"Get fit to run, don't run to get fit." Winter, I mean summer, I mean spring…. is here? I think…

Since we’ve been graced with an extremely mild winter, we’ve had more opportunities to get outside and exercise; most notably, you’ll see a surge of runners cruising the streets.

And who can blame them? We’ve had great weather, so why not get outside, exercise and explore the area?

But before you hit the pavement and jam to your favorite running playlist, there are a few important steps you should follow to help you get the most out of your run: Below, I've listed what I believe is most important.

#1: Get FIT for New Running Shoes

I’m telling you this first because it’s the most important (yes, there is something more important than your playlist or running outfit, though this does fall under the outfit category). I’m telling you this because a lot of what goes wrong with our bodies starts at ground level (our feet) and moves north.

That pain in your knee could easily be a result of wearing flat shoes that don’t provide any support to your high arches. This leads to knee pain (or runner’s knee), which leads to your jacked-up hip, low back problems, right earaches and, of course, your left stink eye. Ok, everything up to the back was true!

You get what I’m sayin’? I hope so.

Get yourself to a reputable running store in the area and specifically tell the sales associate:

“I run and exercise X times a week, log about X amount of miles per week, and have never been fit properly for a pair of running shoes. I need your help.”

Personally, I’m a loyalist and traditionalist, so when I find something good I don’t go anywhere else. I’ve been showing my love and support to the Fenty family at Fleet Feet in Adams Morgan for years now; such a solid shop!

However, if you can’t get to Fleet Feet DC, there are plenty of other shops around the area that I’ve heard good things about.

Fleet Feet DC - http://www.fleetfeetdc.com

Georgetown Running Company - http://www.therunningcompany.net/

Potomac River Running - http://potomacriverrunning.com/

Pacers – http://runpacers.com/

Here’s an old video I shot with Shawn Fenty a few years ago with an old VHS camcorder (kidding), but here you go.

#2: Establish a WARM-UP Routine

Now that you’re looking the part with the proper footwear, it’s time to act the part and get a good warm-up routine together.

Chances are you’ve got a desk job that keeps your butt inactive and in a seated position for the majority of the day. So, before you begin your run, it’s important to warm-up those muscles and get them ready for the trip ahead.

Ever heard the acronym KISS? Keep It Simple Stupid. This awesome acronym is applicable to a lot of things in life, but today it applies to warming up. Keep your warm-up simple and make it regular just like your morning routine.

Here’s an old school video that I shot a few years ago using a routine I really like. It makes everything from the hips down ready for a run. Give it a try and laugh all you want. I was a skinny triathlete during this shoot.

Our Bootcamp warm-up is hands down one of the best you can do for your entire body.

#3: Map a Route with HILLS

Why?

1. Because running hills puts less impact on your body, specifically the force with which your foot hits the pavement, and encourages proper running form. Uphill running puts more weight on your forefoot instead of your heel, which is actually the proper way to run. Abandon heel to toe strike and shorten up your stride.

2. Running uphill is much harder than running on a flat surface.

3. Hills burn more calories.

4. Hills develop greater strength.

5. They provide greater cardio conditioning.

6. After you get good at them, running on flat surfaces is a walk in the park.

7. It’s a new challenge! Can you push yourself to the top? If not, you’ve got a new challenge along your route. And if you can get to the top? OK, shave 10 seconds off that hill climb, and 10 more, and 10 more… Too easy? Climb it again.

8. New challenges = goals

9. Small accomplished goals = less steps to the big goal

10. Because if reaching your goals was easy, everyone would hang out on ellipticals and watch TV.

Need some inspiration? Here are a few of my favorite hills to climb: Listed from easiest to hardest

1. 29th St: Begin on Calvert St. NW. Finish at Cathedral Ave. NW. (Steady slope, moderate length)

2. Rock Creek Park (Woodley Park Metro) Begin in RCP behind the Omni Hotel, finish on Calvert St. NW (short, sweet, and steep. Grass surface available too)

3. Macomb St. NW: Begin on Connecticut Ave. NW. Finish at Wisconsin Ave. NW.

4. Porter St. NW (from bottom to top) begin in the valley between Connecticut Ave. and Adams Mill Rd. Finish on Wisconsin Ave. (super long)

If you have a favorite running store share it with the rest of us. Got a favorite dreadful hill that you love/hate? Let us know that, too!

Happy hill climbing in your fancy new footwear!

Dedicated to your health and success,

Carmen