Between daddy-daughter selfies and philanthropic efforts, Mark Zuckerberg is certainly doing a lot more to endear himself to the masses lately. And now the Facebook founder is even doing his part to inspire his 47 million followers to get active this year. On January 4th, Zuckerberg posted on his Facebook page that he’ll be undertaking a physical challenge in 2016—he’s pledged to run 365 miles in 365 days, and has even started a group on the social network so others can join him and post their progress. The great thing about this “challenge?” It’s doable. In his call-to-action, Zuck acknowledges that it’s a relatively simple resolution: “This is a lot of running, but it's not a crazy amount. It's a mile a day, and at a moderate pace it's less than 10 minutes of running per day.”
And he’s onto something. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 75 minutes of aerobic exercise a week for adults, but a study from the University of Iowa found that running at a slow speed for just five to ten minutes a day could add about three years to average life expectancy.
Want to follow in the Facebook founder’s footsteps? Here’s what you need to kick off your 365 miles in 2016.
A good plan
If you’re starting the challenge now, it’s a little late to run a mile everyday to hit your 365. And even though some may be diligent about lacing up their running shoes every single day, it can be hard to fit in a mile every day—so you’ll probably do at least a few runs that are longer than one mile. But no need to kick off your first day with a challenging 10-miler. Start slow and easy; you’ve got 11 more months to up your mileage!
If you’re a newbie, you can even alternate between walking and running for a mile. Eventually it will get easier, and you’ll find that you’re able to run for longer periods without stopping. Want a more concrete plan of action? Try a couch-to-5K program to safely increase the length of your runs over time.
The right shoes
Invest in a good pair of running shoes. A review of running-related injury studies published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that running in a comfortable pair of shoes fit for the individual is far less likely to cause injury than a randomly selected pair based off foot style. In other words, don’t order a pair off Amazon for “overpronators” without get more information first. Instead, we recommend going to an actual running store to try on a few pairs, where you get a pro to help you find the best fit.
Usually they can check out your gait—or running form—and suggest a few shoes that might work for you. Even if you eventually go online to make your final purchase, you’ll know exactly what to pick. For longer distance runners, most experts recommend sizing shoes up one to two full sizes to account for normal foot swelling.
Energizing snacks for longer runs
Once you’ve got the right shoes and tackled the first mile, you’ll probably feel the urge to try a longer distance. Go for it! Keep your energy up by snacking on about 150 calories every 45 minutes if you workout for longer than 90 minutes. Some good on-the-go options? Honey Stinger energy chews, Banana peanut butter-smothered banana bites, or Health Warrior’s chia energy bars.
Electrolytes for post-run recovery
It’s easy to get dehydrated when you’re running every day—even in cooler weather. Something about sipping on ice-cold water just doesn’t sound as appealing as a hot coffee during the winter, and you might not even realize that you’re not drinking enough H2O until you’re already dehydrated.
Make it easier on yourself by adding extra nutrition—and a little flavor—to plain water. Coconut water in powder form makes it easy to get nature’s version of Gatorade wherever you are. And this extra-healthy pink lemonade is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that will energize you long after your run is over.
A few tools to prevent injury
Running nearly everyday naturally takes a toll on your body. Forms of exercise with repetitive movement patterns like running or cycling tax the same muscles in the same range of motion, and over time can cause injury if you’re not careful. Rehab your body accordingly—after all, it’s better to take five minutes to work out the kinks after a run than it is to be sidelined for weeks because of a strained or torn muscle.
Try a bit of self-myofascial release. When muscles are chronically tight, they’re more susceptible to tearing and injury. By applying pressure to trigger points in the belly of the muscle—like that thick area in the middle of your calf—you can release and relax muscles, tendons, and fascia. Using a foam roller to do this is one of the best (and easiest!) ways to help the body recover after exercise.
So that’s it! You’re totally ready to take on the Zuckerberg 365—just remember that it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon (kind of).