9 Running Myths & What to Believe Instead

There are many things ‘they’ say about running.

Things you may have heard from someone, somewhere, about running. Bits of common wisdom that might be true, might be a lie, or might be once-upon-a-time truths that have been debunked.

Then there are some things that sound like they should be true – even if they aren’t.

Time for a little running myth-busting!

Running Myths & What to Believe Instead

Myth: You have to be ‘fast’ to be a runner

Truth: There are no pace or time prerequisites to be a runner

If you put on running shoes and move forward, you are a runner.

Period.

End of story.

Sure, there are pacists out there who think runners who are ‘slow’ (usually defined – by them – as anyone who runs slower than them -funny how that works) are lesser-than runners.

I’ve crossed paths with several pedantic jackholes over the years who have tried to convince me I can’t say I’ve “run a marathon” because I’ve walked at some point during each of my 30+ marathons and ultras.

Yeah… whatever…

That is their problem, not yours.

If you run, you are a runner.

Period.

If you are slow/slower/sloth-like slow, you are still a runner.

Even if you sometimes walk, you are still a runner.

Read More
All marathon finishers are equal

Myth: To get faster, always run as fast as you can

Truth: You’ll get faster by sometimes running slow

This is one just feels like it should be true, doesn’t it? But always pushing your pace to 11 will probably just result in over-training, injury, and mental and physical burnout.

It feels counterintuitive, but it’s true: occasionally running slower will ultimately lead to you running faster.

During your hardest runs, you push your body to the limit. The possibility of injury increases since your muscles are constantly under stress.

Easy runs will allow your body to recover (while you remain active) so you can really give it your all on those hard run days.

Read More: The Marathon Training Puzzle

Myth: Rest days are just slacking off

Truth: Rest days are an important part of training

What I just said about occasionally running easy? Repeat it all here for rest days.

The process by which your body gets stronger is: stress, recovery, repeat.

You stress your body during a workout, then you recover from that stress with either a rest day or an easy run.

Your muscles don’t grow (and you don’t get stronger) during the hard workouts, you get stronger when your body rebuilds the muscles you broke down. That happens when you give your muscles the chance to recover after a hard workout.

That ‘recovery’ could be a rest day or an easy run, but there needs to be some down days in your running calendar.

Myth: There is a perfect… For everyone

Truth: What works for one won’t work for everyone

Fill in the blank here with anything… a perfect diet, shoe, gear, training plan.

I’ve always found online shoe reviews confusing – how can one person’s shoe experience (which is impacted by their foot shape, running style, pronation, and personal preferences), at all inform me about what my experience with that shoe will look like?

You are a test case of one.

The only way to know what the best ______ is for you is to know yourself, try things out, and see what happens.

If it works, great. Keep doing it. If it doesn’t work, try something new.

Myth: Running injuries are inevitable

Truth: Many (if not most) injuries can be avoided

Many running injuries are the result of over-training, lack of muscle balance, lack of strength, or bad/incorrect gear.

Take steps to avoid running injuries by using the proper gear, developing and following a well-balanced training plan, doing strength work, taking rest/easy days, and doing pre-hab including mobility and stretching.

Myth: Hitting the marathon wall is inevitable

Truth: Many marathons have no wall

Marathoners who hit the wall on race day usually do so for one of three common reasons: 1) they reach the end of their training, 2) they run out of fuel, or 3) they are mentally over it.

To avoid the wall:

  • Develop and follow a training plan
  • Fuel consistently. Test your fueling during training and follow your fueling plan on race day, even if you feel great
  • Train your brain as well as you train your body.

Myth: Only mileage matters

Truth: Variety is the spice of life

I get it – having a super high mileage number looks great on Strava or on your Instagram posts, but think quality over quantity.

A mileage total filled to the brim with junk miles isn’t doing anyone any good.

Mixing up your longer runs with some quality, fast (and shorter) runs and a few days here and there of hill work may lead to a smaller total mileage number, but it will make you a stronger and more well-rounded runner.

Myth: Tracking your runs is just for stat junkies

Truth: Tracking your runs makes it easier to see patterns and improve

While it’s true that not all runners will benefit from all the graphs and tables Garmin and Strava offer, ‘run tracking’ comes in many flavors.

While you don’t need to track all your run stats if you don’t want to, jotting down a few notes about a run (both stats like your distance and pace, and also what you were thinking about or external factors that may have impacted your run), will help you in the long run.

Life stresses or poor sleep will impact your running, but that impact can often only be noticed as a longer-term trend.

Track what is relevant to you, no graphs required (if you don’t want them).

Myth: Never miss a Monday/Never skip a run

Truth: The occasional skipped run won’t make or break you.

Life happens.

You’ll get sick, you’ll have an unforeseen business trip. There will come a day when everything goes wrong and you just can’t get your run in. Or your body may just demand a day off.

Training plans are just that, plans. All plans are subject to change.

If you can rearrange your training days and still get your run in, great. Do so.

But if you can’t, the day is gone. Let it go.

While you shouldn’t make a habit of skipping runs (skipping a run feels a little easier every time you do it- best to not head down that slippery slope), the occasional skipped run won’t make or break you.

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