Long-distance 101: ten healthy tips for running newbies

6 February 2017

New to long-distance running? We all want to keep ourselves healthy, but if you're new to running it can be hard to know where to start…

In the lead-up to the 2017 Round the Bays, we asked some of our sporty staff members for a few basic tips to get us on the right path. Please note that the following tips should be read as general suggestions. For advice specific to your needs or health concerns, please see a Doctor, Naturopath or running coach.



Fuel to keep you healthy, hydrated & high in energy!


1. Hydration, Hydration, Hydration

How much water is enough?  Jo Morrison is the manager of our Wellington City Store and has trained in holistic nutrition.  “I follow the rule that for every hour of exercise you should drink an additional litre of water,” she says. 

It’s one thing to drink water, but unless your body has enough electrolytes, you won’t be able to absorb it into your cells. Drinking coconut water or using add-in electrolyte drops, like Elete, are both good options to ensure adequate hydration. 


 2. Serious about running? Get professional help

If you're keen about running in the long term, it might be worth investing in professional help. Jo recommends finding a Personal Trainer or running coach. “They can help with physical imbalances, “ she says. “and work with you to strengthen muscles so that your joints aren’t taking all the impact.


 3. Fuel up to train: make an easy energy shake

Natalee Durrant is a Naturopath and Assistant Manager of our Johnsonville store. When she's feeling too tired to train she makes an easy energy shake. “When I come home exhausted I make up a shake with coconut water, cacao and a Vitamin B complex – it gets me out there and training,” she says. Cacao is an energy booster and is high in magnesium, which works as a muscle relaxant. Add Maca powder to up the energy even further.


4. Eat to run

Eating well is more than what you eat before & after a run. It’s important to build up adequate levels of nutrients across the board before you even start training. For women, iron can also be a big consideration, as it carries oxygen into blood cells. If you're worried, consider talking to a health professional and taking supplements. 

“I like to eat salmon, brown rice and greens,” Jo says. “Omega 3 is important for offloading oxygen at the cell level, and salmon is great for this." 


 5. Depleted? Don’t push yourself

“There’s a big difference,” Jo says, “Between not wanting to run because it’s hard, and not wanting to run because you’re depleted.”

But how do you tell the difference? “Well, you won’t just be exhausted after the run,” Jo says. “You will feel depleted, exhausted or fatigued all the time.”

If you think you might be depleted, perhaps step back your training until you’ve spoken to a Doctor. Our Naturopaths can advise you on supplements to take and discuss other factors, like sleep and stress, that might be sapping your overall energy levels.


 6. Eat to recover 

When you’re extending your strength and fitness, you need to make sure that you’re getting the fuel for your body to recover. “Getting enough protein is a key factor in training,” Natalee says. “You need to absorb the components you need to build your muscles back up again.”

Jo recommends eating a mix of carbs and protein in the two hours immediately after your run. If you’re short on time? Grab a Trinity Bite or a boiled egg.


 7. Don’t try new foods or drinks on race day

Amelia Earhart famously said “preparation is rightly two-thirds of any venture.” While perhaps we shouldn’t listen to Amelia too closely (I mean, she did mysteriously disappear in 1937 while trying to circumnavigate the globe), the general principle is correct. Don’t wait until the day of your race to experiment with new foods or drinks, as your digestive system may react badly.

 “Remember that everyone’s different,” Jo says. “I had a trainer who tried new gels for the first time during a race and had a severe digestive reaction. Always test new foods or drinks in advance.”


 8. Choose slow-release carbs on race day

There are two camps of runners: those who like to run with food in their stomach, and those who like to run without. Either way, both will camps need to eat a few hours before their race.

Jo recommends eating whole foods, but nothing too high in fibre. “Oats are really good,” she says. “They’re slow release. If you know you can tolerate dairy well, oats with sultanas, honey and milk is a great pre-race combination.”


 9. Consider alternatives to energy gels

If you’re running for one and a half hours or more, you will need to eat something during your run. Energy gels are a popular choice – but what are your options if you want to avoid artificial flavours and colours?

Natalee recommends making your own natural gels with chia seeds, natural salt and apple juice or coconut water. Jo goes for a more hunter-gatherer approach: for her first half-marathon, she ran with a tiny bag of mandarin segments at her side.

If you’re a runner who likes to drink water during a race, “little and often” is the key, says Jo. “Don’t skull back a whole cup!” she laughs.


 10. Prioritize recovery time

It’s important to give your body time to re-build muscles, replace stores of vital nutrients and allow minor issues to heal and recover.

“You don’t actually improve fitness while you’re doing it. You improve in recovery. Recovery is absolutely essential,” Jo says.

“Don’t just think about finishing this race. If you love running, and you want to keep on running, then you need to look after yourself.” 



Jo Morrison: trained in nutrition and Manager of our Wellington City store