When January rolls in, so does a deluge of so-called health food and exercise fads. Those who seek to become stronger and healthier might have their heart in the right place, but don’t be tricked by the barrage of New Year’s health trends that are anything but. Below, six of the most common January body-focused challenges and whether or not runners should even think about trying them out. 

RELATED: January: the practice month for your 2018 resolutions?

Juice cleanses 

The first week of January is, for many, juice cleanse time. For runners, we give this fad the red light. The reason why this one doesn’t get the stamp of approval: juice cleanses usually deprive the body of the proper amount of calories it needs to run. That’s even worse for runners who require extra fuel for their workouts. Sure, hydrate and consume fresh fruits and vegetables these days… just make sure to keep a full and balanced diet while you’re at it. 

Dry January

Dry January is a classic challenge to start the calendar year. It also happens to be one we approve of. Generally, people who take up this challenge swear off alcohol for the entire month as a way to recharge from those cocktails and hefty beers consumed over the holidays. Since alcohol dehydrates and interrupts sleep, this can only do good things for your running. If this is your thing, go for it. 

“Clean eating” 

Now here’s a buzz word that’s tossed around rather frequently. “Clean eating” can mean many things. If the goal is to eat fresh ingredients, cut down on refined sugars and processed foods, well, great. If however “clean eating” is a way to eat very little or cut out key food groups, say sayonara to this one. Again, depriving the body is not a healthy way to start 2018.

The gym overdose

We know that the gyms tend to see an influx in participation in the days after toasting to a new year. Remember though, there’s a balance between being a complete couch potato and overdoing it. Head to the gym, yes – but don’t burn yourself out.  

The 30-day challenge

Likely at this time of year, your social media feeds are cluttered with 30-day (or insert other time period) challenge ideas. Again, don’t jump into something that’s just going to leave you fried. Run streaks might sound like a good idea but committing to daily exercise just for the sake of it isn’t the recipe for a healthy relationship with fitness this year. Plus, the rigid schedule could lead runners to ignoring aches and pains for the sake of keeping up that tally count. That could make for an injury before the winter is even over. 


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