If you’re a runner, or are trying to up your running game, you’ve probably heard tons of advice about improving your stride, avoiding injury, and increasing your speed. Being your best at any sport takes research, reading, and practice; the more you know, the better you’ll be. That research shows commitment and a desire to achieve set goals.
However, as with most art forms, all the proper advice is paired with some serious myths that can impact your performance. Between online magazines, bloggers, and medical sites, the lines of internet advice blur. We’re here to crack apart a few of the myths we’ve seen across the blogosphere when it comes to making the most of your runs.
- Always stretch prior to a run. It turns out that stretching after a run is a more effective use of your time. Stretching before a run may actually slow you down and doesn’t help avoid injury. A quick dynamic warm-up – like high knees, jogging in place, or lunges – is a way better use of your time and limbers your muscles while strengthening them.
- Running on pavement is bad; grass and dirt place less of an impact on your knees. While it may seem viable that running on softer grass or dirt protects your knees and legs because they have more give than pavement does, that may not be the case. It turns out that most injury is caused by repetitive motion, which happens on consistently-shaped pavement. Trails force you to change up your stride, helping to avoid injury. So instead of avoiding pavement, avoid consistent routes… whatever that’s made of.
- Sports drinks are the best post-workout recovery. If you’re doing a longer workout – say a half marathon, or an intense hour in sweltering heat – drinking a sports drink can replenish electrolytes, sugars, and calories that you’ve lost during your tough exercise session. However, for a normal everyday workout, sports drinks just bring in extra unneeded calories and sugar. Refuel with fruit for natural sugars and healthy calories instead.
- Carbo-loading is key to winning your next race. It turns out that the days of bingeing on pasta the night before a big game or race may be over. Eating a ton of carbs the night before may actually impact your GI tract and make you feel bloated the next day… not ideal for a long run. Gradually increase your carb intake starting a few weeks before a race to perform best on the day of a competition.
- Barefoot running is better than conventional sneakers. This depends. While barefoot running has been shown to improve your stride, new studies are showing that barefoot shoes (or running completely barefoot) may not have the injury-avoiding properties that some thought. If you’re trying out barefoot running, start slow and stay in tune with how your body feels. At the first sign of pain, switch back to your shoes.
What running myths have you heard that need to be dispelled? Let us know in the comments below!