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8 Common Myths About Running, Busted

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June 7 is Global Running Day, and 819,295 people (and counting) from 170 countries around the world will take part. Need a reason to join? How about this: It could be good for your knees. Yes, you read that right—turns out the conventional wisdom about the effect running has on your joints, and many other common beliefs about the sport, are not actually rooted in reality. Read on to learn how recent research has debunked some common misconceptions about your running routine.

MYTH 1. IF YOU RUN LONG DISTANCES, YOU'RE GOING TO LOSE TOENAILS.

Yes, cracking or losing an entire toenail is common when you’re racking up the miles, but it’s not inevitable. People whose second toe is longer than their big toe are more prone to losing nails. Also, “If shoes are too tight, you’re more inclined to lose toenails and get blisters,” says Caitlin Drap, head triathlon coach at Chelsea Piers in Connecticut. Her rule of thumb: “Always have your running shoes be a half size larger than your regular shoes.” (Of course, running in sneaks that are too big can lead to uncomfortable rubbing too, so get a proper fit at a specialty running shop to make sure you buy the right size.) Keeping your toenails trimmed can help as well, says Daniel Viera, a USAT level II triathlon coach at Full Throttle Racing at Chelsea Piers in New York City.

MYTH 2: RUNNING RUINS YOUR KNEES.

It’s a common belief that pounding the pavement is hard on your joints—the knees in particular. But new research shows the opposite might be true: Running might actually make you less likely to have knee problems down the road, according to a recent study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology. Researchers studied recreational runners and found that their knees had less inflammation (a precursor to arthritis) after completing 30 minutes of jogging than after sitting still for 30 minutes.

MYTH 3: IN ORDER TO BE A BETTER RUNNER, YOU NEED TO RUN LONGER DISTANCES.

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It’s easy to look at the sleek physiques of cross country runners or the schedules of people on marathon training forums and conclude that you have to log major weekly miles if you want to be a “real” runner. But more miles do not necessarily make you better. When it comes to training, “quality is more relevant than quantity,” says Viera. Running fewer days a week but adding in a speed workout, rather than sticking to all low-intensity jogs, can help you burn more calories and improve your pace.

MYTH 4: YOU'LL BURN THE SAME NUMBER OF CALORIES WALKING A MILE THAT YOU WOULD RUNNING A MILE.

When you’re trying to rack up 10,000-plus steps a day, every step is a step in the right direction. But contrary to popular opinion, going for a slow stroll does not burn as many calories as you’d blast on a run of the same distance. Part of the reason is that intensity matters: A higher intensity jog leads to a greater afterburn post-workout than you’d experience following a walk. In fact, this afterburn can lead to a 25 percent greater caloric expenditure during and after a run than a walk of the same distance, according to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. To ramp up the burn even more, throw some short sprints into your regularly paced run.

MYTH 5: RUNNERS CAN EAT WHATEVER THEY WANT.

Ever hear a friend or coworker complain that they gained weight while training for a marathon? It’s common, for a few reasons—including the fact that runners often overestimate how many calories they burn while pounding the pavement. You’ll fry about 90 to 100 calories per mile you run, says Drap. So you’re only entitled to about one extra snack after a 3- or 4-mile outing before the extra calories will start showing up on your waistline.

MYTH 6: RUNNING IS HARD ON YOUR HEART.

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Every now and then, there’s a news story about a runner who collapsed from a heart attack mid-race or at the finish line, despite being in seemingly great shape. The headlines are scary, but those occurrences are extremely rare. One study surveyed marathoners from 2000 to 2009 and found that of the more than 3.7 million participants, only 28 men and women died during or within a 24-hour period after their race (most, but not all, from heart-related issues). That’s less than one person per 100,000 racers. Other recent research found that running can strengthen your ticker, but you can’t outrun hereditary conditions or unhealthy habits like smoking.

MYTH 7: IF YOU'RE TRAINING FOR A MARATHON, YOU HAVE TO DO A 20-MILE-LONG JOG.

Many marathoners, especially newbies adhering closely to a set schedule, think ticking off a 20-miler—no more, no less—a few weeks before race day is crucial to crossing the finish line successfully. But just because that number is common on marathon training plans doesn’t mean it’s set in stone. Instead of feeling like you have to hit 18 or 20 miles exactly, Viera and Drap advise running for time—say, going out for three hours. “It's not only about the distance but about the time on your legs and learning to run efficiently on fatigued legs,” says Viera.

MYTH 8: YOU HAVE TO EAT PASTA THE NIGHT BEFORE AN ENDURANCE RACE.

This belief stems from the idea that carbs increase your muscles’ stores of glycogen, their go-to source of energy during an extended run. Yes, a plate of pasta is a perfectly good meal to have the night before a long race or run, but it’s far from the only thing you can eat (and gorging yourself on noodles the night before could actually lead to stomach issues mid-run, says Drap). She sticks to rice and potatoes and advises getting your biggest intake of carbs a full 24 hours ahead of the race. Also important to keep in mind: It’s not all about the day before. Most coaches suggest you slowly add extra carbs to your diet starting a few days before you’ll toe that start line.

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8 Tricks to Help Your Cat and Dog to Get Along
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When people aren’t debating whether cats or dogs are more intelligent, they’re equating them as mortal foes. That’s a stereotype that both cat expert Jackson Galaxy, host of the Animal Planet show My Cat From Hell, and certified dog trainer Zoe Sandor want to break.

Typically, cats are aloof and easily startled, while dogs are gregarious and territorial. This doesn't mean, however, that they can't share the same space—they're just going to need your help. “If cats and dogs are brought up together in a positive, loving, encouraging environment, they’re going to be friends,” Galaxy tells Mental Floss. “Or at the very least, they’ll tolerate each other.”

The duo has teamed up to host a new Animal Planet series, Cat vs. Dog, which airs on Saturdays at 10 p.m. The show chronicles their efforts to help pet owners establish long-lasting peace—if not perfect harmony—among cats and dogs. (Yes, it’s possible.) Gleaned from both TV and off-camera experiences, here are eight tips Galaxy and Sandor say will help improve household relations between Fido and Fluffy.

1. TAKE PERSONALITY—NOT BREED—INTO ACCOUNT.

Contrary to popular belief, certain breeds of cats and dogs don't typically get along better than others. According to Galaxy and Sandor, it’s more important to take their personalities and energy levels into account. If a dog is aggressive and territorial, it won’t be a good fit in a household with a skittish cat. In contrast, an aging dog would hate sharing his space with a rambunctious kitten.

If two animals don’t end up being a personality match, have a backup plan, or consider setting up a household arrangement that keeps them separated for the long term. And if you’re adopting a pet, do your homework and ask its previous owners or shelter if it’s lived with other animals before, or gets along with them.

2. TRAIN YOUR DOG.

To set your dog up for success with cats, teach it to control its impulses, Sandor says. Does it leap across the kitchen when someone drops a cookie, or go on high alert when it sees a squeaky toy? If so, it probably won’t be great with cats right off the bat, since it will likely jump up whenever it spots a feline.

Hold off Fido's face time with Fluffy until the former is trained to stay put. And even then, keep a leash handy during the first several cat-dog meetings.

3. GIVE A CAT ITS OWN TERRITORY BEFORE IT MEETS A DOG.

Cats need a protected space—a “base camp” of sorts—that’s just theirs, Galaxy says. Make this refuge off-limits to the dog, but create safe spaces around the house, too. This way, the cat can confidently navigate shared territory without trouble from its canine sibling.

Since cats are natural climbers, Galaxy recommends taking advantage of your home’s vertical space. Buy tall cat trees, install shelves, or place a cat bed atop a bookcase. This allows your cat to observe the dog from a safe distance, or cross a room without touching the floor.

And while you’re at it, keep dogs away from the litter box. Cats should feel safe while doing their business, plus dogs sometimes (ew) like to snack on cat feces, a bad habit that can cause your pooch to contract intestinal parasites. These worms can cause a slew of health problems, including vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and anemia.

Baby gates work in a pinch, but since some dogs are escape artists, prepare for worst-case scenarios by keeping the litter box uncovered and in an open space. That way, the cat won’t be cornered and trapped mid-squat.

4. EXERCISE YOUR DOG'S BODY AND MIND.

“People exercise their dogs probably 20 percent of what they should really be doing,” Sandor says. “It’s really important that their energy is released somewhere else so that they have the ability to slow down their brains and really control themselves when they’re around kitties.”

Dogs also need lots of stimulation. Receiving it in a controlled manner makes them less likely to satisfy it by, say, chasing a cat. For this, Sandor recommends toys, herding-type activities, lure coursing, and high-intensity trick training.

“Instead of just taking a walk, stop and do a sit five times on every block,” she says. “And do direction changes three times on every block, or speed changes two times. It’s about unleashing their herding instincts and prey drive in an appropriate way.”

If you don’t have time for any of these activities, Zoe recommends hiring a dog walker, or enrolling in doggy daycare.

5. LET CATS AND DOGS FOLLOW THEIR NOSES.

In Galaxy's new book, Total Cat Mojo, he says it’s a smart idea to let cats and dogs sniff each other’s bedding and toys before a face-to-face introduction. This way, they can satisfy their curiosity and avoid potential turf battles.

6. PLAN THE FIRST CAT/DOG MEETING CAREFULLY.

Just like humans, cats and dogs have just one good chance to make a great first impression. Luckily, they both love food, which might ultimately help them love each other.

Schedule the first cat-dog meeting during mealtime, but keep the dog on a leash and both animals on opposite sides of a closed door. They won’t see each other, but they will smell each other while chowing down on their respective foods. They’ll begin to associate this smell with food, thus “making it a good thing,” Galaxy says.

Do this every mealtime for several weeks, before slowly introducing visual simulation. Continue feeding the cat and dog separately, but on either side of a dog gate or screen, before finally removing it all together. By this point, “they’re eating side-by-side, pretty much ignoring each other,” Galaxy says. For safety’s sake, continue keeping the dog on a leash until you’re confident it’s safe to take it off (and even then, exercise caution).

7. KEEP THEIR FOOD AND TOYS SEPARATE.

After you've successfully ingratiated the cat and dog using feeding exercises, keep their food bowls separate. “A cat will walk up to the dog bowl—either while the dog’s eating, or in the vicinity—and try to eat out of it,” Galaxy says. “The dog just goes to town on them. You can’t assume that your dog isn’t food-protective or resource-protective.”

To prevent these disastrous mealtime encounters, schedule regular mealtimes for your pets (no free feeding!) and place the bowls in separate areas of the house, or the cat’s dish up on a table or another high spot.

Also, keep a close eye on the cat’s toys—competition over toys can also prompt fighting. “Dogs tend to get really into catnip,” Galaxy says. “My dog loves catnip a whole lot more than my cats do.”

8. CONSIDER RAISING A DOG AND CAT TOGETHER (IF YOU CAN).

Socializing these animals at a young age can be easier than introducing them as adults—pups are easily trainable “sponges” that soak up new information and situations, Sandor says. Plus, dogs are less confident and smaller at this stage in life, allowing the cat to “assume its rightful position at the top of the hierarchy,” she adds.

Remain watchful, though, to ensure everything goes smoothly—especially when the dog hits its rambunctious “teenage” stage before becoming a full-grown dog.

Cat vs. Dog Airs on Saturdays at 10 p.m. on Animal Planet

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Getting Calls From Your Own Phone Number? Don't Answer!
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There’s a new phone scam that could affect you, according to Washington’s KIRO 7 News. In addition to keeping your eyes open for calls that come from area codes like 473 or involve people claiming to be Equifax representatives, you now have to watch out for your own phone number.

Scammers are manipulating your phone’s caller ID to make it look like you’re getting a call from your own phone number, then posing as someone from a wireless carrier like AT&T or Verizon. They tell whoever answers the phone that their account has been flagged for security reasons, then ask for the last four digits of that person’s Social Security number. The FCC has been aware of these scams for at least two years, but they seem to be ramping up once again.

In general, you shouldn’t give out any part of your Social Security number over the phone on an incoming call. If you’re suspicious, you can always call your carrier back using the official customer service phone number on their website or on your bill. But it’s best not to pick up at all. If you receive a call from your own number, don’t answer or press any buttons. Instead, file a complaint with the FCC.

[h/t KIRO 7 News]

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