LGN's Top 10 Running Myths Exposed!

Friday, 16th December 2011

LGN’s Top 10 Running Myths Exposed

New Years day 2012, Chariots of Fire is the midday afternoon film once more soothing your festive hangover and slowly a memory emerges from the night before, a memory of a cast iron New Years resolution you made - to run a marathon – because “if you are going to take up running for fitness it has to be the marathon” and as you reflect you agree with your previous logic and think, ‘Yeah, why not?’
Inspiration is a wonderful emotion and one that often leads us to at least try things we might otherwise never have experienced.
At LGN we train many people inspired by the marathon but we also invest a lot of energy talking people out of initially focusing on running 26 miles as to us the requirement for runners to have to complete a marathon is a solid gold running myth.

And as we mused how magnetic this myth was to many people, we thought it might be good to dispel a few additional running myths so you can begin or extend your journey with fact not fiction:

1. To be a ‘real runner’ I need to do a marathon?

As mentioned some people seem to think that to be a ‘proper’ runner you have run a marathon – not so, possibly the strongest thing many runners can do is become inspired by the marathon, perhaps even get a coveted place but decide to channel that inspiration into a variety of different running distances or events.
The key problem is that many people who tackle the marathon do so from a limited running base, as their functional fitness is not yet adapted, a high percentage either suffer with injury and or mentally struggle so much that 26 mile distance if completed can become a running end point rather than a platform for future enjoyable running. Therefore we often discussing alternative initial options, as never before have the running alternatives been so numerous or varied. We all have hugely varying physiologies, lifestyles, motivations and indeed physical injury histories, a one-size 26 mile template definitely does not fit all.
To conclude the team at LGN consider a ‘real runner’ to be someone who has simply found a way to use & enjoy their running regardless of distance and speed.

2. The further the better?

Even training for a marathon doesn’t just require building up your miles, it’s far more effective to mix your training with short 20–40min runs and learn to play with subtle tempo change.
Above all you have to be able to enjoy your running most of the time to have consistency and thus improve (take a look at previous ‘Tip of the Month’ Beginners’ Running Guide for more detailed info).

3. Jogging isn’t running, is it?

Yes it is! As long as both feet are off the ground anyone time while moving forward you are running.
Possibly more a state of mind distinction than anything else and in fact walk / running is probably the best place for most beginners to start, so forget the words and just concentrate on the physical actions.

4. Must drink water like a fish while running:

If you are properly hydrated prior to going for a run of less than 60 minutes there is minimal requirement to take extra water with you. A good way to assess your hydration levels is by checking the colour of your pee each day as per chart below, ideally you are aiming for colours 1 – 3, darker than this and dehydration will be likely.
Just remember it takes 36 – 48 hours to hydrate fully down to a cellular level, so more important to think about staying hydrated when not running, rather than struggling to run with a bottle which will normally help you hydrate for tomorrow.

5. No sex before races:

Remember the famous Rocky film quote, when his trainer Mickey shouts at him – “Women . . . Weaken . . . Legs”, this plus classic tales of Muhammad Ali abstaining for 6 weeks prior to a major fight would tend to make think there might be come credence to it.
However, the research simply does not back up this myth, in fact due to raised testosterone levels after sex and increased likelihood of deeper sleep if anything it is to be encouraged. The available research also indicates no loss off strength or endurance from such nocturnal activities… within reason. So we at LGN say relax and enjoy letting go of your much-heralded Corinthian restraint.


6. Running is bad for your knees:

Robust research clearly demonstrates this to be another classic myth, the Stanford University research study followed hundred of subjects over a 14 year period and demonstrated runners can enjoy less musculo-skeletal or arthritic problems versus non-runners.
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However, to achieve these benefits LGN fully endorses a gentle progressive approach to running, wearing biomechanically correct footwear, and bearing in mind the initial 12 – 16 week period when the majority of connective tissue adapts to running impact. (Please refer to LGN’s ‘3 C Philosophy’ for guidance on our gentle & progressive approach)

7. Walking is as good as running for fitness:

When it comes to burning calories, no it isn’t! Walking burns approximately 50 to 60% less calories than running for the same amount of time. Walking also burns approximately 5 to 15% less calories than running when covering the same distance.
And that is just calories when you also look at cardiovasular fitness progression walking simplys looks pedestrian... 
However, walking is a superb way to slowly introduce your body to the joy of running, so get walking and if all goes well get running!

8. “If it aint hurtin - it aint workin”:

The most important initial running ingredient is consistency and this will never be maintained if your running is taking you to your outer physical limits on each and every run.
What will work is consistency slowly laced with weekly running efforts that begin to challenge your physiology and over time requiring physical adaptation. But this does take time and can only be done after a foundation of relaxed, smile-inducing, consistent, easy running has been laid down.

9. Treadmill ‘Fat Burning Zone’ is the answer:

If you are starting your running at the gym and happy to see that the ‘Fat Burning Zone’ is actually the very slow running treadmill pace, ‘happy days’ you think as you lightly jog while watching MTV . . .

As mentioned earlier, gentle running to build consistency is vital in the early stages, but don’t be fooled that this pace of running burns more fat and calories than running quicker. Gyms will do all they can to let people think you can get fit by not having to sweat, for fear you cancel your membership.
The body does indeed burn a higher percentage of calories from fat in the 'Fat Burning Zone' or at lower intensities.  But, at higher intensities, you burn a greater number of overall calories which is what you should eventually be concerned about when trying to lose weight.

The chart below details the fat calories expended by an average 59kg woman during cardio exercise and provides an estimate of her heart rate (HR) %
Low Intensity - 60-65% HR
High Intensity - 80-85% HR
Total Calories expended per min.
Fat Calories expended per min.
Total Calories expended in 30 min.
Total Fat calories expended in 30 min.
Percentage of fat calories burned

In this example, the woman burns more total calories and more fat calories at a higher intensity, even though the fat calorie % is lower. This isn't to say that low intensity exercise doesn't have its place. In fact, endurance workouts as discussed should be a staple of a complete fitness program along with shorter, higher intensity workouts which are a great way to burn calories and build endurance.

10. Politicians are no good:

Welcome to our LGN red herring, as the world economy continues to make negative headlines we believe that this is indeed the one mythical statement.. now dont lynch us all at once because when it comes to running they certainly not all 'bad'.

• Seb Coe ex Conservative MP and London 2012 architect was the only man to win two Olympic gold medals over 1,500m.

• The ex Liberal leader Sir Menzies Campbell represented Team GB at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, held the prestigious British 100m record from 1967 to 1974 and was known as ‘the fastest white man on earth’ after twice recording a time of 10.2 seconds.

• Chris Chataway once Conservative MP for Lewisham North and also the man to pace Roger Bannister to the first sub 4 minute mile and indeed win Commonwealth Gold and European Silver for the 5,000m.

• And in fact even Jeffrey Archer won an Oxford Blue for athletics and represented England

And there we have it, running myths exposed - however, for those who don’t like the idea of running without the allure of a decent myth, how about signing up for the 2012 Loch Ness Marathon?!

Enter via www.lochnessmarathon.com


Happy myth free running from all the team at LGN!






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