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Tips, tools to get you running smart

January 11, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Jogging or running seems like a perfect workout to burn off those holiday pounds and get into a new fitness groove. But before you hit the road, here are a few tips and the tools to keep you on the path to success.

"Running is the single best thing for your health, it's the single best thing to lose weight and get in shape," said Dr. Jason Karp, an exercise physiologist.

Karp loves running but says to get started take smart steps before heading out the door.

"Initially for beginners it's really best to go for time rather than worry about mileage because our bodies adapt, they understand two things: how hard it's working and how long it's working," he said.

And for the newbie that's not so long.

"Fifteen minutes might be the most that you can do initially and that's fine. For some people they may have to mix walking and running - do like three minutes walk, three minutes run, three minutes walk, three minutes run," said Karp.

Walking or light jogging works to warm up. Stretching is done after your run, not before.

And after your run, fuel up. Even if you're not hungry, you have to replenish those muscles, they need glycogen and glucose. So have a bit of protein and carbohydrate within 30 minutes of your workout: like yogurt, fruit and nuts, apple and nut butter, a whole grain sandwich with fruit or, in a pinch, chocolate milk.

In addition new apps and websites can help, like the WatchMe 911 app.

"I am kind of on my own, so I was always a little bit nervous on uneven terrain because I did have a little mishap at one point a few years ago," said Amy McEachern, a Redondo Beach resident.

An injured McEachern waited an hour on a trail until discovered. Now she uses the iPhone app WatchMe 911. Inputting her route and run time, which she deactivates on return if home safe. But if something happens on the road, a message is sent to her contacts letting them know. The app works in other areas as well, such as when you leave the office late at night, when you're walking the dog by yourself or even when you go out on a first date.

From Coolrunning.com, there's Couch-to- 5K, a step in the right direction if you're planning on running long term, with run schedules, injury prevention tips and more.

Need a partner to pound the pavement? JoggingBuddy.com helps people connect by location and fitness level, free of charge.

Finally, $40 Knuckle Lights with complimentary button reflectors are great for those early morning workouts to see and be seen.