New Beginnings

by Dean Karnazes

Universally, the New Year brings new beginnings, as people across the globe make resolutions to improve their lives. Being Greek, my inclination has traditionally been to start the New Year with a renewed focus on physical health. As a longtime runner, I find the joys of life are diminished when my physical health isn’t prioritized. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or lacing up your shoes and establishing a running habit for the first time, good physical health doesn’t have to mean setting your sights on an ultramarathon. Whatever your circumstances or experience, focusing on optimal physical shape for your unique profile can make life even more enjoyable.

Achieving physical excellence at any level requires effort and commitment. But getting in shape doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming. Keep it simple and start from the ground up. First, invest in a good pair of running or walking shoes. Working with a knowledgeable staff member at your local running store to find a pair of good-fitting shoes is money very well spent. Footwear technology has advanced considerably in the past several years, and new shoes will make your fitness journey all the more enjoyable.

I emphasize running or walking as a baseline physical activity because the barriers to entry are perhaps the lowest of any sport. Invest in a good pair of shoes and there’s no need to budget for gym membership fees or fancy equipment. Most importantly, no specialized skills are required.

Next, though not essential, I recommend wearing moisture-wicking clothing, including socks. High-performance fabrics are engineered to keep you cool and dry, which means you’ll be more comfortable and much more likely to stick to your new routine.

I’m also a big fan of good-quality eyewear. Our eyes are subject to the same environmental assaults as the rest of our body, including damaging UV rays, pollen, dust, debris, and even insects. Protecting your eyes just makes good sense. I’ll admit, I’m somewhat of an elitist when it comes to sunglasses. Being a lifelong outdoorsman, my eyes have already taken a beating, so I protect them with premium sunglasses. High-end eyewear doesn’t just filter out harmful UV rays, it also improves your vision, making the whole world pop with sharper colors and richer contrasts. I know, I know, the investment tally is growing, but what investment yields better returns than physical health?

Lastly, I recommend covering your noggin with a good UPF 50+ sun-protective cap or visor. Smart headwear is honestly a no-brainer. A good-quality running hat, such as the Vaporlite Stride Cap or the Meridian Thermal Visorband, keeps the sun off your face and ears, prevents sweat from dripping down your forehead, and helps regulate your body temperature in all kinds of weather. In addition to offering technical features such as adjustable sizing, moisture-wicking sweatbands, and, of course, UPF 50+ sun protection, these running hats look stylish. They’ll keep you comfortable and looking good while you run or walk outdoors.

Now that you’ve got your gear sorted out, it’s time to start moving! For beginners, start by trying to walk or run for five continuous minutes. The goal should be to reach the five-minute mark entirely spent and out of breath. Once you’re able to do this, set your sights on 10 minutes. Then 15 minutes. What I like about this approach is that you don’t need any specialized equipment or tracking devices. A simple wristwatch will suffice.

After you’re able to run or walk for 15 continuous minutes, then you can look at distance goals, as opposed to time goals. Perhaps set your sights on a 5K (just over three miles). There are a number of free training plans available online. A more structured program called Couch to 5K (C25K) provides guidance and support for those new to running.

I hope these tips and suggestions are helpful, no matter where you are on your journey to improve your life. Whatever your goals for the New Year are, let 2023 be the year you reclaim your physical health and all the benefits that come as a result.

I hope these tips and suggestions are helpful, no matter where you are on your journey to improve your life. Whatever your goals for the New Year are, let 2023 be the year you reclaim your physical health and all the benefits that come as a result.

Dean Karnazes

About Dean Karnazes

Dean Karnazes is an ultramarathoner, best-selling author, and Sunday Afternoons Ambassador. Named one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” by TIME magazine, Karnazes’s accomplishments include running 50 marathons, one in each of the 50 U.S. states, in 50 consecutive days; running across Death Valley in the middle of summer; and running a marathon to the South Pole. He has also found success as a competitive racer, winning the Badwater Ultramarathon, known as the World’s Toughest Footrace, and the 4 Deserts Challenge, racing in the hottest, driest, windiest, and coldest places on Earth. His most recent book is A Runner’s High.

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