Running is a powerful tool for staying fit. It exercises most of the areas of the body and burns a lot of calories. It builds up muscle strength and cardiovascular endurance. Running stimulates the release of endorphins, feel good chemicals found in the human brain. But there are many question marks regarding how frequently, where and at what speed you should run in order to keep fit. This has resulted in many myths surrounding this simple activity. Myth: Running in cold weather damages lungs Often, people who are not used to running in cold weather worry about their lungs freezing in temperatures that are very low. The myth may have originated from the fact that heavy breathing during intensive exercise causes discomfort, regardless of the weather. Runners who are new to the activity may feel more uncomfortable. This is particularly true for those having pre-existing conditions like asthma. But the claim that cold weather causes lung damage is baseless. Experts emphasize the fact that your lungs are well protected. When cold air is taken in, the body automatically starts warming it, right from the nose. The heart pumps warm blood, which flows everywhere in the body including the tissues lining your nose. The mucous lining the respiratory tract also aids in warming the air. As the cold air goes further into your trachea, it is warmed continually and made completely safe for the lungs. Myth: Running causes joint problems The myth that running eventually leads to arthritis or other knee problems is a popular one, particularly among those, who do not actually participate in this activity. Any pain experienced by a runner is quickly and groundlessly attributed to the activity. It is true that runners may suffer cartilage, tendon and ligament related issues. But research suggests that contrary to popular belief, running reduces the risk of arthritis rather than increasing it. Benjamin Ebert, M.D writes that running can treat and prevent arthritis, a condition that effects many people and is more commonly seen in ageing people. Ebert is of the opinion that running makes your joints adapt to it in a certain way that stops the degeneration of your bones. Myth: Lactic acid leads to sore legs Lactic acid is demonized by many sports training professionals and body builders. According to the myth, lactic acid is produced as the body’s natural response to intense running, like running up a hill or sprinting for a minute. A rise in muscle acidity leads to a drop in the pH levels. Eventually, the muscle stops working efficiently. This ends in a lactic acid build up your legs, which makes it tight and sore. The soreness can be reduced by massaging the area, clearing out the lactic acid. The truth is that the body does not even contain lactic acid to begin with. Lactate is synthesized in the body, which is the acid’s dissociated form. Even though the hydrogen ion concentration in your muscles goes up during intense running, these ions are not a product of lactic acid. The pH levels of your muscles do not drop so low that your muscle function is affected. Myth: “The Wall” should be feared while running in marathons “The wall” is for marathon runners, what lactic acid is for short distance runners. According this myth, a 26.2 mile marathon does not really start until you are 20 miles into the race. This is when your body finishes its supply of stored glycogen and begins to rely on stored fat instead. This is inevitable, especially if you have not prepared for the marathon well enough. This can make you shuffle painfully for the last six miles and reach the finish lines way behind your goal. Poor preparation prior to a marathon can result in hitting the wall, but it is not inevitable as the legend puts it. The most effective way to avoid hitting the wall is to improve your weekly running mileage. For instance, if you hit the wall at 40 miles every week, set your goal for say 45 or even 50. According to research, this is one of the best ways to predict your performance in a marathon, even better than recording the distance of your longest run. It is advised to do a minimum of one run during your training, spending the exact time on your feet as you would in the marathon. Smart pacing is another important thing to consider. You should start slow and make your body comfortable, the last eight miles is when you should push hardest.