Discover the importance of rest, the drawbacks of running daily, and how much running mileage you really need to put on with these tips for running. What do you think – are these running myths accurate? What are some other outrageous claims you’ve heard? Debunk some of your favorite running myths and share some training tips in the comments below!
1. More mileage is better
When running, it’s often more about quality not quantity. Examine your training goals to determine the running mileage you need to put in to meet them. There’s no point running miles for miles sake unless it’s part of the journey. The main thing is to have a goal. You wouldn’t drive your car without a destination! Are you training to build speed, increase your lactose threshold, improve your endurance, get stronger, or just for fun? All of these can help improve a mile time or marathon time, perhaps more than increasing your running mileage. I’ve been lucky enough to get away with 30 miles a week and still get sub 2.45 hour marathons, but I think it’s also because my training is very focused. However, if you are training for longer runs, you do have to keep your distance up a bit. You can’t expect to run an ultra if you never go out for a long day. Even if your training regimen has a lower running mileage like mine, make sure you work in a few ten miler or marathon days every so often.
2. Rest is bad
Rest is important. It’s often more important than the training since you’ll damage your muscles further and waste all that hard work if you don’t get a good rest. If you have an injury, or just a pain nagging at you, don’t push through it, take a little time off to heal. If you need to be doing something – cross train. I’m always slightly nervous of people who don’t need sleep or underestimate the importance of rest. Sleep is when your body recovers and your muscles heal. I’m always either on or off, training to run a marathon or sleeping!
3. Hitting a wall
Life is full of challenges and I don’t believe in “the wall,” referred to in many marathon discussions. I believe hitting a wall is a choice. If you are giving it all you can at around 21 miles, then you’ll know you have a choice. You can either slow down or dig deep and finish strong. That’s what I do. If you want to avoid hitting a wall, you need to focus on proper physical preparation (nutrition, training, running mileage, etc) before the race, maintenance during the race and your focus and state of mind. As an ultra-runner the choice to give up or push on occurs regularly during a run, just as in life. Defining the choice as a “wall” turns it into some strange, unbeatable phenomenon. You start to feel like you can’t physically break through a running wall despite all the tag lines! But you can hydrate and train and fuel well, then when you feel the muscles aching and the fatigue coming, make that choice to push on. I like the analogy made in “Born to Run” about facing off the “beast.” You may still end up hitting a wall, we all have off days. But when you do, will you let it defeat you, or will you push through it?
4. Running every day
This will probably cause a stir but running daily is not necessarily a good thing. Your body needs rest. You are not as indestructible as you think you are. Joints and muscles need rest to recuperate and strengthen. However, just because you aren’t running daily, doesn’t mean you aren’t being active! One of the world’s best trail runners has a great routine that includes skiing, mountaineering, cycling and hiking.
During most of the winter months you can get away with not running much at all. Instead, hit the bike every so often. If you want a long running career and don’t want labral tears in your hip joints, or worn knee cartilage, mix up your training and avoid running daily!
5. It’s all about racing
Racing can be a great motivation, and lately, there has been a huge explosion in the amount of ultra-runners out there – is it the new spin class?! As a result of the increased interest, there has been a rapid increase in the amount of races available, including local half marathons, charity 5ks, mud races and more. Most of these races demand high entry fees, certainly a lot higher than the running club festivals that were the previous staple. It’s great to see the increase in this sport, but with it comes a new breed of runner that’s focussed on one thing – time. Beating a PR in a race, conquering a new course, going faster each time – all of these have become more important than enjoying the run. But I think if as a runner all you do is train and race, then you are missing out on something amazing about running. (Not that there’s anything wrong with trying to .)
Everyone in the running community talks about barefoot running (I’m not entering the debate!) and how we are “born to run.” They cite the fact that humans used to run many miles trying to catch animals on multi-day hunts. If this was the case, back then people ran as teams, unified in their one goal. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with racing (I race too!) or using a race as a training goal, but I’ve often found that on multi-day runs, on a stunning wild route is the most exciting and liberating feeling. So, get out there and run the wild!