10 myths about running: Busted!
Seasoned runners reveal the truth
Myth: Not everyone can run.
Truth: With the right training and enough discipline, anyone can take up running. “Running is like breathing. You have to find the best way for yourself through patient self exploration,” says actor Milind Soman, who is known to run barefoot. He took part in his first half marathon in 2004, and has been hooked ever since. It took him five years to graduate to full marathons. This year, at the age of 50, Soman successfully completed the Ironman Triathlon, one of the world’s toughest races.
Myth: Running is bad for your knees.
Truth: “Running causes knee injuries when you only run,” says Delhi-based wellness and fitness expert Sumaya Dalmia. “To avoid them, supplement your running with exercises that strengthen the muscles around your knees, glutes and core. Also remember not to increase your mileage too quickly — running for two to three days a week is sufficient. Plus, you shoud run on different terrains, sometimes on a treadmill, sometimes on soft tracks and sometimes on road.”
Myth: Start with basic stretching.
Truth: “Static stretches don’t warm you up and can cause injuries later,” warns fashion designer Namrata Joshipura, 44, who’s been running for the last five years. “Dynamic stretches, wherein you gently propel your muscles towards their maximum range of motion, warm up your body, and help you run better.” Leg swings, heel-ups, tip-toe walking, single-leg squats and push-ups with rotation are examples of dynamic stretches.
Myth: You should start young.
Truth: “I started running at 37; I was a completely non-sporty person before that,” says Sukriti Talwar, ambassador for the SBI Pinkathon (a health and breast cancer awareness marathon for Indian women), this year. “The first day I ran, I did a whole round of Lodhi Garden quite effortlessly, to my surprise. This motivated me and I continued for two to three months. Then, in 2013, I signed up for the three-kilometre Pinkathon run and ended up doing 10km. After that there was no looking back.”
Myth: Running in cold weather is bad for your lungs.
Truth: This is a prevalent belief among walkers and joggers (especially in Delhi) due to the burning sensation they experience in their chest while working out in winter. Mamta Gupta, 34, co-founder of Zariin Jewellery, who ran the Ladakh Marathon last month, puts paid to it, “Cold weather has nothing to do with running, provided you warm up sufficiently, and are suitably dressed.” Your running clothes should make you feel warm and comfortable, not cold and sticky. “It’s a good idea to dress in layers so that you can take off or add on as you need. Cold air can dry your airways so carry a bottle of water to stay hydrated,” says Gupta. You could also wear a scarf that covers your nose and mouth to trap some of the moisture lost through exhaled air.
Myth: Runners don’t need the gym.
Truth: “When I signed up for my first marathon, I was almost married to the treadmill. Despite that, I didn’t feel like I had the endurance to make it to the finish line,” says fashion-media consultant Rashi Bhimani. “Soon I also developed runner’s knee, the love child of running and not strengthening weaker parts of my body.” It’s then that she started strength training. “I began working on my quads, hamstrings, hip flexors and calf muscles, with a lot of squats, lunges and box jumps. Almost immediately, I was able to see the difference in my endurance level.” At the 2014 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, Bhimani was not only able to finish the race, but was able to do it comfortably, without losing stamina.
Myth: Load up on carbs before running.
Truth: “While you do need to have carbs before running, how much you need depends on various factors,” cautions designer Priyadarshini Rao, 44, who took up running three years ago. “For instance, you don’t need to stock up on carbs for short distances. But you need a meal that is 75 per cent carbs and 25 per cent protein, about 12 hours before a marathon,” she says. While running, your body uses glycogen produced from carbs to burn fat. Therefore, a carb-rich dinner is recommended; just don’t eat the saturated variety like white bread or pasta. Opt instead for healthy alternatives like brown rice, and supplement with a small sugar meal (like a banana or berries).
Myth: Any sports shoes will do.
Truth: The way your feet feel immediately after a workout is a good indication of whether you have the right kind of running shoes. According to actor and fitness enthusiast Gul Panag, 36, who recently started the running app, FirstRun, “Expert advice on your striding and pronation [the inward movement of the foot as you run, critical to proper shock absorption] is essential to buying the perfect pair.” The wear and tear of your old running shoes helps determine whether you pronate outward, inward or have a neutral movement. “A qualified salesperson can help you pick the right shoes by looking at your old pair,” she advises.
Myth: Running bulks up your legs.
Truth: In reality, it helps you burn fat all over, including from your thighs. Fashion consultant Aastha Sharma, 29, has been running since her college days and guarantees that it doesn’t make your legs bulky. “Running at a moderate, consistent speed, with the right posture, helps build your core. I try to run at least two to three times a week, which is more than enough to rid your body of water retention and give you a leaner, healthier frame.”
Myth: Pregnant women shouldn’t run.
Truth: While this is a point of contention in the running community, it really just depends on the woman’s health. Vineeta Singh, 32, co-founder of online beauty portal Fab Bag, who ran the DNA I Can Women’s Half Marathon when she was seven months pregnant, says, “Doctors advise healthy moms-to-be to exercise through pregnancy. This includes running, especially if the woman has previously been a runner. During my pregnancy, I was careful not to trip or let my heart rate shoot up. So, I was always running slower than my pre-pregnancy pace and both of us ended up being quite healthy.”