To mark the end of National Fitness Month, we wanted to highlight some great advice from Brooks Running Group’s top fitness experts. Brooks Running had a clear mission this May to inspire everyone to run and be active with the help of their “innovative gear that keeps [people] running longer, farther, and faster.” We all have various reasons for wanting to be active – whether it’s to drop weight, tone up, get strong, or live an overall healthy lifestyle. However, no matter what our reason, we can all find inspiration and motivation from what these fitness spokespeople have to say.

Meet the Experts:

Helen Beven:  An elite masters road racer who specializes in physical training for runners.

Sgt. Mike Lawson: A former NATO Commando and personal trainer who has his own Boot Camp classes.

Ashley Walsh: An ultra runner and a mom.  

Cara Esau: A marathon runner and a mom who lost over 45 pounds after having her children.  

Their Tips: For Fitness Newbies

Helen – Set realistic, achievable goals whether it be fitness or specific weight loss and begin slowly following a program.

Mike – Do not blow off a workout with a weak excuse.

Cara – Look at your schedule and carve out specific times for your workouts.  Keep those “written in stone”; they are your appointments with yourself, and you must keep them.  Most newbies who fail do so because they have not set aside that time and prioritized it.  Also, be sure that the time you have set aside is in line with your goals.  If your goal is more ambitious, of course you will need more time to achieve success!

Ashley – Have Fun! Getting healthy and fit is a good thing- not a punishment! Find a fitness hobby that is fun for you and that makes you feel good. To me there is no better way to have fun and relax than by exploring a local trail on foot. Get lost in the beauty surrounding you daily, and in time, you will reap the rewards of your efforts!

Their Tips: For Running Newbies

Helen – Good shoes.  I always recommend Brooks to my clients, but they need to go to a proper running store to get fitted.

Mike – Start slow and grow. Run happy!

Cara – Once you have a good, solid mileage base, start some harder runs, such as tempo runs, interval training, and hill training.

Ashley – A beginning runner should just have fun with their new found love! One way to incorporate speed into a new runner’s training is by trying the traditional fartlek (speed play) workout. What do you do? Whatever you want to do! That’s the beauty of it! See a funny looking tree down the trail? Run as fast as you can to it! Then slow down until you reach the lake then run even faster to a car parked nearby, etc. You get the picture. Just don’t sweat it, and enjoy yourself!

Their Tips: For the First Big Race

Helen – Never stop on a hill.  If you feel the need to stop, do it at the top!

Mike – Listen to your body for minor aches and pains and treat them.

Cara – Have a specific plan to attain your goal.  Know what you are going to do every day during your workouts.

Ashley – One secret to training successfully for a big race is actually not training at all! That’s right- RESTING! Resting is key to solid training.

Their Tips: For the Home

Helen – Good nutrition and at least 8 hours of sleep a night.

Mike – While relaxing in living/TV room, stretch and work on core with basic crunches and planks. Cross train other muscle groups. (push-ups, bicep curls, tricep extensions etc.) Stay strong. This will help your running.

Cara – Do the classic core exercises at home every other day:  Plank, side plank, and bridge.  Additionally, you can work on many other leg exercises at home, including squats, lunges, side leg lifts, and calf raises.

Ashley – Find a wall- isometric training, such as wall sits, are great for building strength in your legs. It’s simple, and a good kind of painful! Trail and mountain running requires a great deal of leg strength while tackling climbs and descents.

Their Tips: For Stretching

Helen – I always like to start with dynamic stretching before a run because it warms up the muscles gradually – I like inch worming, walking lunges, high knee lifts and jumping jacks. – Helen

Mike –

#1- Calf stretch

#2- Hamstring stretch

#3- Quad stretch

Cara – Along with stretching, remember the foam roller!  Roll the glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, and IT band.

Ashley – Ask a partner for help- If you have a friend or family member that doesn’t mind your stinky running shoes and socks, have them help you out in your stretching. They might be able to assist you by stretching your legs a little more than you can on your own!

Their Tips: Ways to stay safe and run happy this summer

Helen – In the summer, try running first thing in the morning before it really heats up.

Mike – Get out in nature. It cleanses the soul.

Cara – I love, love, love the Brooks apparel with bright colors so runners can be visible on the roads.  And we look so confident when we wear fluorescent yellow!

Ashley – HYDRATE! Spring and Summer means WARM and HOT! While running in the heat, especially long distance, it is vital to replace water and electrolytes lost during exercise. I have witnessed first-hand (by ending up in the ICU) the damage caused by failing to hydrate properly! Always start a run with a full water bottle or hydration pack, and plan your route to include refill stops.