :).
    My father in law has heard that running over 25 miles a week is bad for you and has all these negative effects so he has been telling me that lately…blah, blah, blah
    Jen@milesandblessings recently posted..Definitely NOT the smartest thing I have ever done….My Profile

  24. Well, this isn’t so much a myth as just something that non runners tend to say a lot(at least to me) – Runners are crazy!! I think that runners are some of the most intelligent people I know!!! We might do some crazy things but….
    And, because our country wasn’t really in a running boom when I was pregnant – during both of my pregnancies I had numerous people (some that I knew and some complete strangers) tell me that I shouldn’t run while pregnant. Huge myth!!!
    Kim recently posted..The Day I Gave UpMy Profile

  25. Hate it when non-runners say running will ruin my knees! Ugh! I think it’s just an excuse for them to feel better about being lazy;)
    Rachelle Q recently posted..Random Thoughts TuesdayMy Profile

  26. Pronation is one of my biggest pet peeves actually. Everyone runs differently (I work at a running store) and that is why there are so many different running shoes. We all need a different shoe…we don’t need shoes that will correct how we run. Those are the shoes that injure…
    Hollie recently posted..Because I’m Crafty…My Profile

  27. Hey, that is very interesting to me about the inflammation!

  28. That if you never run a marathon, then you’re seen as a less serious runner. Just an observation from my neck of the woods!
    Adrienne recently posted..Mid-May Training Update: Making More AdjustmentsMy Profile

    • MissZippy says:

      Agree! That one drives me crazy and I think it has been proliferated heavily by the Internet.

  29. Great post! In addition to the ones mentioned above, I dislike when people say they’re not “built for running” for just that running too many marathons in general is going to destroy your body. Everyone knows someone who is broken all over because ‘they ran too much’ or ‘didn’t have a runner’s body’. No one ever asks/wonders if that person just didn’t listen to their body and rest or rehab when they needed too.
    Running Hutch recently posted..24 Hours with MoxieMy Profile

    • MissZippy says:

      YES! Firm believer here that injuries don’t just happen…there’s always a mistake to be found in there (I should know!)

  30. ::::: applause :::::::

    great post MissZ
    Michael Cowart recently posted..Old City CritMy Profile

  31. Very much agree with your post – and also most of the comments around ‘runner’s knee’ and Harold’s about technology.

    One little caveat – while over-hydrating (well, more like messing up electrolyte balance) is definitely a bad thing, I would always advise against telling people to NOT drink more. The estimates are the 75% of people in our country suffer chronic mild dehydration, so getting PROPER hydration should be the goal – and maintaining good electrolyte balance.
    Michael Anderson recently posted..Take Care Tuesday – Begin By Loving the Person in the MirrorMy Profile

  32. my husband still believes the swimming thing… so annoying, he still believes a lot of old wives tales his mothers told him, she even tried to get to to put my kids in super stiff shoes as soon as they started walking because “it was good for the development of their feet” My husband has very effed up feet, I would never believe anything she says about feet shoes and kids. love the lady just not all her advice
    Christy recently posted..Montana Women’s Run Race RecapMy Profile

  33. It’s not really a myth but I hate when people believe that running every day – through fatigue and illness – makes them a better runner. Sure you don’t get to be better without running but you also don’t get to be better without resting.
    Char recently posted..The Day I Became A MurdererMy Profile

  34. More than just the knees… I hear people say “I just dont think running 26 miles can be good for the body.” I want to scream,” Well, neither is sitting on the darn couch and spending hours watching Lifetime movies!” I find these comments are usually exercise-averse people looking for further justification for their lack of activity. In general, why do people feel so compelled to even offer an opinion on something they know so little about?!

  35. totally depends on the depth of inflammation. Agreed! A little can help the body react and rebuild! but a lot just breaks it down
    lindsay recently posted..Making Workouts PurposefulMy Profile

  36. I love this and enjoyed all the comments! The one that I get most often is how bad running is for my knees and how I will grow up with bad knees. Also that running outside in winter will result in a cold or flu.
    Johann recently posted..Why Do I Run?My Profile

  37. Add me to the bad knees camp. I hear that one constantly. So sick of it.
    Marcia recently posted..#FuelYourBetter with Vega Sport Protein BarsMy Profile

  38. Great ones! When i was a kid, my mom would make us wait with our feet in the water, sitting on the edge until our food “settled”. Torture!!
    Taylor @ LiftingRevolution recently posted..8 Habits To Stop When I’m A Mother To DaughterMy Profile

  39. The problem is that sometimes things like running on concrete or pronation can be bad–if people don’t learn to run more efficiently.

    I hate when I hear some people say that they “just can’t run” or “aren’t built like a runner” or some other nonsense they somehow have come to believe about themselves. I used to think like that, until I got tired of holding on to that belief, and found a better way.
    bob recently posted..Forefoot, midfoot, or heel strike? Yes!My Profile

  40. The pronation thing interested me…. I overpronate big time & I do find that I need a motions control or stability shoe. With weight lifting, inserts help cause with as bad as my overpronation is, it is hard to do the whole balance thing with lunges & all the other good stuff – 1 legged goodies & all that! :)
    Jody – Fit at 56 recently posted..Women for Women; Happy Bday MomMy Profile

  41. So everyone mentions the knees and how it must be BS… where did that myth come from then I wonder. Did one guy blame his bad knees on a lifetime of running and then the whole thing got out of control, because no one here seems to think there is any truth to it.

  42. running is bad for your knees. please make that one go away. i know everyone else has said it too, so we obviously all agree!
    elizabeth recently posted..Back to Back Racecation WeekendsMy Profile


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