In last week’s column we encouraged setting a fitness goal by running or walking in one of the events that will be held in Tucson over the coming months. The first step in any training program, whether you are a novice or an Olympian, is to stay healthy. Today, we get some great advice on staying healthy from two local fitness experts.

First up is Tia Accetta, one of the faster runners in town. Yup, she’s my wife, but she’s also a Road Runners Club of America-certified running coach and one of the top runners in the West. Here are her top six tips for starting a training program:

1. Run  safely by running in an area that is well lit and well used by fellow pedestrians. For inspiration, go to Sabino Canyon, Saguaro National Park or Catalina State Park for the scenery. For your daily exercise, if you don’t live in a runner-friendly neighborhood, find a multi-use path, a track or even a treadmill.

2. Eat properly by stocking up on healthy snacks and/or planning meals around your workout. Especially as the temperatures rise, drink water throughout the day. Many runners set the morning alarm early enough to eat a piece of toast or a banana before their morning run, or you can eat a light lunch and have a small afternoon snack if you are going to run right after work.

3. Get a good night’s sleep. If you want to perform well physically, you must get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.

4. If you feel any nagging pains while you are running, STOP. Sore muscles tend to stop hurting once you start exercising but an injured muscle will feel worse.

5. Make sure you have fresh shoes that fit properly. Treat yourself to new running shoes from one of the local specialty running stores as a reward for all the work you are about to do.

6. Run your own pace and own it. Don’t worry about how fast (or not fast) you are running. Your body will let you know when it’s ready to go faster, so listen to it. If you try to run too fast too soon, you may get injured.

Tia’s advice is great to get you going, and now we turn to Mary Atkinson, a registered dietitian, who is the director of wellness for Tucson Medical Center, for three quick reminders of healthy eating.

1. Eat more fruits and vegetables: Try eating eight servings of fruits and vegetables every day — you can think of a serving as a piece that fits in your palm. Also, try having at least three different colors of produce at each meal. For example, make a stir-fry with brown rice, broccoli, carrots, yellow zucchini and red peppers, top it with grilled chicken breast or salmon.

2. Eat breakfast: Breakfast helps to fuel our brains and improves our focus, as well as helps to eliminate that feeling of being starved by lunch. If you skip breakfast, try adding something quick like fresh fruit and nonfat Greek yogurt or a healthy homemade granola bar.

3. Think before you drink: Calorie intake from beverages has significantly increased in the past several decades, likely due to the size and variety of sodas, specialty  coffee beverages, and sports drinks. If drinking coffee and tea, skip all those fancy extras and limit your intake of coffee or caffeinated tea to two to three cups per day.  Excessive caffeine intake has been linked to reduced bone density.

Pretty simple, right? We’ll have more quick hitting tips in the weeks to come, but this is a good start to getting you out the door and on your way to a healthy day.

Randy Accetta co-founded the popular Meet Me at Maynards and the race director for the upcoming TMC Get Moving Tucson Half-Marathon and 5K. He is the national director of coaching education for the Road Runners Club of America and with his wife, Tia, coaches runners in Tucson at The Workout Group.