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Healthcare Series: Myths of Running

Sep 21st, 2015

By: Andy and Natalie Fenton, Fleet Feet Louisville

It seems like a simple task.  Since the beginning of time, animal chases man, man runs.  Man chases woman, woman runs.  Running is in our DNA.  It is simple!  So then why is it so complicated, difficult and painful?

Modern running as a form of exercise is a fairly new concept, emerging out of the running boom in the 70’s.  Running as a sport has emerged from a fringe sport for crazy people into the most popular adult athletic activity in the United States.  So with all the popularity and attention, why is it that running still has an incredibly high injury rate and so many people struggle to meet their goals?  I want to lay out a few myths that many people have bought into and which running culture even tends to perpetuate that are keeping us from enjoying this sport to its fullest.

MYTH 1: Running is Cheap

If you’ve been running for any length of time you’ve probably already busted this myth yourself.  However, I think there is more to this belief than what it says on the surface.  Yes, running is not cheap in that you have items to purchase like shoes, running clothes, socks and race entry fees.  These items add up, and if you manage to stay healthy, you’ll find that they are also recurring.  So if it’s so obvious on the surface that running is not cheap, what about this myth continues to hurt runner after runner, besides their pocket book?  The problem I see often is sacrificing the quality of the product for the quantity on the price tag.  Did you know? 1. The cushioning in running shoes that have been sitting on a retail shelf (or in your closet) has already begun breaking down even if they’ve never been worn.  2. Rotating multiple pairs of (different) running shoes into your rotation will not only help both pairs last longer, there is scientific evidence that it will help you avoid injury.  3. When it comes to clothes and socks, material and thread count matter.  Most of the “cheaper” options out there are made with cheaper materials (including cotton which acts like a sponge for moisture when you sweat) and have substantially lower thread counts which means they are much less efficient at wicking away moisture. 

Bottom Line: Invest in yourself, invest in your sport.  It may cost a little more in the moment but it will pay off in your health and sanity.

MYTH 2: There is a PERFECT running shoe for me

Again, with this myth, there are multiple layers to this untruth.  First of all, I often see this myth lead to an unhealthy view of the shoe as the ultimate “problem” or “solution.”  With running there are a lot of moving parts, and while the shoe may be a part of the problem or solution, it is rarely the only thing going on.  The second problem here is that once you find your “SOUL mate” you feel you can never deviate from it.  I see people all the time hunting down a model of a shoe that was made 5 years ago because that was “the ONE.”  Did you know? 1. The main predictor for foot health in running as it relates to shoes is comfort.  If someone tells you that a certain shoe will fix all your problems but it doesn’t feel good, run away (literally).  2. Nearly every running shoe on the market updates at least once per year.  Often, shoe designers will move from company to company, technology will change, and the new version of your shoe may be completely different than the one you have now.   3. As with Myth 1, old shoes wear out even if you don’t wear them.

Bottom Line: Get help from a specialty running store employee with what types of shoes will work best for your running style, and then try a few things out to see what feels best.  And don’t go hunting down a new pair of those Asics you bought in 2008, please, just don’t.

MYTH 3: Running is easy

You may be laughing at this point, but underneath the “duh” your collective running injury collection just gave out, I think most people still hold this view to some degree.  Consider the amount of preparation and work we put into other sports: the types of varied practice, the required warm-ups, and the amount of literature written on the subjects that participants seek out for help.  When it comes to running, we tend to think we can just “wing it.”  Many of the most common running injuries that I see come from the fact that runners only run and they always run the same way.  They don’t put any thought into their form, the surfaces they’re running on, the fact that they never move side to side, or the types of workouts they do on a weekly basis.  Each of these factors can have a huge impact on your physical health and even varies from person to person.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated, but it should be intentional.  Did you know? 1. Many running related injuries could be easily solved by introducing a couple forms of cross training into your routine.  2. When you run, you generate anywhere from 3-5 times your body weight in force into your feet.  That means the biomechanics we use and the surface we land on matter, a lot.  3. Runners who set a goal and create a plan to accomplish tend to be more successful at meetings their goals than those who don’t. 

Bottom Line:  Take advantage of the resources that are available to you, set goals, and stick to a plan.  Consider varying up your work outs by changing the surface (try trails), the intensity (speed and hill work) and the distance (if you’re always running easy, try a shorter distance at a quicker pace).

About the Series
The YPAL Healthcare Blog Series, sponsored by Norton Healthcare, is part of the new Healthy YP Initiative, which will focus on the health and well-being of our Louisville Young Professionals. This blog series will feature various young professional bloggers in our community sharing their stories on health, wellness, nutrition, fitness and healthy lifestyles.

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