With New Year’s fitness resolutions in full swing, it’s time to get a “running start” on your fitness program. By starting off with a bang, you can also beat the post-stress of the holidays and reduce the lingering food related overindulgence guilt.
Starting a running program
So where do you start? First of all, you need to make an honest self evaluation about your current level of fitness. If you have been dormant for an extended period of time, consult a physician and get clearance for exercise. Next you need to determine your running goals. Are you interested in fitness only, completing a 5K, 10K, half-marathon or marathon? Each of these activities requires a different workout plan. I will cover specific training programs to complete 5K runs/races through marathons in future articles.
Proper running gear
First and foremost, you will need the proper running gear. This is the time of year when weather can change rapidly. Always dress in light weight layers. If you become too warm, you can remove a layer. The best practice is to warm up and stretch before starting the workout. This will allow you determine if you have too many or too little layers before jumping straight into the workout. There are numerous “high-tech” running garments available that “breathe” and allow moisture to evaporate. Try to avoid bulky cotton type garments that absorb moisture and become heavy. A light weight hat and gloves will also be beneficial in retaining body heat before, during and after your run.
If you live in an area that receives snow, then you may want to invest in a trail type running shoe with better grip on snowy surfaces. There are also products that are designed to fit on your shoes and provide traction in icy/ snowy conditions.
Be seen while running
While some municipal trails may be passable for running in the winter, most are not. This requires runners to share roads with motorists. Combine the reduced daylight hours with motorists distracted by holiday lighting, and you have increased potential for a collision. Always wear highly reflective materials so you will be seen by motorists. Running vests are a good option if you don’t have clothing with reflective strips built in. Stores like REI have numerous options for reflective running gear .
Additional cool weather running tips
- Make sure you hydrate as often during your run in the cool months as you would during warm weather months.
- Try to plan your run so you can finish by running with the wind. If you run with the wind to start and finish by running into the wind, you may get very chilled and uncomfortable.
- Keep an eye on traffic at snowy intersections. Motorists have a tendency to roll through stop signs to avoid getting stuck and there is potential for a collision with runners.
By following these basics, you can get a “running start” on your New Year’s resolution running program.