Today I went for my fourth run of the season. Although I've run for the past 20 years, I still tend to think of myself as a fair-weather runner, except for the year my daughter was born and I ran my one and only half marathon the week before she turned one. Since then, I've run off and on, largely in the better weather and less so in recent years when I've had a few injuries. I've had my injuries tended to and am feeling relatively healthy, so this is the summer that I plan to run more....

But I have some work to do! In my first few runs of the season, here's what I've noticed:

  1. I need to work on keeping my shoulders relaxed when I'm breathing.
  2. I like a 30 second walk break after every 8-10 minutes of running. I find it gives me more energy.
  3. I need to work on not slapping my feet on the ground.
  4. I need to run more than one or two times each week to feel any benefit. If I run less, it's just hard every. single. time. Also, if I want to increase my distance to burn more calories, I should be out more than once a week. During a 30 minute run, with my heart rate in the fat burning zone, I burn between 250 - 300 calories.
  5. I MUST buy a new pair of running shoes as each time I run, I hate my current ones a little more (and they're likely the cause of the foot slapping above, since that's never happened to me before!)
  6. I need to put some better music on my phone!!

If you're just starting out with a running program (or any fitness program for that matter!), here are a few tips to help you stay motivated and injury free:

  1. Buy new shoes: If you've just had a baby, your feet have most likely changed since you wore your last pair of running shoes. We also tend to underestimate how much our old shoes have actually been worn and wear our running shoes for MUCH longer than we should (I'm guilty of this also). Running shoes aren't cheap, so consider them an investment in your well being.
  2. Start slow and work your way up: This applies to each run/workout session, as well as your overall fitness program. If you're out running, start slow to warm up your muscles, get your blood flowing, gradually increase your heart rate and mentally prepare yourself to go the distance you've chosen. This preparation will help prevent injuries. Use this philosophy with your overall fitness program as well, so that you are motivated instead of discouraged. If you haven't been running recently, a run/walk program is a great way to ease into it.
  3. Hydrate: Drink lots of water, especially if you're nursing a baby.
  4. Finish with a stretch: Stretching will help prevent any injuries and will help you feel less sore afterwards. 
  5. Commit to 2-3 times/week of something physical: Twice a week is great, but three times a week will really help you achieve your fitness goals!

Here's to a great season of fitness and fun! If you have any fitness goals for this summer, I'd love to hear about them in the comments below and help you exceed them!