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7 Bad Pieces of Running Advice De-Bunked: Stop Listening to These Strength Training LIES

You didn't think it was possible.

You've found simultaneously too much and too little helpful running advice on the internet.

And now you're more confused then when you started.


Not to mention, every article, blog post, and youtube video seem to disagree with each other.

(I dont know...maybe this one included?)


How about we skip the overwhelm and debunk the 7 most common BAD pieces of running advice.


Because true talk:

You might have heard or read these 7 pieces of "advice" as good things to do, or even encouraged.


That's why we need to debunk them NOW:

That last thing you want is to end up with a running injury that was entirely avoidable (but the internet was dumb and tricked you).


Let's jump in.


BAD Running Advice # 1: You don't to do strength, just stretching.

  • I'm going to come out and say it: stretching is optional. (yes, even as a physical therapist, I think stretching can be optional)

  • What's NOT optional: knowing that running is a high impact activity, meaning you are slamming your entire body weight into the ground, on one leg, over and over again.

  • BUT KNOW: Your body isn't fragile; it won't break instantaneously. But the only way to prepare your body for the hard, high impact of running is to do something harder: like strength training. Which is why # 2 makes me die inside...

BAD Running Advice # 2: You don't need to strength train to be a strong runner

  • Some runners are naturally strong and fast. It's the result of winning the genetic lottery. But not all of us are that lucky.

  • I've had runners in the clinic who have been running for 35+ years and never done strength (or mobility work) and are only now, in they're 50's developing pain or an injury.

  • So while you may be to avoid strength training and still be a strong runner thanks to genetics, you're actually SABOTAGING yourself.

  • To become the STRONGEST, BEST runner you can be, you must strength train! But most runner's response to this is # 3...


BAD Running Advice # 3: I don't need to lift if I run hills all the time!

  • I get it; I thought this for the longest time too, pre-PT school. Hills are akin to resistance training BUT...

  • hills are no substitution for SQUATTING YOUR BODY WEIGHT. (no you don't have to do that, but it does make the point).

  • Hills help build a lot of things: aerobic capacity, mental toughness, and to a degree leg strength.

  • But think of running hills this way: hills are where you test out your running engine. But you build and put together that running engine in the gym by lifting heavy. Starting to see how this fits together? Which is why # 4 is a knife to my heart...


BAD Running Advice # 4: Body weight exercises are all you need

  • let me be clear: there is no shame with starting with body weight and even progressing body weight exercises! There's a lot of strength and stability that can be built with these exercises

  • But if you're looking to run your best, run longer, harder, further, stronger...there's nothing better than strength training to help you achieve your goals.

  • STORY TIME: I went on a body-weight only kick for a while. And the workouts were still hard and challenging, but my running remained meh.

  • I Finally picked up some weights, got deliberate about building strong quads, and my runner's knee and patellar chrondomallecia left the building. Thinking of that, I don't remember the last time my right knee hurt since I've been lifting regularly.

BAD Running Advice # 5: You don't need it lift heavy to strength train

  • Yup, I've made this mistake, too. that being said...

  • there's also NO SHAME in learning how to lift. Being unsure of and confused as to what lifting heavy actually means.

  • TRULY lifting heavy takes PRACTICE. and time. and literal reps.

  • easy way to know if you're actually lifting heavy: if you reach the end of your reps and feel like you had more than 2 left in the tank, you probably didn't go heavy enough.

  • BUT WHY LIFT HEAVY? It's only through the stimuli of lifting something heavier than mormal that our muscles recieve the physiological "message" to grow bigger. it would be like only running 3 miles but expecting yourself to be able to run a marathon.

BAD Running Advice # 6: You only need low weight and high reps to strength train like a runner

  • this was a popular lifting method for runners for a loooooonngg time, even backed by science!

  • We know better now. We know that running performance (your running economy, ability to run effciently, faster, longer, stronger) is directly improved by challenging your body with the stimuli of lifting something heavy.

  • it was thought that low weight/high reps mimicked running, therefore building "running strength".

  • that's not true now that science understands how high impact running actually is. This high impact calls for....you guessed...heavier strength training. This is why #7 breaks my heart...

BAD Running Advice # 7: You don't need strength training as a runner, even if you're over 40

  • This one is for my MASTER RUNNERS (or anyone who wants to keep running for life).

  • LADIES: we start to lose bone density starting in our early-mid 30's

  • MEN: you're lucky and you're bone density doesn't start to be affected until age 50-70+ (i know, quite the range.)

  • THIS IS PREVENTABLE for EVERYONE!

  • Running is cool where because of it's high impact we do maintain a bit more bone density compared to the average, general active person, but there is no substitute for regularly lifting heavy. Not only does this prevent running injuries, help preserve bone density, but I swear lifting is the fountain of youth.


WRAPPING UP

Feeling better?

Not so scatter-brained and confused by the wild, wild, interwebs?

It can be a scary place out there.

Full of competing information when all you want is a clear, straight forward answer.


If you have any questions left over or any running advice you want confirmed or debunked, leave it in the comments below!


Because I promise, if you have that question...another runner does, too.


If you're looking for ways to start strength training like a runner, I have a FREE strength guide to get you started :)


And until next time, running fit fam...


Dare to Train Differently,

Marie Whitt, PT, DPT // @dr.whitt.fit

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