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Running’s most controversial debates, settled

Settling Twitter's biggest running debates

Running is a seemingly simple pursuit–one foot in front of the other, at a pace you decide. But Twitter would suggest that this simple pursuit has some intricacies and strongly held opinions about what’s wrong and what’s right.

Here we settle some of Twitter’s most controversial running debates.

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The GPS watch

For some, the GPS watch is a torture tool that sends them into a spiral of data crunching and statistics. For other, it’s these statistics that got them into running in the first place.


The compromise: on your easy days, leave the watch at home and go by feel. If the only purpose of your run is to spend some time on your feet, then do exactly that. When you’re working out, bring the watch to make sure you’re on track with your prescribed paces.

The age to start serious training

This largely depends on whether it’s the child pushing, or the parent/coach. However, recent studies have found that starting runners young doesn’t necessarily make them better. As a rule of thumb, keep kids active and avoid specialization until a later stage.

OFSAA 2019. Photo: Maxine Gravina

The European Journal of Sports Science looked at the workout programmes of elite distance runners during their first seven years of training. Researchers found no evidence that starting a structured training programme at a younger age was beneficial. In their study, the runners who start deliberate practice later in their careers achieved the stronger results.

RELATED: How young is too young for marathon training?

Becoming married to the pace

Some runners swear by hitting specific paces, while other prefer to run by feel. There’s merit to both and usually there’s a time and place for each method. If you’re doing a workout, keeping track of your pace is a good idea, but when it comes to an easy day, it’s usually fine to run by feel.

Trevor Hofbauer wins 2019 Canadian Marathon Championships. Photo: Maxine Gravina

Food for thought: Trevor Hofbauer won the Canadian Marathon Championships without a watch. He attributes some of his success to running without a constant reminder of pace.

RELATED: Why Trevor Hofbauer races without a watch

The length of your longest long run

The long run is an essential part of marathon training–but the length of the longest of those runs is a highly debated topic.

Most coaches say that the ideal distance for each runner is highly personal. For some, it can be as short as 26K, and for others, reaching the high 30s is perfect. So if you’re running over 32K on the weekend and struggling to recover enough to continue your quality training the following week, you might consider experimenting with a slightly shorter long run–consistency is the name of the marathon training game.

The 5K

Some runners consider the 5K as the race reserved for the beginner, but it’s arguably one of the hardest races to run well. If the 5K seems easy, you probably aren’t doing it right.

A 5K is a great race to run early in your marathon build to keep it fun and touch your speedy side.


Photo: Jacob Puzey

Treadmills are a shockingly polarizing tool in the running community. Some runners don’t dare step on them, while others embrace their basement rapid-speed conveyor belt as an important training tool. In Canada, the treadmill is often a good way to safely get through some of your winter miles. While most people don’t love their time on the machine, it can make training easier during the worst weather.

RELATED: 5 simple tricks to make the treadmill less terrible

Race banditing

Race banditing is running a race you’re not entered in and is generally frowned upon. There’s not much of a debate with this one–just don’t do it.

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