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BYU–Hawaii alumni and student runners share how best to prepare for a race in a healthy manner

BYU–Hawaii students and alumni who specialized in distance running shared their ideas of how to get in shape and prepare for running races, such as 5k’s or marathons, and stressed the importance of staying determined, making goals, and eating healthy.

Being determined to keep healthy lifestyle changes

“Having a healthy and fit lifestyle is so critical to having success in every other aspect of life,” said Aden Pierce, a sophomore from California majoring in biomedical science. “I believe we can enjoy this life so much more when our own lives and health are our priorities.”

Pierce said he believes the hardest part of getting into shape is “having the right mindset and determination. We too often want to skip the process and just get to our end goal. And when we can’t do that, we usually quit.”

University Information Officer and cross country coach Kevin Schlag, said he believes the more motivated someone is about achieving a goal, the greater their chance is for success. “There are some people who won’t change their lifestyle no matter what, and those who don’t need much motivation to do something every day.”

Schlag offered this advice to anyone who would want to be motivated to exercise. “Answer the question. ‘Why? Why am I setting a goal?’ Doing it just to do it doesn’t work, but if you’re doing it for a specific reason, that helps–that’s the motivation. Be as specific as possible.”

When asked what advice he would give to people who want to get into running seriously, Pierce said the most important thing is to trust the process of getting into shape. “When you don’t see immediate results, be patient. Getting into your top physical shape will not be easy, but it will be worth it in the end.

“So keep grinding and give it your all, and once you get there, it’ll be the greatest feeling ever.”

Preparing for long distance or racing

BYUH alumnus Max Moncour, former gym monitor and intramural referee from California, ran his first marathon in Oct. 2018 before graduating with a business and financial management degree. Before, he typically ran 5k, 8k, and 10k races in both college and high school.

Moncur said his best advice was being signed up for a race or setting a goal distance and pace. “You want to be able to run so that you have something to train for. It’s hard to just go and run when you have nothing motivating you each day. Consistency is key. The first couple of weeks will be difficult, but one day it will get much easier and will continue to get better from there.”

A friend of Pierce, Philip Herrera, a senior from California majoring in biology, shared his history of distance running. He said, “I began running my sophomore year of high school. Typically the 800-meter dash, 5k, 8k, and 10k races. Before then, I had never considered doing running as a sport in high school, until my brother talked me into joining the track and cross-country clubs.”

Herrera explained while it may have been difficult at first to get in the shape needed to run long distances without getting tired, it was all worth it in the end. “For anyone who wants to start running seriously, I would recommend running at least 30 minutes a day at first or at least four miles. After you feel more comfortable with that, you can add in longer runs and pick up the pace. Make sure to try and do running workouts at least twice a week if you plan on racing. This helps you build up mentally and physically for a race.”

To train for a race, Herrera said he usually runs at least 6-8 miles for 3 days a week. Additionally, he puts in two heavy workouts the next two days to build endurance. Herrera added, “the sixth day, usually Saturday is a long run where I start off easy and pick up the pace the farther I get on the run.”

Pierce encouraged prospective runners that “getting into shape is a process, with ups and downs, that we all have to go through. It will be really hard, but with the right attitude and with loads of determination, it is possible.”

The importance of a nutritious diet

The runners also emphasized the importance of healthy eating. Moncur warned against carbonated drinks and sugary foods when training. “If I have a race coming up, I cut out a lot of the unnecessary sweets and eat lots of fruits and vegetable, grains, and chicken or fish.

“Pasta is especially good before a race. Everyone’s body is different though, so you need to find what works best for you. For me, I went through a phase where I always ate an açaí bowl before I ran and it worked really well for me.”

Herrera agreed with cutting out sugary foods and sodas. He said, “Don't overeat just because you are training for a race ... After a run or workout try to have a quick healthy snack in order to allow your body to start the process of recovery.”

Writer: Elijah Hadley