Running has been described as the world's most accessible sport and has existed in that form for thousands of years. Unsurprisingly it has attracted many theories on how it should be done, a lot of which originated a long time ago when research was not as advanced as it is now. So we set out to see if there's any truth to these myths.
1. Can I run while pregnant?
This one is always controversial. Running can help increase the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients to a developing baby while the mother is pregnant and therefore can be beneficial to both mother and child.
This being said, use your common sense. Do not try to increase your speed or distance while pregnant as the body is already under enough stress. As always for any topic involving pregnancy, if in doubt see your doctor when making a decision.
2. Should I eat a mountain of pasta before a race?
For some people this is, by far, the single best thing about running. 'Got a 5K fun-run at the weekend? You'd better spend all week eating every carb in sight, culminating with eating your own body-weight in pasta the night before!'
The bad news is that unless you're going to be running for more than two hours there just really isn't any need and it's safer to eat the food you always eat so you know how your stomach will react. If you are going to be running for more than two hours, start tapering up your carb intake a week or two before the race until carbs make up about 70% of your daily calories.
Note: Feel free to keep this debunked myth a secret if you like! ;)
"... runners are no more likely than non-runners to exhibit signs of joint issues or osteoarthritis."
3. Is running bad for your knees?
This statement is most commonly used by non-runners, we won't go in to why. However, research carried out by Stanford University and published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows that runners are no more likely than non-runners to exhibit signs of joint issues or osteoarthritis.
Running may bring problems to light if you have a genetic predisposition to knee issues but studies have also shown that running may help the condition as it strengthens the muscles surrounding the joints. As always, make sure that your form is good and your shoes are up to scratch.
4. Should I stretch before I run?
When we get injured we are often told we probably need to stretch more. From the early days of primary school sports we are taught to stretch and at the start line of a race we see runners having the biggest stretch of their lives but is it actually good?
The short answer, no. There is no evidence to suggest it improves performance and by "static stretching" you actually run the risk of causing an injury. Anyone who has overstretched knows this only too well.
Experts agree that your pre-run time is much better spent warming up with some slow jogging, arm swinging and shoulder shrugging to slowly increase your heart-rate. Stretching after a run is generally still recommended, just don't stretch to the point where it causes discomfort.