4 running myths get busted

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1/ It's bad for your knees

Ah, the old classic running myth. While it's easy to see why people might believe the repetitive pounding of running will damage your joints, research widely proves otherwise. A study at the University of Frankfurt followed new marathon runners as they took on a six-month training programme and found that there wasn't any clinically relevant cartilage loss in their knees. In fact, it's also been found that running can help protect the knees against osteoarthritis. Runners may experience knee pain as a result of conditions like IT band syndrome and patellofemoral pain syndrome, but those come as a result of muscular imbalances and overuse rather than knee impact per se.

2/ Only young people can run

If you're generally healthy and free from injury, there's no reason why you can't run. "You can begin running at any age and you can improve at any age through sensible, consistent and progressive training," says running coach and Runner's World section editor Sam Murphy. "Think of Charles Eugster, who holds his age group world record for 200m - he didn't begin running until he was 94! It's never too late to reap the benefits."

3/ I need to stretch before a run

Forget what your PE teacher drilled into you. "There is no need to stretch muscles before a run," says Murphy. In fact, it's been found that pre-run stretching can lead to a slower starting speed and a greater output of effort. But still, don't launch straight into your session. "Make time for an active warm-up which helps mobilise joints and raise muscle temperature to reduce the risk of injuries," Murphy advises. Save your static stretching for afterwards - it's not like you've got double maths to rush off to.

4/ I won't make any progress if I don't run every day

Steady on there! "Elite runners may train every day, but for most of us a day or two off from pounding the pavements each week provides a more sensible balance," says Murphy. "Follow the 'hard-easy' approach to training by sandwiching your hardest sessions between easy days, cross training or rest. Even if you run just once or twice a week you will still make progress - it will just happen at a slower rate." Take it from us - that odd extra lie-in or yoga class won't detract from your running goals. If anything, it'll take you a stride closer.