You’ve made the decision to join your high school track or cross country team and you’re overwhelmed by what comes next. A slew of new people to meet, daily practices and how many miles are we running today? Take your time getting adjusted to your new environment and don’t be afraid! You’ll soon be running further and faster than you ever imagined and to your surprise, you’ll probably enjoy it. Your teammates will become your friends, and come race day you’ll be more than prepared. High school running can be daunting, but here are 10 things every high school runner should know to help you navigate both the pavement and the track.
Danica Newon is a running lover and a social media maven. You can follow her running and life adventures at chicrunner.com
Buy The Right Gear
Committing to a team means committing to being prepared for practices and meets in all the proper gear. Make sure you’re setting yourself up for success by getting yourself in the right shoe for your foot. The adidas Energy Boost 2 is an awesome newly released shoe with a great fit and amazing comfort. Make sure you are fitted for the shoe that fits your foot and stride to help prevent injuries. Running clothes are a great investment and can make your workouts easier. Look for clothes that are light weight, light colored and specific for running to make sure that you don’t chafe or become uncomfortable on a run. Bringing a sweatshirt for after practice is a great idea to stay warm and so you don’t get sick.
Coaches Know Everything
You may think that you can get away with walking a workout, not showing up to practice, or not giving 100 percent, but guess what—your coaches will always find out. For some reason, they have eyes everywhere: at the mall, at the park, whenever you’re trying to sneak off to. When you’re confronted about why you weren’t at practice or didn’t run your full workout… Just tell the truth! Trust your coaches, they want you to do your best and succeed.
Work On Preventing Injuries
Instead of running through an injury and waiting until you cannot take another step because you’re in so much pain, make sure to take care of your body each and every day. Taking the proper time to stretch, hydrate, foam roll, and ice. Make sure to stretch your calves and hamstrings and these are the most injured areas for runners. Though it seems repetitive, you run a warm up and cool down for a reason, to help your body prepare for your workout and to help it recover. Stretching can seem boring, but it helps get you ready for a workout and makes sure you don’t injure yourself. Take it seriously! Discuss with your coach when you are feeling injured so they can help tailor your workout to you. When your coach tells you to ice or roll out, do it! A tight IT Band can be the cause of both hip and knee issues.
Put In The Miles
It seems simple, but it’s the easiest way to put yourself ahead of your competition or throw away weeks of training. Every one of your competitors is going to practice and putting in the same amount of work and they have the same commitments you do. Training plans are made for a reason and it’s important to stick to them. Once it’s time to toe the starting line, it’s all about the practice that you’ve put in to get there. You can’t get in a great workout and run with people who will push you if you don’t show up to practice. Consistency is so important when it comes to running and missing one or two days can hurt your fitness levels when you’re trying to get in top racing shape. Remember that you committed to both your team and coach and practice will only make you a better, more competitive runner.
Nutrition Is Important
When you run, you sweat a lot and that is why hydration is so important to runners! Keep track of how much water you’re drinking throughout the day to make sure you’re replenishing what you lost during your run. Hydration can help prepare you for your next run and flush out lactic acid that builds up in your muscles and makes you feel tired. Many runners also don’t eat enough protein in their diet. Make sure you are eating enough protein after you run to ensure that your muscles are properly repaired and recovered. Eating healthy food to help fuel your body for your next run is important so that you don’t feel tired or hit the wall.
Cutting off mileage or making a workout shorter may seem like an easy choice. You’re tired, it’s hot out. What can seem like a long daunting workout is only going to make you stronger. Taking shortcuts may make you feel good at the time, but they’ll only come back to hurt you in long run, pun intended. Come the final races of the season, those measly miles that you dismissed as not important matter more than ever. The miles you put in all season will be the miles that get you to the finish line the fastest. Even when you don’t feel your best, always give your best!
Hang With The Hard Workers
Make a choice to hang out with the right crowd on the team. Don’t hang out with the athletes with excuses and who are lazy. It’s important to find people who run your pace or push you to run faster. If you always run a slower pace, you’ll run a slower pace during the race. Keep your team accountable and branch out to people you might normally not be friends with. You’ll never know who you’ll meet and how you’ll become friends while putting in countless miles together.
Believe In Yourself
Your mind is a powerful tool and you have to believe in yourself and trust in your training. You’ve put in the work, you’re ready to go, now you have to run your race! Think of all the miles you’ve ran. Your coaches can give you all the tools during practice to do your best, your parents and friends can encourage you, but they can’t run the race for you. When you do well, celebrate the positive! Take time to enjoy your race and what you did well. When you don’t have a great race, pin point what you can work on to run better next time.
Pushing your pace to the limits hurts, but it will make you a better runner. When race day comes, push yourself as hard as you can. When you push yourself, it’s hard to know when you’re going too fast and you’re going to burn out but you can also use it as a gauge to learn about your body and how to run during races. Pushing your pace to the limit hurts. It takes a lot of guts, but as you cross the finish line, you’ll be happy you didn’t leave anything left in the tank and you won’t wonder “what if.”
Hard Work Beats Talent When Talent Fails To Work Hard
No matter how talented you are, if you don’t work hard, you’ll get beat. Most of the time, there’s someone out there working harder than you. They want it more than you, and they’re putting in the work to prove it. Olympians make it to the podium not on sheer talent, but on talent and hard work. Make each practice count and do every workout to the best of your ability. All the drills and mile repeats will pay off as you cross the finish line of your last race and you’ll be glad you put in the extra time and effort.