The 10 greatest running myths

A little while ago, Competitor magazine ran an article entitled 'The 10 Biggest Myths About Running'


The full article can be read here, but I thought I might put my own spin on this from the science perspective.

1. You Need To Have A Certain Body Type

It is true that runners are very variable in terms of body type, and, as with nearly all things, there is a dichotomy in body type between elite runner and non elite. Perhaps the best study to look at body type and running performance comes from Bale et al


"Sixty male distance athletes were divided into three equal groups according to their personal best time for the 10km run. The runners were measured anthropometrically and each runner completed a detailed questionnaire on his athletic status, training programme and performance.

The runners in this study had similar anthropometric and training profiles to other distance runners of a similar standard. The most able runners were shorter and lighter than those in the other two groups and significantly smaller skinfold values (P < 0.05). There were no significant differences between the groups for either bone widths or circumferences but the elite and good runners had significantly higher ponderal indices (P < 0.05) than the average runners, indicating that they are more linear.

Elite and good runners were also less endomorphic but more ectomorphic than the average runners.

The elite runners trained more often, ran more miles per week and had been running longer (P < 0.05) than good or average runners.

A multiple regression and discriminant function analysis indicated that linearity, total skinfold, the type and frequency of training and the number of years running were the best predictors of running performance and success at the 10km distance."

Having established these facts, it is true that anyone can become a runner, and a good level of aerobic fitnees can be achieved without neccessarily having very low skinfolds. The best study looking at O2 uptake (i.e. "fitness") in relation to body type, comes from Bergh and co workers, who concluded "the present data  indicate that submaximal oxygen uptake during running does not increase proportionately to body mass.

Read on... for myths 2-10!

Simon Bartold
Director of Bartold Clinical