- Avoid the evening meltdown: There's no way you can have an epic evening run if you're too exhausted to move. To ensure you have enough energy to run for 30 minutes or longer, be sure to get a solid night of sleep the night before.
- Eating right all day is key: Eat a healthy, 300- to 500-calorie breakfast and lunch, both including protein and complex carbs. Make sure both are easy to digest — it's probably not the best idea to try out that new atomic chili at your favorite cafe. If you're running before dinnertime, be sure to snack on something an hour before working out — a combo of quick-digesting carbs and protein like a banana with a little peanut butter or a small fruit and yogurt smoothie is perfect. Then refuel with protein and carbs for dinner. If you're running after eating dinner, make sure your meal is easy to digest, avoiding high-fat and gas-producing foods. Once your late-night workout is complete, snack on a little protein and carbs, keeping it to 100 to 150 calories such as a glass of chocolate milk or some crackers with nut butter.
- Drink this: Dehydration can cause dizziness and cramping, so sip on water all day long before your run. Just be sure to hit the bathroom before heading out.
- Prep work: After a busy day, make switching to workout-mode as easy as possible by having your outfit and all your gear ready to go. Throw everything you need in a gym bag and change immediately at the end of the day, so even if you have to run an errand before hitting the pavement, you won't be tempted to skip out.
- Avoid distractions: Your mind is set on running so don't let anything keep you from lacing up. Don't answer the phone, check your email, or get too cozy at home beforehand (you know you'll end up on the couch).
- Warm up: If you've been sitting at a desk for nearly eight hours, your body feels so tight that doing a few Sun Salutations to get your blood flowing, Circling Three-Legged Dogs to open tight hips, and this knee-in plank warm-up to stretch the lower back and hamstrings will not only feel amazing, but can also help prevent injury.
- Be safe: Feeling anxious about your well-being is no way to have the best run ever, but a few precautions is all it takes to feel protected from danger. Make sure you have your route planned out so you know exactly where you're running and how long it'll take. Keep it simple; go for an out-and-back run, hit an outdoor track, or do block repeats so you're close to home. Run in well-lit, well-populated areas, and to ease any anxieties about safety, run with a buddy or your dog.
- Outside motivation: If you find it hard to motivate after a long day, find something that gets you excited for those 30 minutes. Sign up for a race so you have a running schedule to follow, run with a few co-workers so you can vent about work the entire time, create a new kick-ass playlist like this, or listen to an audiobook.
- And now for the reward: Knowing you have something special to look forward to when you get back like a delicious dinner or a new bubble bath is sure to put a smile on your beet-red face. Get it ready either the night or morning before your evening run so when you get home you can enjoy the rest of your night.
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