Alana's Corner

Alana Hadley is a high school senior from Charlotte, NC and a professional runner, with dreams of becoming an Olympic Marathoner. At age 16 she qualified for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials with a time of 2:41.55. Below are her PRs:

Marathon: 2:41.55
Half Marathon: 1:16.41
10k: 34:59
5k: 16:51

Starting January, Hadley will become a regular contributor to Stride by Stride by posting details on her workouts, health tips and more. In the meantime, below is a post from her personal blog, and click here to watch our skype interview and here to view her Flotrack video diary. 


My Helpful Tips for Young Runners

I have decided instead to write an informative post today that I feel may be very helpful for many
young runners to read. These are some of the things that I have learned through my experiences 
as a relatively high level distance runner who is running higher mileage. (Full blog post geared
specifically towards female runners can be found here).

When you are a runner, or athlete for that matter, making sure you eat right is very important, 
something I think is equally important is eating enough.  When running high mileage you burn a
lot of calories every day and in order to replace your energy and nutrients you need to make sure
you are in taking roughly the same amount that you burn.  Many people have become really 
concerned with the amounts and types of food they are eating and end up going overboard by 
either eating too little or leaving out important food groups.

More and more it is becoming the trend or ‘thing to do’ to use different diets for ‘healthier’ eating, 
such as vegetarian diet, or vegan diet, or even gluten free diet (without being allergic to gluten), I
have even seen diets that cut out almost all the salt they can.  While I understand that everyone is 
trying to find a healthy diet for themselves it is at times unnecessary to try all those diets just 
because that’s what everyone else is doing, you should choose those diets if that is what works 
best for you.  There is nothing wrong with being vegan, vegetarian, or gluten free at all, as I have 
friends and know good runners who are vegans and some who are gluten free, however it is very
important that you make sure you are getting in the appropriate nutrients that your body needs 
while doing so.  Whatever nutrition plan you follow, make sure you are getting in everything your
 body needs for your higher level for training.   Your loyalty should be to your body first, not a 
certain diet! 

When you are an athlete who trains a lot you actually need all the different types of food groups.  
You need the fruits, the veggies, the proteins, the grain, the oils, the salts, and even the fats. 
Sometimes by doing certain diets you could actually end up hurting yourself by not giving the 
body enough of want it needs without realizing it.  Many runners, especially vegans and 
vegetarians, struggle to get enough protein or iron in their diet, and if you try to lower your salt 
consumption too much it could hurt you severely as when you are sweating you lose a lot of the 
salts in your body and it is very important to replace all lost electrolytes.  These are just a few 
things of some of the issues you need to be aware of as you look at your nutrition in terms of your 
training and general fitness. 

For me personally I don’t follow a strict diet.  What I try to do is just make sure I am eating a good 
amount of food from every food group.  I try to listen to what my body is craving, because 
cravings take place for a food are actually your body’s way of telling you what it needs.  If you 
look at what is in the type of food you are craving it can tell you what your body needs.  
For example if you are craving potato chips, your body may need salt; if you crave chicken, 
your body may need protein.   

I, by a large margin, eat more food than all my friends, because by running 110 miles a week I 
have to.  I feel that sometimes I am constantly eating but I know that that is just me refueling my 
body to get it prepared for the next day.  You cannot be afraid to eat more if you need to, even if it
is occasionally “junk food” because your body needs those fats as well, it’s just another way for 
your body to get energy.  However did you know that there are healthy fats you can eat as well 
that your body actually really needs to help it function properly?  Some types of foods with healthy 
fats include different nuts and seed; my personal favorites are peanuts and sunflower seeds.  
They would be great substitutes for the traditional chips or candy to have a healthier snack.  
While eating healthy is important don’t compromise what your body needs, you are an athlete in 
training, if you need to eat a lot then eat a lot, that’s what I do. ;)

Always remember that your diet and nutrition is as much a part of your training as getting in your 
mileage is.  It is very important that you are making sure you are giving your body the proper
nutrients it needs to be able to recover and refuel in order to keep up the rest of your training.

Running Mileage:
Now to a topic I know really well, how to safely run a lot of mileage.  Lately more teens seem to 
be trying to run higher amounts of mileage than they used to without giving themselves enough 
time to adjust to it.  Whether it is because they see me running my high mileage and think that 
means they would be able to as well, I do not know, however I want to take the time to explain just 
how I came to running my high mileage.  Hopefully this will help everyone, teens and adults, be 
able to safely increase their mileage in a way that will help to prevent injuries.

When increasing mileage you can’t make huge jumps in quantity, you have keep the jumps small 
and do it slowly to allow your body plenty of time to adjust to the change.  I have been running 
since I was 6 years old and am now 17 so that’s 11 years of running.  Each year I only add 
approximately 10 miles to my weekly mileage, normally 5 miles per week every 6 months.  By 
doing this my body has had plenty of time to adjust to mileage increases and thus explains why I 
can now handle running 110 miles a week without having a problem.  Your muscular-skeletal 
system out of all your body systems takes the longest amount of time to adjust to increasing 
mileage and that is why it is important to give your body enough time to fully and completely 
adjust to your new mileage every time you increase. Jumping up too quickly just causes problems.

I recommend that if you want to run higher mileage than great, I love it and think it helps, but be 
careful and get there slowly over time, that way you can get there safely and get the most out of it 
and enjoy every step along the way. :)

I have enjoyed writing this blog for you and hope that you find at least some of this information 
helpful.  I felt like this was an important blog to write and share some of the valuable knowledge I
have gained through my experiences. 

If anyone has further questions, personal or general, or would like me to elaborate on anything for 
them please don’t hesitate to either comment, message me on my Facebook athlete page, or 
send me an email at

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