Runners get a lot of flack about their morning miles. Ask any regular jogger, and they can probably recite the well-intentioned lecture that concerned friends, family members, and barely-there work acquaintances like to send their way verbatim. These critics – who probably haven’t laced up their running shoes for more than a brisk power walk in years – typically have a litany of the same prodding concerns:
Haven’t you heard that running is bad for your joints?
Why do you do this regularly – it looks awful!
Can I introduce you to an elliptical?
But the truth is, anyone who dedicates themselves to running probably loves the sport enough to gently sidestep these concerns. Many of these complaints are based in myth rather than fact, in any case!
I previously listed a few common myths plaguing the running community. Below, I’ve included several more misconceptions that runners can confidently ignore whenever another conversation turns into a lecture.
“Eating before a run is always a bad idea”
Everyone is different when it comes to pre-run eating; some runners are able to eat small meals with little to no gastrointestinal reaction, while others may struggle to make it through a run after eating a light snack. That said, eating before a run is not necessarily a bad idea — it is all about finding what works for you. If you are the type of runner who needs a few hours to digest a meal, for example, plan accordingly so you are ready to hit the roads with a light stomach. Conversely, if you prefer a last minute jump start, keep yourself prepared with a piece of fruit, energy bar, or another snack predetermined to sit well during the run. Regardless, runners need to fuel themselves to maintain a healthy and productive training cycle, and if you are new to running, do not be afraid to experiment with different foods and eating schedules to see what caters to your individual needs.
“It doesn’t matter what training shoes you wear”
This misconception can quickly spell disaster for new runners, as wearing the wrong training shoes almost always leads to an injury. Trainers come in all shapes and sizes, ranging in designs based on different foot types, and proper preparation is key in selecting the right brand and model. Most speciality shops offer foot analyses in which new runners are able to establish their own unique gait, taking characteristics like foot size and arch into consideration. Then, staff are able to determine which shoes best fit this specific foot type, mitigating the risk of injury and discomfort. The best rule of thumb is to wear a shoe that feels natural — if it feels unnatural, it is probably not the shoe for you.
“You should carbo load the night before a race”
It is a very common mistake amongst new runners to “carbo load,” or ingest excessive amounts of carbohydrate-rich foods, within 24 hours of a big race. In reality, carbo loading is best accomplished over a period of up to a week prior to competition, and if that event is shorter than two hours, it is usually better to avoid dietary alteration altogether. Either way, make sure that, in the hours leading up to the race, you are eating in a manner that you are sure will not upset your stomach and sabotage your performance — the pre-race period is the worst time to experiment with new foods.