From misunderstandings about stretching to the idea you need a certain body type to be a runner, we’re taking a look at five of the most persistent running myths to find out whether there’s any truth in them…
The weather is improving, you’re sick of the sight of your front room and you’ve just bought some new trainers… sounds like the perfect time to head out for a run.
However, despite being probably the most accessible sport going, loads of us are put off pounding the pavements by a whole host of unhelpful myths, few of which are based on proper, robust facts.
So with that in mind, we’ve rounded up a host of experts to tackle some of those misapprehensions, helping to put your mind at rest and get your body moving.
1. Running is bad for your knees
The received wisdom would have you believe that running is particularly hard on your knees, but is that actually true?
Well, not according to Professor Paul Lee, a sports and orthopaedic surgeon at MSK Doctors.
“Research has shown that unless you’re a marathon runner, running regularly could in fact protect you against arthritis and the need for hip replacements as you get older,” explains Professor Lee.
“Provided you use the correct footwear and maintain correct posture, running can improve joint and bone health through placing stress upon them, which in turn can improve bone density.”
Physiotherapist Katie Knapton, founder of Physiofastonline agrees.
“There have been some recent studies showing that cartilage responds to running by becoming thicker and more durable,” she explains.
“Like any activity it needs to be started gently, with a gradual increase so as to not overload your body, but in general, you shouldn’t need to worry about it being bad for your knees.”
2. It's hard to stay motivated when you first start running
Of all the myths around running, this is probably the one we tell ourselves most, but really, is it just a cop-out?
“Yes, getting into running can take time and effort,” acknowledges Knapton, “so try and think of rewards to congratulate yourself on completing goals.”
“I would always recommend using some sort of app, like Strava, where you can pit yourself against other runners’ times (check out the lululemon run club for inspo), then also vary your routes to keep things interesting and see if you can get a friend to start at the same time to help maintain your impetus.”
Making sure you also have some shiny new kit is another good motivator and lululemon’s range of sweat-wicking running gear is a great place to start.
Running casually? The Fast and Free tight uses lightweight Nulux™ fabric for unrestricted movement, with both side and waistband pockets to stash everything from your phone to your keys.
Trying to improve your PBs? The Swift Speed tight is the way to go, made from a Luxtreme™ fabric with extra Lycra and no inseam for a smoother, more supported run.
3. You need a certain body type to be a runner
Forget the ridiculous notion that runners need to be tall and lithe – the beauty of going for a jog is that absolutely anyone can get out there and do it.
“There is no one kind of person that owns running,” says lululemon ambassador Mirna Valerio, an ultra marathon runner and running coach.
“Running belongs to all of us, whether we are slow, fast, short, tall, thin or not. It is what humans are built to do.”
“Is it harder for some than others? Sure. Are some of us more preternaturally talented at it? Yes. But none of this means that we cannot engage in this simple movement of the human body.”
According to Knapton, the key thing is not to take on too much too soon.
“It is all in the approach and training and gradual loading of tissues,” she explains.
“Vary running surfaces to help your body adjust as you get started, and think about taking up cross-training as well to avoid injuries as much as possible.
“Our bodies are great at adapting – after all, that’s what training is for.”
4. You need to stretch before you run
“Research has shown that stretching before any type of exercise actually makes muscles weaker and slower,” Professor Lee explains.
“Jogging on the spot is a better warm-up activity. Injured muscles occur when they are placed under too much stress, not through inflexibility but lack of strength or inability to contract at the right moment.
“Pre-running stretches will not prevent this from happening.
“Instead, a warm-up activity that simulates the same movement as running will increase blood circulation to the muscles and create energy.”
So there you go – you still need to warm up, just in a less annoying, fiddly way.
5. Runners usually pick up injuries
Obviously, there is a certain risk of injury with all physical activity, but there’s no reason why running should put you at any particular risk, particularly if you combine it with strength training.
“There is evidence to suggest that doing strength training on a regular basis can help reduce the risk of developing a running-related injury by anything up to 40-50%,” says sports podiatrist Nick Knight.
“Just 18 minutes of strength training, three times a week, can help make that difference.”
Knapton also recommends strength training as a way to combat injury risk.
“Due to the repetitive nature of running it’s a really sensible idea to do some general strengthening,” she explains.
“Being globally strong can help running performance and reduce the chance of injuries.”
Inspired to get your trainers on and start clocking up the miles? lululemon’s range of running gear is designed to support day-to-day runners, helping you to feel and perform your best, whether you’re out for a casual jog or competing in your first 10k. Shop the range here.