Learning how to run can be overwhelming. And for every positive article about the benefits of running, you can find another article officially declaring how running is “bad for you” in one way or another. But are they right?
Over the past 5 years that I’ve been running and racing, I’ve heard it all. “I can’t run because of (insert myth here)”. And so many people that I’ve tried to encourage to start running don’t because of all of the misconceptions. It really is a shame.
If you’ve never run before, getting started can seem very intimidating! And even when you become more experienced, you’ll hear the craziest things from people who may want to discourage you from running.
But you’ve got to know the facts before you turn away from a form of fitness that could completely transform your life. Here are 5 of the biggest running myths you may have heard, officially busted!
1- If you’re a runner, you can’t walk
There is a common misconception that if you’re a runner, you must run for your entire distance or it “doesn’t count”. This is something that even more experienced runners seem to believe. Good news: it’s false!
Many beginner running programs will include a run/walk interval that will gradually transition you from walking to only running. But even if you don’t fully make that transition, you are still a runner!
Believe it or not, walking can actually help you run farther and sometimes run faster! Giving yourself the freedom to walk when you want or need to will encourage you to stay active and stick with running. And taking a couple of minutes to walk before picking up your speed again can really give you a nice boost.
Still skeptical? The Galloway program created by Jeff Galloway over 40 years ago has been followed by hundreds of thousands of people who successfully race using run/walk intervals. This could be a great way to ease into running and training for a race.
2 – If you can’t run 10 minutes a mile, you’re not a real runner
Here’s the truth: there is no magic number that quantifies you as a runner. Now, if you’re training for the Olympics, that’s a completely different story.
But for the average runner, what business is it of anyone else whether you run a 12-minute mile or a 7-minute mile? If you’re out there challenging yourself and enjoying it, does it really matter how fast you’re going? The answer is no!
There are runners who will probably never run a 10-minute pace and I can guarantee you that it hasn’t stopped them from going out there. Personally, I can’t run a 10-minute pace regularly, but I will never give up the joy I have for running!
Don’t worry about your pace or how you compare to other people. If you consistently work on running, over time, you will get faster. Accept where you are now and continue to work towards your goals.
3- Running is bad for your knees
This is probably the most common misconception about running: Running does not inherently damage your knees! What can happen is that the impact of running can alert you to weaknesses in your knees, especially if you have muscular imbalances in the hips, quads, or hamstrings that cause you to add extra stress to your knees while running.
Working on improving your running form and strength training with squats and lunges can help ease your knee pain and keep you running. Here are some great tips on how to protect your knees.
If you already have underlying knee issues, discuss with your doctor whether running could aggravate your condition. Better yet, look into working with a specialist that regularly works with runners. There may be options for you.
4 – Bigger people can’t run – there’s a specific “runner’s body”
Here’s the truth: not only do you NOT have to run at a certain pace, you do NOT have to be a certain size to be a part of the running community. Have you seen the Women’s Running magazine cover with Erica Schenk, a plus-sized runner? She is such an inspiration – and has been at it for over 10 years!
There are plus-sized men and women who are running outside or on the treadmill every single day! And if you’ve ever gone to watch a race, you will see runners of all shapes and sizes. That’s the great thing about running – anyone can do it!
If you’re worried that you won’t be able to run due to health reasons, be sure to see your doctor and discuss your concerns. And if you’re shopping for running shoes, head to a specialty running store so that you can be fitted with the pair that will provide you with the right type of support.
Now when it comes to having a “runner’s body”, don’t believe the hype. When you’re out running or at the gym, most people are so concerned with their own workouts that they won’t even notice you. Everyone has insecurities and areas they wish they could improve. Focus on your run and be proud that you’re able to do what you can. Don’t ever feel that your body isn’t thin enough, good enough, or strong enough to be a runner.
5 – You have to spend a fortune to be a “real” runner
$150 running shoes. $200 GPS watch. $100 running outfits. $75 race entries. Running can cost you a fortune before you even head out the door – but it doesn’t have to be this way!
The first marathon runners back in the day wore flimsy Chuck Taylor’s. There was no Nike. They didn’t have technical fabric. And they weren’t constantly tracking their pace during a run. And yet, they made history.
Have you ever gone on a ski trip? Have you seen some of the flashy outfits that people wear – bright-colored jackets, expensive goggles, super-fancy snowboards and skis? Now, have you ever seen those same people fall flat on their face on the bunny hill?
Just because they look good doesn’t mean they have any idea what they’re doing. Don’t be fooled. You can run in $60 sneakers, use a phone app to track your runs (or nothing at all), and shop for cheap running clothes at Marshall’s. And Amazon always has great deals. Running is actually one of the cheapest sports to get into – as long as you watch what you’re spending!
Now that these 5 running myths have been effectively debunked, you should be well-equipped to start out on the right foot! If you hear anyone saying these myths are true, let them know the real facts! What are some of the craziest things you’ve heard about running?
Janelle Johnson is a runner and blogger at http://www.runwithnoregrets.com. For more running tips including race training, injury prevention, and healthy eating, sign up for the Run With No Regrets Newsletter.