Beginners Fitness Tips by Coach Matthew Deja

Beginners Fitness Tips by Coach Matthew Deja: San Diego Track Club

During my 15 years of coaching many people have approached me who are taking up the sport of running for the first time. Here are a few tips to follow as you begin and continue with the lifelong activity of running:

  1. Do not deprive your body of nutrients.  Refuel the machine and eat consistently throughout the day.  Target 3 meals and 3 small snacks. Eat something every 2 to 3 hours to keep your metabolism going.
  2. Strengthen your legs and feet by performing heel raises (calf raises) 4-5 times per week.  Calf raises increase stabilization of the ankles and feet, prevent calf pulls/strains, increase power output, reduce risk of injury, and improve aesthetics.  Who doesn’t like big calf muscles?
  3. There are many ways to tie your running shoes.  Find the knot that is best suited for your stride pattern and foot type.  Whatever knot you choose make sure your heel is locked in and that the laces are tight.
  4. Take care of your feet! Clip your toenails to prevent bruising. Roll your foot on a hard ball (lacrosse ball) daily to prevent plantar fascia.  Soak your feet in cold water after hard workouts and long runs, and don’t wear shoes that aggravate/hurt your feet-i.e. flip flops, very high heels, old dress shoes.
  5. Get a coach or join a club of experienced runners! If you’re not sure what you should be doing in training, have trouble getting out the door on a consistent basis, are getting stale in your workouts, constantly staving off injuries, plateauing in your performances, or just generally not having fun with your training, it might be a great opportunity to partner with someone to help you stay focused and get to the line injury free.

Finally, believe in yourself!  Before you can improve your fitness, you must be open to change and you have to have confidence.


Coach Matthew Deja joined the San Diego Track Club as an Assistant Coach in January of 2016.   As a Coach Matthew’s aspiration is to be fully engaged with athletes to help them achieve their goals, stay healthy, develop their character, and overcome adversity. Matthew coaches the San Diego Track Club’s Next Level Training and Half Marathon programs that are part of the 2018 Rockin’ N Runnin’ Full and Half Marathon Training Program. He is a USATF Level 1 Certified Coach who has a multifaceted background with running as a Collegiate Athlete, Track & Field Official, Coach, Running Specialty Retailer, and Race Director.  As a Collegiate, Matthew set 5 school records for the Scots.  Matthew started his post collegiate journey running for Playmakers Elite and continues to compete in Invitational 5ks and Road Miles all throughout the US.

Matthew has developed lifting, nutrition, and training programs tailored to athletes of all ages, abilities, and events ranging from the 55-meter dash to Iron-man triathlons.  He has worked with Olympians, NCAA Champions, All Americans, State Champions, Olympic/ US trials qualifiers, and Ironman World championship qualifiers.