The truth about training: five myths busted for runners

Whether you’re in training for your very first organised running event, getting into running or unsure of how to start your running preparation, you’ve taken the first step and that’s often the hardest part.

Health and Wellbeing Queensland Chief Executive, Dr Robyn Littlewood shares some tips and busts some myths to help get you on track.

“I challenge you to have fun as you get ready to head to the bridge this year!”

Myth 1: Running damages your knees

The idea that running can damage your knees has been one of the most pervasive myths in the running community. It’s a myth and, in fact, it’s the contrary that’s true! Even though running is defined as a high impact sport, the exercise strengthens muscles and joints, which can prevent injury, and can be beneficial in the management and prevention of pain for long term health.

Myth 2: Carb load the night before a race

One of the most memorable pieces of advice I received ahead of my first cross-country race in high school was to “make sure you eat more food ahead of the race”. In hindsight, this was wrong. The reality is, a normal healthy diet gives you plenty of energy to get you through a short run.

If you’re planning on running for two hours or more though, you should look to increase your carbohydrate consumption slowly in the days leading up to your run, not just the day before.

Myth 3: Rest jeopardises progress

Going backwards in performance is one of the greatest fears for some runners. The reality is your body needs to rest and recover before it can push even further forward. Listen to your body and let it rest. You will know when is a good time to start again.

It’s okay to take an extra day off training in the lead up to a race. Life happens and an extra day of rest here and there won’t take you all the way back to the beginning.

Myth 4: Only long runs count 

Some people might feel they need to go for a significant run for it to count as training. This isn’t true! In fact, any kind of training is great; whether you’re running to the end of the street, around the block or heading off for a few kilometres. Smaller runs or walks are a great way to loosen up your muscles and joints, and will prepare you for tougher challenges in the future.

Myth 5: Any stretch will do 

Stretching is important to warm up your muscles before you run but runners do need to be careful when choosing their stretches. Stretching cold muscles or focusing on static stretches can actually cause sprains! Aim for dynamic stretches, or stretches which get your body moving, before you head off on a run.