Come March 19, I'll be tackling the Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon. To get into the right frame of mind, I sought the truth about common running myths. By Zarelda Marie Goh
Running was my go-to exercise for years and I have a half marathon to my name, which I did seven years ago without training properly. I remember taking days to recover from the fatigue and my back and legs were immensely sore. Shortly after that, a back injury unrelated to running and a wonky right knee threw a spanner in the works, and I was forced to focus on more low-impact workouts like yoga and barre. I did the 5km route at Shape Run 2016 in July, but only began training regularly when I accepted the challenge of training for a marathon.
So I’m literally starting from ground zero – at age 36 no less – since there’s been a long hiatus. Throw in the fact that I wasn’t doing much cardio, and you’ve got a beginner.
I feel apprehensive about this journey, but I honestly believe that overcoming fears are necessary for growth as a person. Thankfully, I have help. Andrew Cheong, a running coach with SSTAR.fitness, is dedicated to training runners of any ability. He is certified by the Road Runners Clubs of America, a qualified FISAF personal trainer, and has completed the IAAF Track and Field coaching course.
To set off on the right foot in the training programme, I got Andrew to set the record straight on running myths that I’ve heard of. Here, he debunks six myths.
Myth 1: Running is only for the young and fit
Andrew says, “Young is a state of mind and fitness is something everyone of all ages can achieve. In fact, many who run feel younger as they get fitter. Unlike other sports where youth has an advantage, such as gymnastics and swimming, running is a sport that anyone can do. As we age, our cardiovascular system, muscles and bones will not perform as well as someone younger. But age should not be a barrier to running.”
Myth 2: Running is bad for the knees
Andrew says, “Too much running is bad for the knees. That said, too much of anything is probably bad. Studies have shown that our bones and ligaments actually respond positively to load bearing exercise – like running – by getting stronger and denser. If you are not predisposed to osteoarthritis, and have normal knees and are of healthy weight, then running will not affect your knees.”
Myth 3: You have to run every single day to see results
Andrew says, “Rest is part of your training, so rest days are essential. Novices to intermediate runners will be optimum results if they run three times or week or on alternate days. Elite runners may train every day, or even twice a day on some days. It all depends on how much rest you need based on your work load.”
Myth 4: Running barefoot is the best way to run
Andrew says, “Barefoot running has been popularised by the book Born to Run, but it is not something for everybody. Those who have tried it report that they have better running gait, and even fewer injuries but mainstream runners prefer the comfort and protection that a good pair of running shoe provides. If you still want to try barefoot running, it’s best to start slowly and build up the mileage and intensity.”
Myth 5: You must always stretch before you run
Andrew says, There are various types of stretching, broadly divided into static and dynamic stretching. Before a run, it’s best to be warmed up, and dynamic stretching is recommended as part of a warm-up routine. However for slower runs, a simple jog could be enough to warm up and sometimes skipping the stretching is okay.”
Myth 6: Runners don’t need to build strength
Andrew says, “Like any sport, a certain level of strength is beneficial. Strength training is an essential part of a runner's training. Strong muscles help maintain good posture when running and reduce the risk of injury. Did you know the impact to your leg could be up to three times your bodyweight when you run? Running is a one-legged activity – you land one leg at a time – so it's best to have strong muscles to keep yourself balanced.”
Follow the rest of Shape editor Zarelda Marie Goh's journey at www.shape.com.sg/myfirstmarathon.
This article is brought to you by Skechers.