I loved this so much I had to share it:
SALT LAKE CITY — I was a trusting child. I believed anything and everything anyone in authority — or anyone who was simply older than I — told me.
If I crossed my eyes too long, they would stay crossed.
Swallowed gum would literally gum up my insides.
Wearing hats will make me bald.
Boys have cooties. (According to my daughters, that one is true.)
Myths are often perpetuated to encourage desired behavior. Often times they discourage what could potentially be a wonderful adventure.
For many, the world of running is a mysterious, foreign land filled with goal-obsessed athletes who wear bright-colored wicking shirts and dine on GU’s and Powerade with peanut butter sandwiches for dessert.
Granted, running may not be appealing to everyone, but often times the reasons that keep people from venturing into the land of sweet sweat aren’t real reasons at all. I’m here to debunk a few of the myths surrounding my beloved sport.
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Myth No. 1: Real runners are fast.
It’s true that elite runners are fast, but only a tiny population of runners are considered elite. The vast majority of runners aren’t out to win big races or seek sponsorships from major shoe companies. Most are out to enjoy time outside, work out stress and get healthy. Only one major marathon in the country carries a qualifying time requirement: Boston. Other races simply require your money and presence.
Myth No. 2: Real runners race.
I know many runners who have no desire to ever set foot on a starting line of any race whether it be a 5K or a marathon. Paying an entrance fee and pinning on a bib number doesn’t make someone more of a runner; it simply makes them a racer. For many, running races adds unneeded stress and anxiety. Running should ease stress, not cause it.
Myth No. 3: Real runners use coaches.
Coaches aren’t just for elite or collegiate runners anymore. Especially with the help of the Internet, anyone can find a coach to help them meet their goals. But being coached isn’t a requirement to be a runner. I have worked with a coach in the past, but found that I work best alone. In fact, my most successful year in running happened sans coach.
Myth No. 4: Real runners are tall and skinny.
The truth of the matter is, if you run, you're a runner. Simple as that. There is no distance requirement. No size limit. No age limit. No speed test.
I confess that I used to believe this one, too. Many people begin running believing they, too, will magically transform into Ryan Hall or Kara Goucher. Truth is, runners come in every shape and size imaginable. If you’re new to running you can certainly expect to see your body transform, but often the changes we get are not the changes we anticipate. Sometimes they’re better. Go watch a race, even a marathon, and marvel at the vast array of body types that cruise by. It’s inspiring and reassuring.
Myth No. 5: Real runners run marathons.
Yes, marathons are my race of choice. I love the training. I love the long, lonely distances. That’s just me. For many, a marathon is the ultimate goal. Yet there are many runners who never come close to reaching that 26.2 mile marker and have no desire to attempt it. It’s not about the distance covered; some of the greatest runners in the world only run a few meters at a time. I dare anyone to tell Usain Bolt he’s not a runner.
Myth No. 6: Real runners just run.
If my body would allow me to run all day, every day and never break down, I would do it. If I never had to strength train again, I’d be a very happy girl. If the only exercise I ever got was running my favorite trails with my favorite people, I would be content. But my body does break down. My knees complain loudly and viciously when my glutes are weak. There are a few lucky ducks who can pile on the miles without ever cross-training, but they’re rare. Cross-training is a crucial part of most runner’s exercise diet. Not only does it give the body a break from the pounding, but it’s a mental break as well. Too much of a good thing is just too much.
“I run a little, but I’m not a real runner,” is one phrase that makes my ears ache. The truth of the matter is, if you run, you’re a runner. Simple as that. There is no distance requirement. No size limit. No age limit. No speed test. The only thing that makes someone a runner is lacing up their shoes and running. There’s beauty in the simplicity.
Real runners run.
MY THOUGHTS ON THIS:
I believed so many of these myths for a very long time and that is what kept me from trying running til I was 30! I believed you had to be a certain speed, certain size, yada, yada, yada. That was one of the most refreshing things about the sport to me when I did do my first couple of races was how many people did NOT fit that mold, and I was glad because I certainly didn't! I was also thrilled with how welcoming the running community was, and encouraging. If less people believed these myths, more people would probably try running in the first place!