This post is in response to the Daily Prompt: Doubters Alert – What commonly accepted truth (or “truth”) do you think is wrong, or at least seriously doubt? Why?
Runners are creatures of habit. From the regimented training schedules, the clothes we wear while running, and even what we eat the night before a race, there is a fine line in each of our minds that cannot be crossed, forbid we have a bad race or run. In my twelve years of running I have had many of habits and learned a few things about myself along the way, some contrary to popular belief among runners. So, without further delay, here are my four biggest “truths” about running.
- Carbo-loading the night before a big race. Carbo-loading, or more commonly known as stuffing your face with pasta while talking about all the fun you’re going to have the next day, is my favorite thing to look at and go “that’s not right”. I have (had) a very high metabolism, so my body processes carbohydrates (simple and complex) very quickly. If I eat carbs the night before a race, there is a very good chance that I have burned up all that energy before the waking up the next morning. I prefer to eat protean the night before and a light meal the morning of. I think the best piece of advice I ever got was to ‘run a little hungry’, have energy in the system but don’t fill it up so that you become sluggish.
- The brand/type of shoes make all the difference. Hello?!?! Have you seen how many different brands/types of shoes people wear while running? Last time I checked, my favorite brand produces upwards of 16 different shoes for men alone and there are at least a dozen different major brands as well. There is a reason for this. Everyone’s feet are different, therefore everyone needs a different shoe. Even if one shoe is lighter than another, for most people it’s not going to make a difference. Don’t get caught up in the brand name or the color of the shoe either. Find a shoe that fits right and is comfortable. If the shoe fits and is comfortable you are less likely to get injured. No injury equals faster times.
- You need to stretch before and after each run. In college I subscribed to this one. I am tall, lean, and lanky. My muscles need to warm up and cool down otherwise I feel like I am more prone to injuring one. I have many friends and teammate who absolutely thought I was crazy for taking the extra time. But, in truth, their injury rate wasn’t any different than mine. Now that I am no longer in college I find myself not stretching as often before and after I run, and, would you look at that, my injury rate has not gone up. So the moral of the story here is to stretch when you feel like it, but it is not necessary before or after running.
- I need to replace my shoes when my knees/legs start to hurt. If you are at this point, and you are not running on a department/box store pair of shoes, you are probably well past the point of when you should have replaced your shoes. (If you running on shoes bought from a place like Walmart, please visit your local running store today.) I understand that shoes can be expensive (read $4,000 over five years in college), but having a non-overused pair on your feet makes a huge difference. A good rule of thumb is to replace your shoes every 300 miles or so if you use the same pair every day. If you rotate pairs, switch out at around 350-400 miles. Or if you’re like me, just get a new pair every time a new color comes out.
I have a few other “truths” about running that I don’t subscribe to that I may write about later, but these are the four that I hear the most. I get tired of hearing them day in and day out, or just getting asked for advice about running that most of the time, I just refer people to the local running store or tell them that running is not the same for everyone. The easiest way to become a runner is to just run and stop worrying about the other stuff. I think this is also may be a good prompt to expand out into a longer piece, so stay tuned.