The Fitness Guide

Rosie Gomez's Guide to Getting Fit!


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America’s Best Cities for Urban Trail Running

trail running

Running is one of the best and most popular ways to stay fit. It’s free, it’s easy, and, assuming that you’ve been given the okay from your doctor, it’s one of the best methods of exercise available to improve your overall fitness level.

While running on a treadmill at home or in the gym is fine and will certainly help you achieve your fitness goal, it can become more than a little mundane and boring. Unfortunately, when you get bored with an exercise program it can become more difficult to feel motivated.

Luckily, there are many places around the United States where runners can enjoy the outdoors and a variety of beautiful scenery while utilizing well-maintained urban trails and the more rugged dirt paths that can accompany them. Not only do these trails serve as a way for you to ditch the gym when you want to run, but using them is great way to meet other like-minded runners in your area and embrace the health benefits that come with trail running.

Here are a few of the best places in the country to take advantage of amazing urban trails.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

The runners who call Minnesota’s largest city home have a lot to be excited about. The beautiful trail called Grand Rounds is more than 50 miles long and is also recognized as a National Scenic Byway. One of the most popular parts of this trail is known as Chain of Lakes. This portion of the trail is just a little over 13 miles in length and offers runners exceptional views of the lakes. It has the advantage of abundant, natural shade. Purchase one of the many heart rate watches available to keep track of your fitness while running on this beautiful trail. Visit the Minneapolis Parks website for more information.

San Diego, California

San Diego is located on one of the most crowded areas of the California coastline, but as a very active and health-conscious city, San Diego also offers some amazing places to run. The Silver Strand trail begins in Coronado and ends at Imperial Beach. As a 15-mile round-trip journey, this trail hugs the coastline the entire way and provides some incredible views. The abundant hotels, restaurants, and shops along the way make the Silver Strand trail perfect for those times when you want to take a break, cool off, and enjoy the scenery.

trail runnerPortland, Oregon

Known around the country for its outdoorsy lifestyle and its fair share of unique and eccentric citizens, Portland is a beautiful city perched on the banks of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.

Active residents of Portland have a number of running trails to choose from, but the best and most scenic of these is the Wildwood Trail. Located to the west of downtown Portland, the Wildwood Trail is 28 miles long and features both paved and dirt paths. Open year-round, this trail is at its most beautiful during the fall when the local trees show off their beautiful colors.

Austin, Texas

Any city with a young and vibrant population is bound to have abundantly available outdoor activities and Austin is no exception. The city is rife with beautiful parks and scenic areas that just beg to be explored. The Barton Creek Greenbelt is one of the most popular areas in Austin and is hailed as an urban oasis. With only a little more than 7 miles of trails, Barton Creek Greenbelt makes up for its lack of distance with a number of activities along the way. In addition to running the trails people can swim in the creek and test out their climbing skills on the number of rock overhangs.

Whether you live in an urban area or a small town, there are always great ways to leave the gym behind and exercise in the great outdoors. Consider trail running if you’re looking for a fun and interesting way to burn calories and get fit.

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Are You Ready? How to Prepare for a 5K

5K startWhen many people make the decision to get off the couch and become healthier, they do so with a goal in mind. Typically that goal is weight loss and increased health, but many people also begin training with a more competitive goal in their sights.

5K runs are very popular in the United States, and upwards of 8,500 of these races are held each year. Some are fun races with costumes are not just encouraged but required, some races allow the participants’ dogs to join in, and almost all of them involve a worthy charity. While any race is ultimately a competition, entering a 5K is a fantastic way to assess your own personal best and to reap the rewards of all of your hard work. 

If you’ve been thinking about focusing on a 5K as your fitness goal, check out these great tips to help you get started.

See Your Doctor

You’ve likely heard this advice from everyone once you’ve decided to begin training, but it just might be the best advice you’ll ever get. Not only can your health care provider make sure that you’re healthy enough to start a fitness program, but he or she can also give you tips on diet and specific exercise strategies that can help you succeed.

Additionally, if you sustain an injury while training it can be very beneficial to your healing if your doctor is already well aware of your exercise regimen.

Choose Your Race

Even if you’ve just begun your fitness program, do some research into upcoming 5K races in your area. Choosing a race and registering for it gives you a goal to strive for and a w

ay to hold yourself accountable. Filling out the registration forms and marking the date on your calendar gives you a tangible reminder of the reasons you’ve decided to get fit in the first place.

Additionally, consider a charity race that asks you to solicit sponsors and donations. When your friends, family, and coworkers have donated money and are cheering you on, you’ll be more likely to fulfill your commitment.

Train Hard and Train Smart

Arguably the hardest part of training for a 5K is, well, the training. You’ll need to be focused on and dedicated to your goal to make it all happen. There are many online resources that outline training schedules that are specifically tailored to the first-time competitor, so browse several of them and choose the one that works for your schedule and your fitness level.

Purchase the gear you’ll need as soon as possible. While proper running shoes are the most important part of this equation, make sure that you buy adequate exercise clothing that fits well and provides support where you need it. The sight of your new running gear in the closet can serve as a powerful motivator.

Get a Training Partner

5K finish

Lastly, consider recruiting a friend. Training with a partner has proven to help beginners train more often and for longer durations than training alone. The constant motivation that you give to each other can go a long way when you’re both focusing on the same goal. Also, when you’re feeling tired and you lose your focus, having a partner can remind you why you began this fitness journey in the first place.

A fitness goal is one of the best things that you can give yourself when you begin a workout program. If that goal happens to be a 5K race then there are many ways to achieve it. Get a health assessment, choose a race, and implement a training program. Before you know it you’ll be crossing the first of what will hopefully be many finish lines.