Running is one of the most popular ways to get in shape. From leisurely jogs in the park to 5k races with friends to competitive marathons, there's something for everyone who wants to make running a part of their life. But as with any sport, there are a lot of misconceptions about running. Conflicting information can be seen all over the place, from naysayers who decry running as a dangerous activity to diehard runners who swear that it's the be-all and end-all of exercise. Fortunately, with a little investigating, it doesn't take long to debunk many of these myths.
A person doesn't have to look like a rail-thin elite marathoner in order to be a runner. People of all shapes and sizes can run. It's important to keep in mind that the intensity and volume of running needs to be adjusted to reflect a person's current physical ability. It's also wise for anyone starting out on a new running program to consult with their physician first.
Running can help a person lose weight, but it's not the only way. Any type of challenging and safe physical activity done regularly can assist a person with weight-loss. Things like swimming, hiking, and lifting weights are all viable, and depending on physical ability and interest these options may be more appealing to a person than just running. Of course, proper nutrition and stress management are also important components of any weight-loss program.
It's important to prepare the body before any physical activity, but stretching muscles that aren't warmed-up can cause damage. It's better to stretch after a run when the muscles are warm and do dynamic movements like jumping jacks prior to running to get the heart rate up and the body prepared.
Minimalist shoes with flat soles and little support can help some people, but they don't always prevent or reduce injuries. On the flip side, heavily cushioned shoes may not necessarily reduce injuries, either. Every runner needs to learn and practice proper running technique first and then find shoes that suit their individual needs.
"Carb-loading" is common among many runners, which involves consuming lots of carbohydrates (like pasta and fruit) prior to running. But with physical activities lasting less than 90 minutes, carb-loading hasn't been shown to improve performance. Instead of carb-loading, runners should simply focus on maintaining a balanced diet full of healthy proteins, fats, and carbs.