It’s getting close to that time of year again….where we start to consider our health and fitness; or it will be soon. Lots of people worry about over eating (me!) or just eating too many sweets (me again) over the upcoming holidays. If you are one of these people its time to make a plan. Set a goal. Then go for a run.
Each year I indulge in way too many holiday feasts and sweets and ice cream! So every holiday my goal is to run a ½ marathon to run off all the calories willfully consumed during the holidays. All the training and then the running for 2 hours, is a great way to get back in beach shape and burn off all those holiday calories.
How about you?
I know January is when there are the most new gym memberships each year. If you are one of those persons, or just exercise on an off, I wanted to offer some tips on doing some cardio (running) to keep those clothes fitting.
Set a goal to run one or more 5K, 10K or half marathon race after the holidays are over. Running is the best way to burn calories. Your added training to complete your goal(s) are a healthy way to enjoy the holiday festivities and not feel guilty.
You don’t have to win these events, just finish and have some fun. You would be amazed at the atmosphere of other happy fitness fanatics afterwards. It’s like a party.
I have been a runner all my life. While I haven’t had a great deal of training in it I have acquired some ‘best methods’ in being the best runner I can be. I wanted to offer these basic running tips to you in case you are feeling the need to get healthier too. Certainly once you feel comfortable you can add more competitive habits to your training.
Here’s a great place to learn more, http://www.runnersworld.com/ where you can learn about ALL things running.
BREATHING : It goes without saying, breathing is crucial to running. If you are getting (back) in shape I always say the heart muscle is the first muscle to strengthen. That includes making your lungs more efficient too. Simply, you need oxygen in your blood. In a sense the oxygen gives you more energy. Ever notice how you breathe lots heavier at the end of the run than the beginning? Your blood needs more oxygen. So give it more!
When you run focus on your form (pick those knees up) and your breathing! Focus on taking deeper breaths before your body asks for them. It gives you more energy over a long run.
When you get tired, and you want to give up, focus on taking deeper breaths and give it another 3 minutes to get the oxygen in your system. It works! I actually adopted a running form from my 6 year old. When I chased her she placed the tip of her tongue against her upper lip and took off. For me, it gets my tongue out-of-the-way to take in more air. I look like a goof! But I
am was beating 90% of my competition now!
STRETCHING: I hope everyone stretches. The older you get the more you need this! Stretching is important both before and after your run. Why after? Ever feel real tight after a good run? Stretch those muscles out again before they clamp up. Your legs will feel MUCH better that evening.
Stretch a good 10-15 minutes before and after each run. The more loose and warm your muscles are the easier it is to run. You know this. Remember those runs when your legs just feel too heavy and tight to run? How much time did you do stretching? You just do your best running if your muscles are as loose as they were when you were 12. You didn’t have any trouble then, did you?
NUTRITION: Eat healthy, become lighter. That makes sense doesn’t it? Eat protein, become stronger! I take a weight lifters mentality to recovery. When you exercise you break down muscle tissue. You build that muscle up by consuming protein, hopefully with in the first hour after you exercise.
When I run hard I want to be stronger the next time I run to be able to run faster or further. Protein shakes or bars and some lean protein for dinner. Are your muscles hurting after you run? Give them what they are begging for…protein.
RUNNING APPAREL: This is not about fashion. It is about running efficiency. Most runners can’t run well when they are hot, or over heated. So think about how much you wear before you start out. Don’t over dress. It is extra weight, confining, and makes you feel tired because your body spends too much energy trying to cool you down.
A rule of thumb is dress for about 10 degrees cooler than the outside temperature actually is. Why? Your body heat will rise when you hit your stride running, right? If you start out dressed warmly, your body temp rises that much higher.
My ideal outside temp is 50-60 degrees. When it is over 75 I can’t run my best as I just get too hot…and I can only strip down so far!
JOIN SOME AREA RUNS: You have worked hard. You have sacrificed in time, food, and comfort. So reward yourself. You have earned it, right!Take time to have some fun for all the sacrifices. Join an area run! Or better yet, grab a friend to come along.
Most running events are fundraisers to support noble and worthwhile charities. You’ll feel good about supporting these! The charitable organizations want to raise as much money as possible so they try to make the event as attractive as possible to get as many participants (funds) as they can. Most area runs have all types of runners and walkers….all types.
These events make it fun to run with some great post-race parties, including free beverages, fruits, and giveaways! If I haven’t lost you, here is a great example of what I mean from a favorite local race. The first 2 minutes are about the charity and who it benefits (kids hospitals). The rest shows the fun Christmas themed run downtown as participants (and dogs) dress in their favorite Christmas running outfits and the party that takes place afterwards. Take a look:
Have fun with your fitness! It doesn’t matter if you are the fastest or slowest. (You won’t be the slowest) Just go to run. Run at a pace that allows you to finish and enjoy it. Then meet other running comrades at the post-race party. You’ll see, everyone is happy and in a great mood. And so will you! You did it!
Then you’ll want to run another one.
There are lots of other tips in running but these are some basics to consider. Whether young or old, new or experienced. Have fun! Stay Healthy! Eat some more Christmas Ham…you’ll run it off!