It’s time. You’ve been thinking about it for months but never quite made it happen for one reason or another and now that it’s a new year you’ve committed.

And you are going to stick with a running program

Some of you may be running for the first time and others may be striving to increase speed or race a distance that they once thought impossible, but all of you have the same hurdle – how to turn that commitment into reality. RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU All you need is a running program.

So what are the ingredients for a perfect running program?

First and foremost, you need to determine why you want to start a running program. Are you doing so to lose weight or do you want to run a race? Do you want to PR in your favorite race distance or do you want to run a distance that you have never run before? Once you have determined why you are running you can then begin to make a plan. Here are my favorite ingredients to the perfect running program:

1. Set a goal

Decide what you want to focus on and write it down. If your goal includes racing, pick a race and mark it on the calendar. If you want to run faster, write down the race time you hope to reach. If you are running to lose weight, decide how much you want to lose and how many days a week you will run. Make sure your goal is specific and attainable. It is very difficult to determine the steps you need to take to reach a goal if the goal is vague to start with so make sure you know exactly what you are hoping to accomplish. In addition, a goal that you know you can never meet is not a goal, it’s a dream, and while dreams are great you want to set a goal you can reach in order to build confidence and stay motivated.

New year running program_22. Invest in quality running shoes/clothing

Running doesn’t have to be expensive although some of us (myself included) love the latest and greatest gizmos and gadgets to track our runs. All you really need is a quality pair of shoes and one or two running tops and bottoms (women will also need a really good sports bra made for high impact activity). I recommend going to a specialty running store and getting fitted for a pair of shoes as shoes are the MOST IMPORTANT item to purchase for running since they are what comes between your feet and the ground. If you have the money and can purchase two pairs of shoes, I recommend doing so. You can then rotate their use during training to prolong their life and reduce injury risk. Some of you will argue that all you need is a pair of running shoes but let me just say that a good pair of running tights or shorts can make the difference between a so-so run and a great run (think chafing in uncomfortable places or being too hot or too cold). I would also argue that running socks should make the list of items to spend a little more money on because blisters do not equal fun runs.

3. Location, location, location

Map out a few safe places to run near your home of varying distances. Having a few go to running routes will make it easier to complete a run when motivation is lacking. Make sure your routes are well lit in the early morning and evening hours and not isolated for safety reasons.

4. Find a running buddy

It’s hard, if not impossible, to skip a run when you know that you have someone else depending on you so find a friend with similar goals and plan to meet regularly for runs.

5. Plan your runs

A running plan can be as complicated or uncomplicated as you want but you must have a plan if you hope to reach your goal. The bare minimum should include the distance you plan to run but if you want to get more complicated you can include training paces, cross training activities, and rest days.

6. Hire a running coach

Running coaches can develop custom training plans and provide valuable input over the course of the program. Many coaches now provide affordable training plans via the internet and will customize their services based on your needs. Professional athletes have coaches so why not us? Now it’s time to get moving so put that perfect New Year running program into action and get moving! I’m always listening so if you need help with a running program, have questions or are looking for a running coach you can find me on my Expert Profile page. Happy running my friends! Connect with Expert Pauline Shiver 

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