So, you may have just started running or like the title suggests, maybe you just started running and your in high school. Today, I want to share with you the top four things I wish I knew when I started running in high school.
If you haven’t been with me on the channel before, hit that subscribe button, stick around, I do videos every week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, where we talk about running, my experience, research, all those kind of things I’ve learned to help you be the best runner you can be. And if you’re just starting out in high school, then you may not know a whole lot, or you may think you know a lot, but trust me, the depths of what you can learn about running is very, very deep. So, it takes time and effort to learn all that you can learn.
Now, I’m gonna give you some of the things I wish I knew when I started running that could have helped me, things that maybe people even told me but if I had actually listened to, would have been more helpful. These are mistakes from my personal history, but I think they’re very common possibly to you and to your teammates. So, first, I have to have a slight caveat. I started running in eighth grade, not high school, but it makes for a better title to put high school, so there’s a caveat there.
In any case, my number one mistake, or advice thing I wish, you know that I wish I knew, if I get that right is to slow down. You don’t have to crush every single run, especially those slow long runs. They’re meant to be slow long runs. I remember coming out first day of cross country in high school and the coach didn’t know, hey what’s our fitness level, all that kind of stuff. I was very, very ambitious. I wanted to run with the older guys.
And so they started out and he was going to have us go a shorter distance, I said, “No coach, I’m going to try it as a five-mile run.” And I remember just crushing that five-mile run as hard as I could. And that was not the best thing to do.
It did in some essence, tell the coach, “Hey, I can run five miles.” But that kind of pattern behavior persisted for a long time. I still now even kind of catch myself, hey, slow down on those long runs. Because the long runs are for aerobic development. If you’re going hard on those long runs, you’re actually doing yourself a disservice by burning up extra glycogen stores, and not improving your aerobic capacity solely to improve your aerobic capacity.
When you go easy on those long runs, you can recover, number one, improve your aerobic capacity and save those glycogen stores for the hard days when you’re on the track when you’re doing intervals, when you’re doing a fartlek, any of those kinds of things. So, on your slow days go slow, that’s number one.
Number two, and number three kind of go together. So, I said four things, but I guess you could call it three things. But it’s a big thing here. A lot of high schoolers want to skip this and it is an essential part. It’s not just a slogan, but it is essential to your development and making sure you don’t overtrain and that is to eat breakfast. Eat breakfast, number two.
But number three along with that, eat your vegetables. Come on, you know, it’s not just something you should do, it’s to your benefit. It’s to your benefit. Even if they don’t taste good, try something, you know. Put a little ranch on it, not too much. Eat it. You’re gonna get the nutrients that your body needs to perform at its best.
And I would be lying to say I had an easy time with this. Even now we struggle sometimes to figure out how to get enough vegetables in our diet. And a lot of this maybe depends on your parents and what they want to cook. But if they are cooking vegetables for you, eat them. Your parents will definitely be happy, that’s for sure. But your body will be happy. And the thing is, I’ve talked to a number of registered dietitians on my other show, the Smart Athlete Podcast, which if you haven’t seen that, as mentioned, hit the subscribe button, stick around.
But the thing is that you have to give a new food or food you haven’t tried in a while seven-eight times of trying it before you can decide if you really like it. And you may think okay, Jesse, that sounds like bullshit, right? We’re kind of grown-ups here, even if you’re in high school, you use that language, I know you do.
And the thing is, you think you can make up your mind in one sitting and say, “Ugh, I don’t like that. Ugh, it’s gross.” But the thing is, the thing I noticed in particular about vegetables, if you try them, especially if you’re training your body, we’ll kind of put them to use and then when you try it again the next time, the flavor’s a little different.
Maybe it’s a little more palatable now, maybe you like it a little bit more because your body actually put that thing to use, and now it tastes it and goes, “Oh, yeah, there’s the thing that I needed that did the good stuff. Now I can use it. So, I like it now.”
And sometimes it takes a few times of doing that. That’s why when I talk to people, when I talked to these registered dieticians and I asked them, you know, how do we get to a place where we eat better food, sometimes it’s a matter of okay, if you really don’t like it, there’s like broccoli, it makes me gag, I simply can’t get over that, But I eat so many vegetables now because I’ve tried consecutive times, I tried them different ways, they cook different ways. And that’s a big key too and you can’t control that if you’re still in your parent’s house, maybe they’ll allow you to cook.
But there’s some times, unfortunately, our parents just aren’t the best at preparing certain vegetables. But try to eat those and eat breakfast, back to point two. Don’t just get up, roll out of bed and go to school. Don’t just get up, roll out of bed and go to work. You need to eat breakfast because you need enough calories in your system for the entire day.
And we know that if you try to slot all those calories on to the end of the day, you’re more likely to gain undesirable weight versus desirable weight. And you won’t have the fuel that you need to do your workout. Whether that workout’s in the morning or the afternoon or the evening, you’ll have not had that fuel digested and available for you. So, number two and three, eat breakfast, eat your vegetables. I know I sound like an infomercial right now, but it is very true. That’s why it is suggested.
So, that brings me to point four. And this is very difficult when you’re young. Not because you’re young in the sense that you have no idea about things but because as you age, you have a different perspective on the world. And to illustrate this, say you’re in high school, if you’re watching this, and can you think about a time, say even three years ago, if you’re a freshman, three years ago, you’re in sixth grade.
Do you view things the same way? Do you view people, your friends all these relationships the same way? Probably not. You probably view them a little bit differently. And that thing continues to change throughout the entirety of our lives.
So, this one, you may have to take on faith from me. But know that I’ve been there. I’ve been through it. Ran from high school through college and then went on to competing in triathlon for a number of years. And now I’m back to solely running. But that is play the long game, number four, play the long game. In your case, that means if you’re a freshmen, don’t think about, “Oh, it’s just this weekend, it’s just this one meet, and then the one next meet.”
It is good to focus on the present and be present when you are working out. And in some ways, all you need to focus on is doing the right thing today. But that can also be crushing if you don’t do well, if you have a bad performance. It happens, it happens to all of us, it happens to the best of us. It doesn’t matter who you are, nobody is immune from having a bad performance.
The thing is, you got four years to develop just in high school. That’s assuming you don’t go on to college, you don’t go on to run just on your own afterwards. Even if you’re not on scholarship, you’ve got four years to develop. And the best running years are really even after high school, you’re going to develop so much in that time. That it’s kind of hard to fathom.
But if you are patient, which is the name of the game in endurance running, being patient. If you’re patient, you put in the work, and you look at those four years as a whole, instead of each race as a single microcosm where you have to be the best ever, then you will get the most out of yourself. It’s going to be difficult, it’s going to be very difficult, because your peers are going to be focused on, “Oh, what did I do today,” and be down and be depressed if they didn’t do well or be elated if they did really well.
And sometimes you should be. But if you take a longer approach, and you think about it, in terms of those whole four years, all of those seasons, all eight seasons, if you run cross country and track, then you’re not worried about any one bad or good performance. You look at them, if you had time to sit down with your coach, you say, “Hey, what did I do well today, coach?
Were you taking my splits? Can we talk about this? And then how did you feel? Did you go out too hard? Did you go out too slow? You know, did you get stuck in a pack where you boxed in somewhere and you could have made a better turn to get out of that? Take it as feedback. Something I’ve mentioned numerous times through various interviews on the Smart Athlete Podcast, also available on this channel, hit that subscribe button, is that failure is feedback, not a state of being.
So, when you have a bad day, it’s simply feedback that things didn’t go to your liking. Maybe you needed to fuel a little bit differently. As we talked about eat breakfast, eat your vegetables, maybe you needed to fuel a bit differently. Maybe you need to approach the race a little bit differently. Maybe you’re not supposed to be your fastest quite yet. We’re not to the taper yet when you’re going to be your fastest. If you’re hitting your fastest times all season, that’s actually an indication that something may be wrong and you may need to back off.
That’s something only learned with experience and the right coach. It’s something I talked about with Scott Johnston on the Smart Athlete Podcast, author of the Uphill Athlete. He’s coached numerous Olympians, gold medal-winning Olympians, so take his word for it. But all together, keep that long perspective. Know that any one single race will not define who you are good or bad. And is not the last chance for you to improve.
So, those are the four things I wish I knew when I started running in high school. If you’re watching this thinking back on the past, or maybe later, you remember to come back to this video. Leave them down in the comments below. Let me know what you wish you knew when you started? What are some mistakes you’ve run into, you want to share with the community so that they know hey, this has been my experience and maybe they too can learn from your mistakes, just like I hope you’ve learned from my mistakes. So, I will see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.