There is a joke that you know someone is a runner because they will inevitably talk about running. Whether recounting tales from a past marathon or sharing details of their current training plan, runners love to talk about running. The downside of this, however, is it is easy to pick up some misinformation about the sport amid all of the conversations.
“These myths are generally spread by word of mouth, one runner to another,” explains Nick Arciniaga, a runner, coach and pro coordinator for Team Run Flagstaff Pro. “I believe finding a training group is the best way to dispel these myths, usually they’re led by an intelligent, welcoming coach and have plenty of members who run because they enjoy running and they enjoy the company of one another.”
Not only will having a coach’s guidance mean runners are getting the correct information, but it also lowers the chance of starting and spreading myths yourself. “Getting a coach will certainly help a beginner start training the right way from the very beginning so bad habits don’t develop,” adds Jason Fitzgerald, a marathoner and head coach at Strength Running.
These two coaches shared some of the biggest myths they hear — and constantly correct — among runners.
MYTH #1: RUNNERS JUST RUN
If you want to start running, all you need is to lace up a pair of shoes and go. However, to be a successful runner, there is a bit more you need to do. “To be a successful runner — healthy, fast and consistent — you should be doing more than just running,” explains Fitzgerald. “Strength work, drills and dynamic flexibility exercises are critical to develop well-rounded athleticism and prevent injuries.” If you are a beginner, learning basic foam-rolling techniques to boost your muscle recovery and a few pre-run drills to warm up muscles and keep injuries at bay is enough. As you progress, adding strength work and core exercises helps increase your power and endurance.
MYTH #2: YOU HAVE TO BE FAST TO BE A RUNNER
“I hear this one working at the local shoe store all the time; people come in and say, ‘I’m not actually a runner, I just jog around a little bit,’” shares Arciniaga. “If you consistently take time out of your day to go out and run, then you are a runner.” The great thing about running is the sport is all-inclusive and takes little equipment to get started. So no matter your pace or your experience level, give yourself some credit. If you run, you are a runner!
MYTH #3: RUNNERS ARE WEAK
Fitzgerald attributes the spreading of this myth to other disciplines — such as CrossFit — but notes that it couldn’t be further from the truth. “Only those runners who don’t do any strength workouts are weak,” he adds. “Following up every run with a simple strength or core routine is an effective way to get stronger on just 10–15 minutes per day.” Because runners don’t just run (see above), they develop a well-rounded strength routine to make sure their entire body is strong enough to handle the rigors that endurance mileage can put on the body.
READ MORE > 5 REASONS YOU’RE NOT IMPROVING AS A RUNNER
MYTH #4: RUNNING TOO MUCH PUTS TOO MUCH STRESS ON THE BODY
High-mileage won’t cause your body to burnout; in fact, it is the low-mileage, high-speed training programs that often have little success according to Fitzgerald. “The idea that running higher mileage is bad for an athlete because it will cause their legs to over-fatigue and not recover is often perpetuated by younger athletes and high school coaches,” notes Arciniaga. “The truth is that most runners react differently to different stimuli (i.e. high mileage, speed work, tempos) and that running higher mileage can lead to enormous fitness jumps in athletes.” Fitzgerald agrees, sharing that running more is the way to improve your endurance and race times.
MYTH #5: RUNNING IN THE RAIN OR COLD WILL MAKE YOU SICK
This myth is only true if you aren’t prepared. “The truth is that if you train in wet or cold conditions and then do not have warm clothes or a warm place to go afterwards, then you may get sick,” explains Arciniaga. “But that is not caused from running in those conditions, it is caused by not taking the time to warm up properly afterwards.” Training in adverse weather conditions, whether in extreme heat or frigid cold requires forethought and proper gear. Once an athlete has run a few times in these conditions and learned what works for them, however, they can acclimate.