Getting started with a new running or training program? Here are a few essential products to help you succeed.
When you’re getting started with a new running or training program, getting the right equipment is critical to your success. Your footwear is usually the most essential and expensive purchase that you’ll have to make. Because staying hydrated on the go is important for good performance, getting a good water bottle that’s durable and lightweight is also essential.
Why you need quality shoes: There are so many risks associated with overtraining in the wrong type of shoes, especially a pair that’s worn out or fits poorly. Some of those risks include knee pain, shin splints, Achilles tendon strain and stress fractures. If you’re running in shoes that have lost their support or are generally worn down, you’re at a greater risk of getting injured.
Protection and performance: Wearing quality shoes prevents your feet from getting sore, corrects imbalances and helps to stabilize them. Selecting the right pair of shoes may actually help to improve running technique and foot placement.
When it’s time to get a new pair: You can tell that your shoes are worn down on the inside when the arch support has become flat, or the inserts have become thin. On the outside of the shoe, the heel and toe area tend to be areas that show wear. Once you can see wear patterns created by the way your feet hit the floor, it’s a good indication that the shoe is no longer helping to correct your foot placement or providing you with proper support. Also, if the bottom of your shoes no longer have a good tread pattern, it’s well past the time for getting a new pair.
How to pick the right shoe: Technology has come a long way, and I’m a believer in buying the right shoe for the purpose intended. Selecting the right shoe should be a priority for anyone who enjoys engaging in regular physical activity. There’s a fine balance between getting a shoe that’s supportive and essentially takes over the job of the small connecting structures in the feet, and getting a pair that’s not supportive enough.
Runners: If you’re an avid runner like me, selecting a shoe that’s designed with running in mind is the best way to go. Distance running shoes are often more lightweight and designed to encourage good running posture.
Cross-training: If you mix up your mode of training, selecting a good quality cross-trainer is also a good option. Shoes with a lower back are best for working out in the gym, so you don’t restrict the Achilles tendon and ankles when doing step-ups and squats.
Supportive designs: These are great if you have a known imbalance, such as over-pronating, because they can help to correct this problem with each stride. A supportive shoe is also best if you run a lot on concrete.
A lightweight, less supportive design: This type of design offers limited cushioning from the lumps and bumps of your chosen running surface. This may leave your feet feeling a little tender, and it puts you at risk of sustaining an injury. However, if worn in the right conditions, such as on soft grass or sand, this type of shoe will help you to strengthen up the small, often under-worked muscles and tendons in the feet and ankles.
Get fitted: Go to a store that specializes in running and get fitted by a pro. It’s free and well worth the time.
Staying hydrated when you’re exercising is critical, especially when it’s hot outside or when you’re doing an intense routine that makes you sweat. Purchase a water bottle that suits your training needs, is lightweight and easy to clean. It’s important so that you feel comfortable taking it with you when you’re out on the go.
Distance running: Consider purchasing a belt that holds a water bottle, or one with a strap that goes around your hand so that you’re not discouraged from carrying it. If you’re running for 90 minutes or more, there are several great backpack options so that you’re completely hands-free.
Consider choosing BPA-free: There’s a lot of conflicting research out there, but I believe that erring on the side of caution is best. Choose a bottle that is BPA-free, especially if you train outside in the hot sun.
Glass bottles: Using a glass bottle is a great option, and there are some really good products from which to choose. Glass is easier to keep clean than plastic and it tends to last longer. However, in a gym setting, plastic is a safer option.
Dishwasher-safe: Keeping your water bottle clean can be a pain, especially when you’re adding important electrolytes or carbs to your bottle. Being able to throw it into the dishwasher will make things easier and keep your bottle free from bacteria.
The equipment you choose will go a long way towards supporting you in your workouts. Making sure you have a properly fitting pair of workout shoes and a water bottle will go a long way towards keeping you injury-free and hydrated.
Samantha Clayton is responsible for all activities relating to exercise and fitness education for Independent Herbalife Members and employees. Through in-person training sessions, educational tools and materials, and her blog (www.discovergoodfitness.com), she ensures that the important role of exercise as part of a healthy, active life is understood by all. She also helps create, organize and promote employee fitness programs and activities as an integral part of the company’s corporate wellness program.
A native of Liverpool, England, Samantha initially worked as a consultant for Herbalife for two years and led the Herbalife24-Fit program, the company’s first comprehensive fitness training program and DVD series.
Before joining the corporate ranks, Samantha was a professional athlete. She represented Great Britain in the 2000 Sydney Olympics in both the 200m and the 4x100m relay events. Prior to the Olympics, she won two medals in the Olympic AAA trials – a silver medal for the 200m and a bronze for the 100m – as well as a silver medal in the 4x100m relay during the European Junior Championships in 1997. Her personal records include 11.40 seconds in the 100m and 23.02 seconds in the 200m.
Samantha is a personal trainer and group exercise coach through the American Fitness and Aerobics Association (AFAA) and International Sport Science Association (ISSA).