How to Start Running Long Distance

If you’re like us, you get jealous when people share pictures of a long distance runs on their smart watches. No matter what you do, you just can’t seem to run more than a few miles. A marathon (or even a half-marathon) seems like a distant dream. If running long distance doesn’t come naturally to you, the good news is that it is something that can be learned! After reading these few tips and tricks along with a positive mindset, you’ll start running long distance easily with this how-to guide.

Running long distance has some incredible benefits whether you’re already running short distances or looking to switch up your normal workouts. That running high you always hear about? It’s so real a Swedish institute did research on it. Those who run daily for at least 30 minutes are more likely to live longer. If you’re looking for more reasons to run longer and farther, check out these 6 Science-Backed Ways Running Improves Your Health.

Focus on Fuel

When you’re running long distance your body needs proper fuel, AKA nutrition and hydration. If you don’t fuel your body properly before a long distance run, it will be like a car running on empty. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy and are essential for fueling a long run. The amount of carbohydrates you need to consume will depend on the length of your run. For those who running 60 minutes or longer, it is important to fuel your body similar to the way an athlete fuels theirs.

Hydration is also key for long distance running. The longer you exercise, the more you’re at risk for dehydration. You need to hydrate prior to running, during, and afterwards. If you are hydrating during your run, take a water bottle with you! Or keep an eye out for water fountains on your route.

Have a Positive Mindset

Mindset is everything, in your day-to-day life and when it comes to running. If you tell yourself you can’t run long distance, your body will listen. The quote “if you’re not a confident person, pretend to be one,” by Caitlin Moran, applies perfectly to those with a goal to run longer. Pretend you’re already a long distance runner, your body will start to believe it. Soon enough you’ll be running long distance and realize you don’t have to pretend anymore.

What works for you mentally, will be different than others. If 10 miles seems daunting to you, try breaking it down into five 2 mile runs and take a walk in between. Ten miles is still 10 miles even with breaks! If you need some motivation during your run, try listening to motivational speeches on YouTube. Or try running with a friend, it will get your mind off of the distance while also keeping you company. They can also push you to try harder when you need it.

Pace Yourself

If you’re already able to keep a pace of 10 minutes per mile for 2-3 miles, don’t expect to keep the same pace for 4-6 miles at first. If you’re tired at the end of 2-3 miles for your current pace, don’t push yourself to do more when you’re not ready. Try slowing your pace down to preserve energy and you’ll be surprised at how much farther you can go. Once you’re able to successfully reach your mileage goal, try picking up the pace!

If you’re a sprinter, slowing your pace down can be difficult at first. Your natural instinct is to go and go fast. Entertain yourself with distractions that will keep your mind off of going faster. Put on one of your favorite podcasts or curate a special playlist of your favorite songs. If you’re not a fan of running with headphones try changing up your routes so you’re busy observing new scenery. The easiest way to slow your pace down is to track it with a smart watch or smart phone. All you’ll need to do is glance down at your phone or watch and it tells you your pace! If you’re more into old school methods, run on a path that has mile markers with a stopwatch to monitor how fast you’re going.

Start Using a Running App

Technology might just be your BFF when training for long distances. There are several running apps that exist that serve different purposes. Your smart devices probably have a built in running app that cover your basics being time, mileage, pace, and a map. If you’re looking for something more, check out your app store.

For the sprinters who need something more than just one pace, try an app that breaks a longer run into intervals. If you want a thoroughly detailed training schedule, try out an app that plans out all of your runs for you. There are even apps that match your current running speed with a song that’s rhythm matches your run. Or if you thrive off a community with a similar mindset, try out an app like Strava! We recommend doing some research on the different apps that are out there for your smart tech. Then have some fun testing them out!

Don’t Forget Post-Run Care

It can be easy to get home, kick off your running shoes and just jump in the shower. But remember, you’re pushing yourself more than your normal exercise – which your body is not used to yet. Cool down for a few more blocks than you normally do. Do a deep stretch right after your run to loosen those muscles. Catch your breath and reflect on the amazing run you’ve just completed!

You’ll probably be sore and your body will require more post-workout nourishment. Don’t be afraid to eat some extra carbs since you’ve just depleted your body of energy. Invest in a quality foam roller to massage those sore leg muscles. Lastly, hydration is vital after a long run.

With these easy 5 how-to tips you’ll be able to start running long distance in no time! When you set your mind to being successful, you can achieve your goals. As you start to get the hang of running longer distances, try signing up for a 10k or a half marathon, the races might push you to run your quickest time yet.

Easy Nutrition for High School and College Athletes

As summer comes close, every athlete knows that tryout season is near. After an enjoyable break, reality hits that you need to get back into peak physical fitness for your sport. As you start to prep your workouts and get yourself mentally prepared for the season, don’t forget about nutrition! As an athlete you feel like you can get away with eating whatever and however much you like because you burn it all off. But diet and nutrition has a much bigger impact on your performance on the field and off than you think. The good news is that nutrition for high school and college athletes is easier than you think.

With almost daily practices and games, you’re burning a lot of calories. You need to fuel your body to last all game long while giving it the nutrition it needs to build muscle. Male and female athletes can consume upwards of 3,000 calories per day to fulfill their caloric needs, especially if they’re still growing. It can be challenging to know how to spend all of those calories to get the quality fuel you need. Sometimes you’re running late for classes and need a protein packed on-the-go breakfast. Other times you come home from practice and don’t have the energy to put together a meal to replenish your carbohydrates.

Carbs are your BFF

Keto and low-carb diets have no place in the athletic world where carbs are king. You need carbs to give you the energy to achieve peak endurance and speed. Carbohydrates serve as the primary source of energy for all of your practices, games, and workouts. Your body changes carbs into glucose (AKA sugar) and stores it in your muscles to use for energy later on. An athlete’s diet should be 50-70% carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Whole grains are grains that are unrefined and therefore still have all of their nutrients. Choosing whole grain breads and pastas over refined grains will give you the boost in energy you need while boosting your protein intake for the day. One great way to get some whole grain carbohydrates into your day is by starting your mornings with an easy steel-cut oatmeal parfait with fruit.

Your vegetable intake should consist of a combination of starchy and non-starchy veggies. Starchy vegetables include potatoes, corn, peas, and beans. Non-starchy vegetables include broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, and zucchini. You should aim for a total intake of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables for the day. The good news is that carbo-loading on pastas and veggies is easy and probably your favorite when it comes to nutrition for high school and college athletes.

Hydration, hydration, hydration

The beginning of the fall season can still be extremely hot in most parts of the country. When your body is not properly hydrated you risk poor performance, an injury, and in worse cases, your life. Hydration should be an all-day focus, not just while you’re at practice or during a game. Generally, athletes should divide their weight in half and drink that amount ounces of water every day.

You should begin practice or a game well-hydrated and continue to maintain hydration during exercise. All of that sweat that accumulates during playing can lead to 2-3% decrease in body weight from water. The general rule of thumb to follow is that if you’re thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

For peak hydration and performance according to the NCAA, drink one 16 oz water bottle 2-3 hours before your exercise and one 8 oz glass of water 15 minutes before. During your practice or game you should be drinking 2-3 large gulps of water every 15-20 minutes. Sports drinks are a great hydration option as they replenish carbohydrates and electrolytes for athletes exercising for more than 60 minutes. Beware of added sugars though!

Powerful Proteins

High-quality proteins are a must when it comes to maintaining and building muscle for athletes. These include lean meats such as chicken, fish, turkey, eggs, cheese, yogurt, tofu, and edamame. An athlete requires upwards of 1.7 g of protein per kilogram of body weight. To get in your daily amount of protein, try to get protein in with every meal.

Getting protein in with every meal can be difficult if you’re busy between classes, studying, homework, practices, and games. Especially when it comes to a protein packed breakfast. Whether you need something quick before you catch the bus or only have access to a microwave in the dorms, you need something that is easy and packs the protein. Try keeping a breakfast burrito in your freezer for mornings like this.

Be cautious of consuming too much protein as it can cause damage to your kidneys and can lead to dehydration. Some protein powders and bars can be loaded with sugar and artificial additives to increase the amount of protein. The best way to increase your protein intake is a whole foods approach.

Superstar Snacking

The desire to snack all day is so real when your body is craving all those calories. We all know that your school’s vending machine doesn’t have the best options either. So instead of relying on an unhealthy snack that is probably filled with sugars and artificial flavors, try packing a snack.

Pack options like nuts, trail mix, granola bars, or dried fruits. Beware of products that are marketed towards athletes, jacked up with artificial proteins and sugars. Whole food options are best, try making your snacks at home or read the nutrition label and ingredients list if buying in-store.

Finicky Fats

Fats are a great source of energy for your body when it is running low on carbohydrates. As an athlete who’s diet is 50-70% carbs, a high fat diet is not recommended. Your regular intake of nuts, avocados, olive oil, and fatty fishes is plenty. Beware the eating fatty foods on the day of an important game or extraneous practice might make you feel sick.

Each athlete’s diet will vary depending on their sport, how often you train or play, and how long you’re exercising for. Listening to your body is just as important as maintaining your nutrition, you know your body better than anyone else does. Nutrition for high school and college athletes is not too different than someone who is lightly active, the main difference being an increased carbohydrate intake.