There’s a lot of misinformation out there about running. Most of it spread by half-truths, consumer advertising, and non-runners. Here are 10 running myths debunked and discredited.

1. You must be tall and skinny to be a runner

Not true. Runners come in all shapes and sizes. Take a look at the almost 60,000 runners in the New York City marathon and you’ll see every body type under the sun. To be a runner, all you need to do is run. Granted, you may get skinnier as you run, but you don’t have to start out that way.

2. No pain, no gain.

Some people think you must hurt during every workout to make gains in fitness. Not true. If you’re feeling pain during your workout, you’re likely doing more damage than good. Hard days are required, but so are easy days and rest days.

3. Stretch before you run.

That’s a throwback to gym class and your middle school track coach who liked to circle up before every practice for some hurdler stretches. Static stretching isn’t a good idea when your muscles are cold. Instead, a few dynamic stretches and a slow jog is the best way to get your body ready to run.

4. Streaking is good for you.

Running everyday (what did you think I was talking about?) is not a great idea. It can lead to overuse injuries, burn-out, and reduced gains. Your rest days are your growth days. You can always mix it up with some biking or swimming if you need to get your endorphin fix.

5. Strength training will slow you down.

If you do some strength training exercises a few times a week to work your core, your upper body, and your legs, you’re not going to turn into the Incredible Hulk. What you will do is make your body bulletproof and avoid muscle imbalances that lead to injury. You might even get faster.

6. Drink water and eat every 30 minutes while running.

No. Just no. You don’t need to wear a flip belt and a holster full of water bottles every time you go for a run. Your body can sustain you for about an hour without any additional water or fuel. In fact, you’ll learn to burn more fat and run more efficiently if you wean yourself off the gels and chews.

7. Running in the cold will give you pneumonia.

Cold air will not make you sick. It might make it difficult to breathe for a few days until your body adjusts to freezing temperatures. But, running in the cold isn’t dangerous. Just keep an eye out for snowplows.
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8. Runners can eat anything they want without gaining weight.

I wish. Runners have to eat healthy foods and watch their caloric intake if they want to maintain their bodyweight. However, they can sometimes consume quite a bit of food to offset the massive energy output of their long runs. Yeah!

9. Carbo loading the night before is required to race well.

Carbohydrate loading can benefit runners before long endurance events where their glycogen stores may be depleted. The trick is to carbo load for 3-5 days before the event. If the event is going to be shorter than 90 minutes, it probably won’t help you.

10. Barefoot running, maximalist shoes, or xyz brand is best.

When choosing what to put on your feet, use common sense. Does it seem like running barefoot over paved surfaces makes sense? Probably not. Do you want to strap mattress-sized shoes to your feet? I don’t. Try on a variety of shoes, and see what feels best on your feet. Seek the guidance of an expert shoe fitter at a running specialty store. Like Chuck D said, “Don’t believe the hype.”

Have any others to add? Please leave them in the Comments section below.

5 thoughts on “10 BS Facts About Running Everyone Thinks Are True

  1. Just found this…great list. I figure these aren’t “one size fits all” but I always struggle with the idea of (not) streaking. For me, my best races have come off long base cycles with little, sometimes no days off. Often as long as 2-3 months. I might throw in a virtual day off, like an easy 3-4 miles just to loosen up. But I find that I burn out and get injured when I’m not locked into a consistent pattern. The discipline of a streak seems to work for me. I wonder though if I’m just looking at it wrong, and could unlock gains if a had a better grasp of a solid plan that incorporated full rest days. Always hard to know what to do.

    1. Discipline and routine go hand in hand for sure. But, I think many runners overlook the benefits of taking rest days. This is especially true for masters runners like me who don’t recover as quickly from hard workouts and races. However, every runner is an experiment of one.

  2. Running is bad for your knees. It is a problem with genetics, not running. It is a fact that the more you keep moving, the less likely arthritis is going to be debilitating. With the right shoes and a slow ramp up, you probably won’t have any real issues at all.

  3. Amen, David. I’ve been distance running 36 years without knee problems. But the first thing non-runners ask is “How’s your knees?” My reply to them “most likely better than yours!”

Thoughts?