Last Updated on September 16, 2019 by Heather Hart, ACSM EP
Hey you, runner constantly talking down about yourself or pretending you defy the rules of exercise science. Yeah, you. I hear you saying things like: “I’m not fast enough. I’ll never be able to do that. That limp is nothing, it’ll go away if I run through it.” As a coach and fellow runner myself, I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong. These are just a few examples of running lies you’ve got to stop telling yourself. And here’s why:
The Seven Running Lies You’ve Got to Stop Telling Yourself
I’m not a real runner.
Listen, I’ve been running, and writing about running, for well over a decade now. No, I’m no grandmother of the running world or anything, but I’ve certainly acquired some sort of tenure. Therefore, I’m absolutely qualified to assure you the following:
YOU ARE A REAL RUNNER.
There is no pace or distance threshold to be considered a runner. There are no specific number of days a week or even a month that are required to obtain runner status. If you want to be a real runner, throw your hands in the air, shout “I AM A REAL RUNNER!” at your kids, dog, or next door neighbor, and go for a run. Boom, done. You’re in the club.
Anyone who tries to tell you that you aren’t a “real” runner because your marathon time isn’t fast enough, or because you haven’t run a marathon, or because you don’t wear a GPS watch, or anything silly like that can kindly go kick a rock. You’re a real runner, don’t let anyone ever take that from you.
I don’t need rest days.
Runners are stubborn. This most likely includes you (it’s OK to admit it, you’re among fellow stubborn peers.) I mean, we have to be in order to physically push ourselves through physical and emotional discomfort for miles upon miles. But runners are also stubborn when it comes to thinking that the normal rules of exercise science don’t apply to them, specifically.
I often see runners who skip rest days for one of two reasons:
- They “feel fine” and don’t feel like they “need” a rest day.
- They assume more running is the fast track to being a better runner, so they suck up the exhaustion and soreness and keep pushing.
Here’s the thing: rest days are an integral part of training, in which your body recovers from damage training has done, and makes physical adaptations that make you stronger. You NEED rest days. Ignoring this essential piece of training is a recipe for disaster, and will most likely lead to sub-par performance, or worse, injury.
I could never do that.
When talking with newer runners about various races or distances, I’m often met with a “I could never do that” response. Now, I do understand that distances or paces that are beyond your current limitations can seem absolutely impossible.
But, never say never.
The human body is an incredible machine. With proper training, adaptation, and time, almost anything is possible. Don’t sell yourself short!
That ache/pain will go away if I keep ignoring it.
This is, in my opinion, the most important of the running lies you’ve got to stop telling yourself.
Pain is NOT “weakness leaving the body”. Sorry to be a buzzkill on that motivational poster on your wall. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. Chances are good that ignoring the pain isn’t going to make it go away. Chances are even better that pushing through what causes the pain (running) is only going to make that pain worse.
I’ve seen countless runners push through the body’s warning signs only to end up with a stress fracture, or worse, than lands them on crutches and out of running for multiple months on end.
Acknowledge your pain, and if appropriate, seek professional medical advice to figure out what’s wrong, and how you can make it better.
I don’t need actually to train for races.
I am all for running being whatever you want it or need it to be. If you want to run only when you feel like it? Awesome. If you want to follow a strict training regimine, that’s great too.
But if you’re going to attempt crazy distances, you need to put in the work. Many runners have a tendency of “winging” races. I’m not one to point fingers: I’ve been there (more times than I care to admit!) Life happens, training gets put on the back burner. But consistently not training or races can get you in over your head, and lead to injuries or serious burnout.
Be realistic with your goals and current fitness levels. I promise that crossing a finish line when you have adequately prepared your body for the race is an incredible feeling, especially compared to dragging yourself across the finish line, wishing you had put in the time to train.
I can eat whatever I want, I’m training.
Let me preface the following paragraph with the statement that yes, you CAN eat whatever you want when you’re training. Or when you’re not training, for that matter. I’m not a registered dietician and I’m definitely not the food police.
But I can tell you that the constant excuse of “I can eat whatever I want because I just ran ___ miles” is a dangerous trap to fall into. Fuel your body with healthy foods, enough of them, and eat the junk in moderation. You want your nutrition to help heal and strengthen your body, not hinder all of the hard work you’ve put in.
I’ll never do that again.
Commonly heard at the finish line of races is something along the lines of “that was so hard. I’ll never do that again.”
Yeah, you will.
“I’ll never do that again” is an infamous statement said by many runners in the depths of post race soreness, and shortly before they head on over to ultrasignup or runsignup and register to do “that” all over again. Like the pain of childbirth, you quickly forget, and only remember the good parts, wondering fondly when you’ll get to experience it all over again. It’s OK, we all do it.
If you catch yourself in any of these lies – stop. We’ve all said them before and we’ll probably say them again, but as a coach and a long time runner who wants to ensure everyone continues to have a lifelong relationship with running: STOP TELLING YOURSELF THESE LIES!