Saturday, June 4, 2011


We must not be hampered by yesterday's myths in concentrating on today's needs.
Harold S. Geneen

There are a lot of myths about running. I think I’ve heard them all, but here are a few.

You really shouldn’t run so much. It’s bad for your knees

FALSE. The most common heard myth about running is that it will ruin your knees. This has never, ever been proven in a well-designed study. Studies on osteoarthritis of the knee and hip in runners and non-runners have found that it is a problem in both groups equally. If genetically you're doomed to get arthritis, then the road has been paved for you. Running makes little to no difference in whether you will develop arthritis or not. Running may actually help to maintain a healthy joint. Now, if you have a pre-existing joint problem because of a previous injury or arthritis, then running may accelerate it. I find the biggest contributor to knee arthritis is weight. Every pound translates to 1.5 pounds of force in the knee joint with every step while walking. Assuming the average adult takes 5000-10,000 steps per day, you can see where just a few extra kilos can add up.

Don't run if you have a cold

FALSE. Generally, the old adage applies - if the cold is in your neck or above, it is usually safe to run. Now, I'm not saying you're going to have the run of your life. As a matter of fact, I'm prone to say you'll probably feel like crap, but if you must run, then you most likely will not endanger your health. If the cold is in your chest, or if you have a fever...c'mon, use some common sense and bag the run. You might spread the infection in your lungs, prolong the symptoms, keep throwing up, but're keeping your running streak going!

You should buy a new running shoes every 500 miles

TRUE. Back when I started running (with the pilgrims), I would take great pride in getting close to 1000 miles on a pair of shoes (no foolin'). But, this is where shoe technology has developed to protect your joints by discovering new materials. Unfortuneately, this technology also breaks down sooner. Modern shoes can still look as good as new after a year, but their impact-absorbing properties drop off significantly after 350-500 miles depending on your style and weight. Some conspiracy theorists view this as a way for shoe comapies to up their sales, and this might not be 100% nuts, but in an effort not to limp around any more than I do, I say Bring On The Technology.

Running on a treadmill is not as effective as running outdoors

FALSE. Although there is arguably less impact on a treadmill, which is more forgiving than the road, the big plus of a treadmill is that it will make you mighty honest to running at a cetain pace or you will be off the back of the treadmill like George Jetson. The effect of air resistence that is lost on a teadmill can be easily compensated by raising the incline 1%. I remember training for Pikes Peak and here in Alabama, the steepest hill I could find was an 8% grade and Pikes rises at 11% for 13 miles! I found out you can almost die on a treadmill when you put it at 11%!!

I’m a runner, so I can eat anything

FALSE: HOO-BOY, that's a good one. Yeah, you can eat anything, but you'll be big as a double-wide! The truth is that most runners burn about 100 calories per mile (same as walkers), so you do the math...5 miles equals 500 calories...come home, eat 1000 calories and your 500 in the hole. Plus, now you're whipped and the lawn doesn't get cut, the car doesn't get washed, and the Couch of Doom draws you in like a black hole. See where I'm going with this? Unfortunately, old habits die hard, and I really, really like my peanut M&Ms.

Running is counterproductive to strength training

TRUE: But only if your goal in life is to compete in the national weight lifting championships. A good exercise program combines both strength training and intense cardio, whether running or not. Weight lifting will protect your joints from the pounding of running, especially if you emphasize a low weight/high rep program. I know some pretty big Arnold-looking dudes who are fast runners.

You've got to run hard to sweat

FALSE: I love when folks say to me "I'll bet you can run a mile and not even break a sweat". The truth is I just THINK of running a mile and I sweat! A runner's cooling system is much more on alert to cool you off, hence you sweat like a pig pretty easily. Think of how many times you over-dressed in the winter and were drenched under your 3 layers two miles into the run.

You aren’t a runner until you’ve completed a marathon

BIG FALSE: You’re a runner if you run, period. The fact that I can run a marathon and you run 5k's just means we run different distances loving the same sport.

You must carbo load before a marathon

FALSE: What’s a marathon without the traditional pre race carbo loading dinner? Now, I can eat pasta every night of the week. I mean look at all those different shapes. To me they're as different as potatoes are from tomatoes! And they're all just jammed packed with tons of carbohydrates...and isn't that what we were taught our little running muslces craved in RUNNING 101? Those heaping plates of pasta the evening before your marathon have become an accepted part of marathon racing. But, do you need those huge helpings of pasta? Not really. Your pre race taper combined with your normal high carbohydrate helpings of food will get you ready for your race. You neither need nor want excessive portion sizes before your race. The large amounts of food can actually make you sluggish and tired on race morning. And let's not even talk about becoming friends with Mr. Porta-potty.

Higher Mileage is always better

FALSE: Higher mileage isn’t always better, but it may be under certain circumstances. Of course, it depends on what your goals are. There are a lot of runners out there that think the more miles they put in the better they will do. That is only half true. It’s true that more mileage will usually result in better performance, but only up to a point. Several studies have shown that up to about 70 miles per week you will reap a lot of benefits from increasing your running volume. After 70 miles per week you still see some gains but they are much smaller. Most runners can perform very successful marathon running on 40-45 miles per week, or sometimes, even less.

Running will give you a heart attack or other heart problems

FALSE: This is one of my pet-peeves. Every time there is a marathon in which a runner unfortuneately dies, all these non-runners come off their couch to tell you "See what happens if you run?". Look, let's take 50,000 runners in a marathon and 50,000 couch-potatoes and see how many of each has a heart attack. OK, the truth is that DURING a vigorous exercise, like a marathon, , there is a 7x greater chance of having a heart attack, but regular running and other forms of endurance exercises can reduce your overall risk of a heart attack by up to 50%. So, once again, I ask you to do the math. You're damned if you do (exercise), because every workout carries a small, transient risk. However, you're much more damned if you don't (exercise), because you're far more likely to suffer from heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and similar lifestyle diseases. Simply going out for a run most days of the week is doing far more good than bad for your heart.

Wow, RWA went way too long this week folks. I better go for my run before it gets too hot. Thank goodness it's not the winter, because you know if you run in the winter, you can freeze your lungs! I'll see you on the roads - AL

"One child lost is too child saved can change the world"

No comments: