When you start out on this trail running obsession you will hear all kinds of advice. What you should wear,how much you should drink, eat and train. What the best shoes are, should you be stretching before hitting the trail and how much carbo-loading should you be doing before a race. There are plenty of opinions out there, that will confuse as well as provide clarity. Here are just a few myths that have been debunked.
You must always stretch before you start running
Doing a few static stretches before you start out on your run isn't going to prevent you from getting injuries. It also won't help improve your performance. Save the static stretching for when you return from the trail, all sweaty and muddy. Before you start out do a proper warm-up that gradually gets your heart-rate increasing and slowly warms up those muscles.
Your muscles are cramping, you are lacking potassium, so eat a banana.
Potassium has it's benefits, but won't keep you cramp-free all the time. Your muscles are most likely cramping because they are tired and overloaded. Keep hydrated and ensure you warm-up and cool-down properly.
Muscle cramps are caused by dehydration
Another myth when it comes to cramping is that if you aren't drinking enough while running you are going to start cramping. Cramping is caused by unaccustomed exertion and normally occurs in runners who are more susceptible.
You need the latest gear before you hit the trail
Do you have a pair of running shoes, some shorts and a t-shirt? Well then you are good to go. When you first start out this is all you will need. Once you start getting more serious about the trail then it will be worth investing in some trail specific shoes, but until that stage don't let the lack of the latest gear hold you back.
You'll catch your death if you run around in the rain
We all heard it growing up from our parents. If we went and played in the rain we were going to get a cold or the flu and so it has stayed with us into adulthood and we avoid going out for a run when it is raining. While the cold can weaken your immune system and it's likely to be very slippery out there, you will have to come in contact with a virus to actually get sick.
Kilometres run on the road is equal to kilometres on the trail
You are going to be running over a very uneven surface filled with rocks, mud, roots etc. The trail is very different to the smooth tar surface. So don't expect your kilometres covered on a trail will be at the same pace that you are used to on a road.
It's necessary to carbo-load before a race
If you are going to be running a race shorter than 90 minutes, carbo-loading is going to have no effect on your performance. However it's going to do no harm so if it makes you feel more confident then carry on.
Say good-bye to your joints once you start running
It's not the act of running that is going to put strain on those knees and ankles, but rather poor running form that is the culprit. Make sure your running form is correct to avoid getting injuries.