Common Myths About Running

By Mike Orzechowski, PT, DPT

Running is one of the best ways to get in shape, lose weight, and improve your cardiovascular health. Running is not always as easy as it sounds because many runners can get injured if they don’t train properly. In order to be a runner you don’t have to run marathons, and you don’t even have to run 5K races. You don’t have to spend lots of money on equipment. You just have to run. Like many other exercise routines people can lose interest and quit for a variety of reasons. There is so much information out there about running that it is often hard to know what to believe. Here are some of the common misconceptions about running.

  • YOU HAVE TO STRETCH BEFORE YOU RUN:
    You have to warm-up before you run, but that doesn’t necessarily mean stretching. Studies have shown that doing dynamic warm-ups can get your body ready to run better than static stretching. Some examples of dynamic warm-ups are walking heel raises, walking lunges, and high knees. It also can be as easy as going for a five minute walk prior to running. I do recommend some static stretching though for any specific injured areas or sore spots prior to your run.
  • RUNNING IS BAD FOR YOUR KNEES:
    Studies have shown that running does not increase your chance of knee injury or osteoarthritis compared to other exercise. You can keep your knees healthy with a proper training and strengthening program.
  • YOU HAVE TO RUN RACES TO BE A RUNNER:
    As long as you continue to run you are a “runner.” The best thing about running is you don’t need a team, an expensive membership, or a lot of equipment to do it. All you need is a goal and proper training routine.
  • RUNNING IS FOR THE YOUNG AND FIT:
    It’s never too late to start running. Consulting with your physician before starting a running program is always a good idea. But don’t let your age be an excuse. If you feel you are unfit or are entirely new to running, a “walk-jog-walk” program can be very helpful to ease your way into things.
  • RUNNING SHOULD BE HARD AND FAST:
    Running too fast or too frequently, especially at the beginning of a new running program, is a sure-fire way to injure yourself. It is much better to start modestly and progress steadily over time. A simple guideline to improve one’s cardiovascular health is to train at 65-85% of your maximum heart rate. You can obtain this number by doing the following calculation: Take the number 220 and subtract your age. To find your training “zone”, simply multiply that number by both 0.65 and 0.85.
  • *Example for a 55 year-old healthy individual: 220-55= 165. Thus, 165 x 0.65=107 which represents the lower end of your heart rate (the number of beats per minute) needed to efficiently train your cardiovascular system. 165 x 0.85= 140 which represents the upper end of your safe and efficient training heart rate. Hence your goal is to keep your heart rate within the 107 to 140 beats per minute “zone” when you are exercising.

Hopefully this dispels a few of the many myths about running. Some great running websites to find more tips are www.runnersworld.com and www.naturalrunningcenter.com