7 Running Tips You Should Forget Right Now
We are now more than a generation removed from the first “mass participation” running boom, and well into the 2.0 version of the next. With so much information widely available trends, fads and the occasional universal truth have been disseminated for almost four decades. Today we sift through it all to dispel some of the least truthful nuggets of running rhetoric. These are the seven myths most commonly pushed by those not in the know.
More Mileage Leads to Burn Out and Injuries
For years I’ve read about the “dangers” of higher volume training. Burn out, chronic fatigue, joint pain and everything shy of bipolarism has been attributed to spending more time on the feet. The truth is quite the contrary. In my experience, athletes who run less at a higher intensity experience burn out and overall fatigue on a much greater scale compared to long distance runners who consistently run moderate volume at a lesser intensity. Eight times out of 10, the distance runners tend to be healthier and more motivated. It is the intensity which can fry an athlete, not the volume.
However, more is not always better; every athlete has his or her threshold for volume tolerance. Emerging research on older runners who have been running for decades actually shows that utilising interval work more often and pairing it with alternative forms of exercise can be more effective than simply upping total running volume.
The Marathon Is the Ultimate Event to Target
These days, more and more training groups introduce the marathon as the first targeted goal event for new runners. In this coach’s opinion, this is a great disservice not only to the athlete, but also to our sport. Allowing a runner, particularly one new to the sport, to dive into a marathon as the first targeted event often creates “one-and-done-bucket-list” types.
If a 5K is good, a 10K must be better, and a marathon is Mt. Everest and you are Sir Edmund Hillary. Not true. While the marathon is indeed the longest Olympic running event, there is no less value in pursuing excellence in the 5K or 10K. Much of this “marathon-is-the-be-all-end-all” attitude is a reflection of the idea that if an event is longer and more tortuous, it holds greater value. In truth, honing your mile, 5K, 10K and half marathon prowess takes just as much energy and focus. Do not feel the need to join the marathoning masses if it does not match your desires or lifestyle. Use shorter races such as 5Ks, 10Ks and half marathons for a few years before moving up to the marathon.
The More Racing, the Better
The running booms have brought millions of people to the roads and almost as many events, but too much racing can indeed have detrimental effects. When creating your goals and targets for the year, be certain to set up a few fitness tester races leading into your primary target race (or races).
Equally important, however, are interim weeks without racing to accentuate recovery and less frequent or non-existent racing during the base-building cycle that should happen early in the year. This stage promotes linear aerobic development. Racing consistently throughout the year, without planned rest, will result in cycles of staleness and fewer top-end peaks in racing.
If You Run Enough, You Can Eat Whatever You Like
Food is important for athletes, particularly those who practice endurance sports such as swimming, cycling and distance running. What we eat and drink allows us to fuel for and recover from our training and racing effectively.
For many years, long-distance runners have held the misconception that because of running’s “high-caloric-burn” nature, any food, regardless of nutritional or caloric value, suffices. Little is further from the truth. Runners need and benefit from healthy options as much as the general population. As we’ve seen in high-profile cases recently, issues such as coronary heart disease and are as likely to occur in endurance athletes as anyone.
Weights Do Not Help Distance Runners
Previously, experts were fond of referring to hill running as the only strength work a distance runner needs. Times are changing. The top long-distance runners in the world continue to execute the high volumes of training they did in years gone by; however, these runners also spend more time in the gym. From strengthening muscular weaknesses to improving biomechanical stability, strength training keeps more runners healthy, and improves overall power and explosiveness.
Go Minimal With Footwear
The last four to five years has seen one of the largest “new footwear category” booms in recent memory as minimalism hit new heights (or in this case lows) with a wave of slipper-like running shoes. The philosophy: the closer to barefoot, the better, and runners flocked to the concept.
The barefoot hysteria is now waning, and the feedback has been what podiatrists predicted from the onset: Runners will see greater frequency of injury in shoes with little to no midsole than traditional trainers. Are there exceptions to this rule? Yes. However, moving runners—particularly veteran runners who have been in traditional trainers for years—from a regular shoe to one with little to no support is a recipe for a visit to the podiatrist.
A Track Is Needed For Interval Training
Interval training, like all training for distance runners, can be executed in virtually any environment. Interval sessions commonly performed on the oval or track can be done just as effectively on the roads and trails of your home town. More runners are now finding that sessions normally thought to be “track only” can be implemented anywhere.
I encourage runners to opt for interval sessions occasionally based on time and feel rather than specifically on pace. For example, try 6 to 8 x 1:30 pick-ups at a moderate 80-percent effort with equal 1:30 jog recovery between in lieu of a 6 x 400m track session. The torque of turning on the track can be eliminated by doing this workout on a straight dirt road or grass field.
Thanks to Pete Rea from active.com