Running myths that need busting

Running on grassEvery 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. says

    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

  2. says

    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

  3. says

    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

  4. says

    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

  5. says

    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

  6. says

    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

  7. says

    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

    • MissZippy says

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

  8. says

    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!)

  9. says

    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

  10. says

    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

  11. says

    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

  12. Laurie says

    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?!

  13. says

    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

  14. says

    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

  15. says

    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

  16. says

    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.