1. Sign Up for a Race
Nothing gets you motivated like a deadline. Some favorite races: Skirt Chasers, in which women get a 3-minute head start before the men are let loose; New York's Fun Run and Happy Hour, which features post-race drink specials; and the Zooma Half Marathon & 10K series, featuring post-race shopping, massages and wine. Find a race near you.
2. Hit the Bars
Pre-run: Grab an energy bar (we've picked the tastiest so you have the fuel to run your best).
Post-run: Toss back a beer. Research conducted at Granada University in Spain shows that a pint of beer, post-workout, rehydrates the body better than water. The carbs replace lost calories and researchers believe the sugars and salts may help the body absorb fluids more quickly.
3. Get Your Perfect Training Plan
Try a 10K training plan, to feel ready at the starting line and finish strong.
4. Ease Your Knees
Runners have a decreased risk of osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, according to a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Running increases oxygen flow and flushes out toxins resulting in healthier cartilage and stronger ligaments around the knee. Already have knee pain? Find out how to nix it with these three moves.
5. Get New Shoes
Over time (as little as 6 months) running shoes lose traction and their cushioning breaks down, making you more prone to aches. Which to choose? Check out our top picks (narrowed down from 44 shoes tested by 275 women). Still some life in your old pair? Donate them to soles4souls.org, which provides shoes, free of charge, to those in need.
6. Live Longer and Better
Beyond helping you manage your weight, running has been shown to reduce blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health – all of which helps you live longer and better. Running is also a weight-bearing exercise, which can help prevent disabling osteoporosis.
7. Think About Potato Chips
Good form makes you more efficient, which means you can go longer and stronger without using up more energy. Aim to maintain an even stride, with your feet under your body as you run, and keep your shoulders loose. Our favorite form tip: Nix the tension in your arms and hands by pretending you're holding a potato chip in each hand.
8. Join the 6-Legged Race
When you run with your four-legged friend, he gets just as many health benefits as you do. What's more, running with your dog is a great way for you to bond and an easy way to stay safe on the road.
9. Lose Track of Time
If you're a data fanatic, try leaving the watch at home. "Training without a watch lets you run with a greater sense of comfort," says Frank Webbe, Ph.D., a sports psychologist who works with runners at the Florida Institute of Technology. "It helps your performance because you're paying attention to your body rather than to the watch itself."
10. Eat Dessert
The average women can burn 345 calories in just 30 minutes of running. That means you can have a 16-oz. milkshake, a 2-inch brownie with 2 tablespoons of real whipped cream, a ?-cup of Ben & Jerry's Chubby Hubby ice cream, or (that's "or," not "and"!) 3 Godiva truffles, guilt-free. Find out how many calories you can torch with our Calorie Burn Tool.
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