I just finished watching the presidential debates. While most of you know where I stand, this isn't a forum for political debate. It's a running blog, but I have to admit that Hilary's repeated request for fact checking inspired me to do some fact checking of my own--not on politics, but on running myths.
Just log onto Facebook and the running advice abounds. I'm no expert but I know enough to be dangerous. There's good advice, mediocre advice, and bad advice. As a medical provider, I base my decisions on evidence. Anecdotes and stories are great, but "correlation doesn't mean causation.
But then there's that advice that keeps appearing. Similar to urban legends, these running "tips" keep showing up on social media. For today's Wednesday Word, which is wisdom, I thought I'd put on my professor cap and try to dispel some commonly accepted running wisdom which isn't quite so wise.
Myth busted: Running is bad for your knees: I've been running for 25+ years. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that running is bad for my knees, I'd be able to retire. Actually, my feet are the body part that suffers from my miles, not my knees. Research actually supports me here. The most recent study demonstrated that running is NOT associated with a higher incidence of osteoarthritis. Interestingly, the runners in the study reported less knee pain overall than the non-runners. Other studies have shown similar results. Of course, there is always the alternative..not running...
Myth busted: Stretching before a run is beneficial: Back in the day when I first started running we "warmed up" with toe touches, side stretches, runners' lunges... you know the drill. If you are still doing these "warm-ups", you may want to stop. Research shows that stretching cold muscles before a run is not only NOT beneficial, it may also lead to greater risk of injury. Oops! If that isn't enough to deter you, another study demonstrated DECREASED performance and greater perceived effort after pre-run stretching. If you feel the need to stretch before you run, do some easy running drills to warm up your muscles first, then stretch them.
Myth busted: The 10% rule: The rule of thumb for increasing mileage has always been not to increase more than 10% per week. Why? Believe it or not, there is NO research to support this. It's just been a guideline. Back in 2013, this study demonstrated the futility of the 10% rule yet it still continues to be perpetuated. You know I'm all about knowing your limits. But in case you need some guidance, here's an article to help you.
Myth busted: Breaking in new running shoes: Ok, so I couldn't find ANY research to support or oppose the need to break in new running shoes. What I did find was plenty of advice about how to break in new running shoes. I've never ever "broken in" a pair of running shoes. When it's time for new shoes, I just go for a run. And I've never had an issue. While I will admit that "my" research is far from scientific, you can't argue with success. Bring it on, science!
Myth busted: Carb loading for a marathon: The proof is here: It's all in the taper. The taper prior to a marathon reduces the need for carbohydrates, which causes glycogen stores to improve without any diet changes. Less running burns less calories. Another study showed that runners with low glycogen stores prior to a marathon but consumed carbs during a race actually performed as well or better than those with high glycogen stores and carb consumption. In other words, don't sweat it.
What are your favorite running myths that you want to see busted? Me? I'd like to see more research on post running stretching, high mileage vs low mileage training, and benefits of strength training for runners.
I'm linking up with DebRuns for Wednesday Word, as well as Debbie, Susie, Lora, and Rachel for Coaches Corner.