Marathon Training Myths Busted By Sports Medicine Experts

Marathon Training Myths Busted By Sports Medicine Experts

Sports Medicine experts were asked about which Marathon running tips are myths and which are backed up by scientific evidence. Here are the results:

Carb loading is absolutely essential to running fast. This is a myth. Robert Truax, an osteopath and sports medicine specialist at the University Hospital Cleveland Medical Center, said experts now advise simply eating enough before a race. He said, “What you’re eating the night before and the diet you eat is critical if you’re trying to win the Olympics. But if you’re trying to complete the marathon … your training is the most important.”

A long stretch will keep you injury free. This is another myth. Dr. Dennis Cardone, the chief of primary care sports medicine at the department of Orthopedic Surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center, said studies have shown a good stretch doesn’t translate into a better or safe run. “They should just do some type of warm-up,” he said of marathon runners. “It’s not so much about the stretching.” John Honerkamp, a coach for the New York Road Runners, said he sometimes stretches to get the circulation going, but he warned, “If you go out on long [training runs] and don’t stretch, don’t do that that on race day.”

Eat a bunch of unfamiliar sports bars/goo/gummies during the race. Once again, myth. While experts advise having some kind of calorie replacement every hour during a long run, they advise against eating a bunch of unfamiliar food, including products such as goo, gummies or bars. It’s wise to go easy on sports goo, designed to be easily eaten during long runs, Cardone said. “The general recommendation is just one during the marathon. It’s big carbo load and can affect your stomach,” he said. He pointed out that the top rule for marathon runners is to avoid doing anything different on race day from how they train. This means avoiding any free sports treats from the marathon expo unless they were already incorporated into your training.

Drink at every water station.  Myth. Cardone advises runners to wait until they feel thirsty before taking a drink. “One of the biggest problems is hyponatremia … a decrease in sodium in body,” he said. Slower runners can end up drinking too much water, which can decrease the sodium concentration in the body — a potentially dangerous condition if the level drops too low. “We’ve gone full circle to ‘Don’t overhydrate.’ That’s more dangerous than being underhydrated,” says Cardone.

Compression clothing will help you run faster. Absolute myth. There is no item of clothing that is going to allow you to magically run faster, experts noted. The important thing is to feel comfortable and at your best in whatever clothing you choose to wear. Experts add that if you haven’t been training in compression clothing, race day is not the time to start.

Beer can help relieve aches and pains. This is a fact. Beer (in moderation) can act as a muscle relaxer to help diminish the pain of a long run. Truax said, “Depending on what beer you’re getting, there’s a carbohydrate load, and the oldest muscle relaxer in the world … is alcohol.”

There’s plenty of tips you will hear from all sorts of marathon runners. Don’t take them all as facts until you try them out and have evidence. Remember to never implement something new on race day. Stay consistent with the way you trained.


Mohney, Gillian. “Sports Medicine Experts Bust Marathon Training Myths.” AbcNews.go. N.p., 02 Nov. 2016. Web. 04 Nov. 2016.