Fitness Friday

Busted: The Top Five Myths About Houston’s Running Scene

Separate running fact from fiction before you hit the trails.

By Andrea Park March 18, 2016

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Runners at Buffalo Bayou Park.

Whether you're new to Houston or simply thinking about adding more running to your fitness routine, it’s normal to have some preconceived notions about what it means to be a runner in this city. We asked some seasoned local runners to help debunk the most common misconceptions and apprehensions. So read on, then lace up your running shoes with confidence!

Myth #1: “I won’t fit in. Runners all have a certain body type which involves little to no body fat.”

Reality: The running community in Houston is just as diverse as the city itself. Although a very small group of elite athletes may fit this body type, the majority of runners are average, everyday people. Fitness isn’t always a reflection of the way someone’s body looks, so there’s no reason your “average” runner can’t enjoy just as much success as their smaller counterparts.

Submitted by: Deborah Touchy, 17-year runner, 58-year Houston resident

Myth #2: “The local running clubs are too intimidating for beginners.”

Reality: Houston has more than 25 active running clubs to choose from, with representation from nearly every skill level and age group. Running in a group builds camaraderie, provides encouragement, and creates platforms for questions and advice. Additionally, you’ll discover new routes and explore different neighborhoods on foot. So how do you find a group that’s right for you? Start with the Houston Area Road Runner’s Association’s listing of clubs.

Submitted by: Christian Blair Thompson, 5-year runner, 8-year Houston resident, and first-time marathoner with help from Runner’s High Club’s training program

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Image: Shutterstock

Myth #3: “Houston runners train at sea level, making it impossible to perform in races at altitude or with lots of elevation gain.”

Reality: Training in heat and humidity has the unique ability to make us feel oxygen-deprived, and in turn pushes our bodies to work more efficiently in tough conditions. Interestingly enough, this translates into strength and resilience in any race—including those at altitude. Last August, 17 Houston runners successfully completed the Pikes Peak Marathon and Ascent in Manitou Springs, Colo., which topped out at 14,114 feet.

Submitted by: Heather Foley, 8-year runner, 10-year Houston resident, and 2015 Pikes Peak Marathon finisher.

Myth #4: “The Memorial Park loop is the only safe place to run.”

Reality: Memorial Park is one of the most popular and beloved places to run, but circle the three mile trail enough times and you might start to feel like a hamster stuck on a wheel. Luckily there are plenty of other pedestrian-friendly places to mix up your scenery, such as the beautifully renovated Buffalo Bayou Park, the White Oak Bayou Hike and Bike Trail, Hermann Park and Rice University, or the massive Terry Hershey Park in the Energy Corridor. Apps such as Map My Run can use your location to find popular nearby routes that other users have created.

Submitted by: Catherine Santamaria, 20+ year runner, lifelong Houston resident

Myth #5: “Houston doesn’t have good weather for running.”

Reality: Houston’s proximity to the Gulf Coast means that the weather is generally pretty temperate and conducive to year-round outdoor running. True, summer can be hot and muggy, but early birds will find the morning weather to be pleasantly cool and calm. Many runners have found that keeping their endurance up during the hot months is rewarded with faster race times when fall and winter rolls around.

Submitted by: Trisha Harvey, 10- year runner, 10-year Houston resident

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