The Best Fitness Tips to Support Your Running Goals in 2017
At the beginning of the year, people flock to the gym to fulfill their resolve to work on their physical fitness. If you’re one of the many people looking to leave 2016 in a trail of dust, maybe running is just the way to do it. Sometimes it’s hard to even know where to start. I was there once, too, but overcame and now have two full and seven half marathons under my belt. I want to share with you some of my best tips and advice to set yourself up for miles and miles of success.
Beginning again (again)
During my high school days and time in the U.S. Army, I really enjoyed running. But then I had kids. Between my family, work and other commitments, I stopped making time to run. Honestly, I stopped making time for myself, in general. I felt unhealthy and perpetually tired. This part may sound familiar to a lot of you. It took some urging from my besties, but once my youngest turned 2, I decided it was time to lace up again. It started out slow, just running a few times a week. It took me two years, but I worked up to running my first marathon.
Find your “why”
Before you go on that first run, determine your motivation. Overall health? Stress? To reach a specific goal?
For me, it's how I feel on a daily basis. Now that I’m running again, I've never felt better in my entire life. The “runner's high” that you’ve heard about is no myth. Every other moment of the day I am someone else — employee, wife, mom. But when I’m on a run, it’s just me. I have the space to work through things weighing on my mind. It’s amazing that I can be completely perplexed by a problem and within five miles, I’ve got it worked out. Even my children see it! When they feel I’m losing my calm, they suggest that I take a run. I also used to struggle with insomnia. When I run, I get to sleep quickly and sleep much deeper, which improves my overall energy levels.
So find your “why” and dangle it like a carrot.
Make it happen
I’m not going to lie to you: Running is a time commitment. All seasoned and aspiring runners need to be methodical.
- Make a plan for your run. Some beginning runners have found success using programs like Couch To 5K. I never begin a run without a pre-planned route and a goal of what I’d like to accomplish that day (speed or distance).
- Have the right footwear. If you’re serious about running, I’d suggest having your feet professionally fitted and shoes tailor made. This makes a huge difference in your ability to run further. I like The Running Well Store in the Northland.
- Tracking apps. Invest in a step counter of some sort — I am borderline obsessed with my Garmin 235 watch and use apps like Map My Run.
- Lay your clothes out the night before. Seems overly simple, right? I see it as one less excuse between me and the road.
- Make your run visual. I keep my running schedule in clear view on my refrigerator and cross off my goals daily. Since Instagram is my jam, I follow Runner's World for extra visual inspiration. They share awesome tips!
- Use the 5 second rule. And I’m not talking about eating food off the floor. I have been inspired by Mel Robbins’ "5 Second Rule." When the alarm goes off, count to five and just get up. Make it happen. Put motivating words on your alarm if you have to. But in that 5 seconds, you gather the willpower to wake up and show up. It’s awesome.
The key? Support
Staying accountable is half the battle. Finding resources to help keep you motivated is incredibly important.
- Find your cheerleaders. Too often we neglect our own personal goals outside of work or parenthood, so those around you don’t know what you are striving to accomplish for “you.” If you share your goals, those that support you will help you get there!
- Heck, find a whole squad. I believe in the power of a running squad and having others keep you accountable. It’s a lot harder to bail on a run when you know you’re ditching someone at 4 or 5am. If they can get up and do it, you can be there too. If you don’t have someone to run with, there are running communities all over the metro where you can meet up with other runners and join their route. To find these like-minded folks, head into your local running store and they’d be more than happy to help connect you.
- Kids. And if you’re like me and have kids, the support of your spouse or partner is key. My husband also runs and we make it a priority to juggle the kids to ensure the other has time to fit in their daily run. I’m also a big advocate of using sitters for runs, which sounds funny, but sometimes it’s necessary. If they can help by coming over for a few hours, that’s a great use for a sitter in my opinion.
Fuel your run
I wish I could tell you that if you started running, you could eat pizza three meals a day and it would be NBD. But, sadly, that’s not the case. There probably isn’t a truer statement than “you are what you eat.”
- Plan and prep your meals and snacks. Just as carefully as you plan out your run, take the time to plan what is going to go into your mouth. It doesn’t have to be complicated! Here’s an example.
- Look for inspiration. You don’t have to give up all the foods you love, you just need a different perspective. A quick Google or Pinterest search will help uncover plenty of food ideas to fuel your run.
- Pass me the lasagna. I like cooking, especially if its healthy food that my kids won’t turn their noses up at. My very favorite cookbook is “Run Fast, Eat Slow” by Shalane Flanagan. Her Marathon Lasagna is to die for.
- There is a direct correlation between the food that goes into your mouth and the quality of your run. I can shave 30 minutes off my run time based on what I’m eating.
- Meal prep is key. Because, you know, time is everything.
My best advice
My best advice to you is this: Be flexible. First and foremost, I’m a mom. While I try my very best to work runs into my schedule, sometimes things just don’t work out the way I’d hoped. And that’s okay. Remain flexible and focused so you can get right back on track.
The most fulfilling compliment I’ve ever received came from my 12 year old son a few weeks ago. He told me that he thinks it’s really awesome that I make health a priority. Cue my heart swelling with pride.
It may not be super easy, but I promise it will be worth it. You’re worth it. I’m excited for you as you take this next step toward becoming a runner and accomplishing your goal. Good luck!