Some individuals in their fifties and above may be hesitant to start running due to the risk of injury that could result on their body -specifically the joints. This was a concern myself when I first started at the age of 50. Additionally, the lack of active exercise and not knowing how to go about it, is a challenge for most beginners early on.
Running in your 50s – It’s never too late!
In this day and age, numerous health and fitness resources are accessible online to anyone with just about anything, including the different running programs. But selecting the best method to use that suits you can be overwhelming.
Truth of the matter is, age is just a number, and it is important to know that it is never too late to start something on improving our health and fitness. Knowing how to go about it and with determination, it can be done. You will soon see a healthier and happier YOU! There’s a saying which I love that states – Aging is just a state of mind!
I will be walking you through with some basic guidelines and techniques, with emphasis how to start properly which worked well for me personally. These I learned through experience from my previous team coaches, and participating in numerous races of different distances ranging from 5K to full marathons over the years.
How to ease into the sport properly
As with other sports activity, running will certainly feel challenging in the beginning. It is not a natural thing or movement we do every day.
Two months before I officially started training with the team for my first Half Marathon – it was my very first race, I initially used a beginner’s run/walk schedule I printed from an online source. The goal was to gradually build my endurance, only to find myself frustrated by the second week.
I did follow the schedule to the ‘T”, however, I failed to read the basics, – the ‘How To’s for beginners. Somewhat similar to assembling a piece of furniture and not reading the instruction manual. In reading and following the basics, and of course with perseverance, I started seeing some progress towards the end of third week.
It is best to start slow and being mindful of the process. Listen to your body as the run time increases, you will know what is comfortable to you. Otherwise, stay with the same schedule until you are ready move forward. Patience is the key!
We are all built uniquely, so our bodies respond differently to these changes, especially the increase in run time. For some beginners it could take two weeks to achieve longer running time, others may take as long as three to four weeks. Run or walk at your own pace!
Running Tips for Beginners – The Basics!
- Schedule an appointment with your physician. Consulting with your physician is strongly recommended before starting anything that is strenuous. It is important to determine our current health status. Discuss your plan of starting a running activity, if you haven’t already and look to see if there are any health concerns you need to be aware of.
- Invest in a good quality pair of running shoes. Visit your local running store. These specialty stores have knowledgeable staff in the sport, who can evaluate your feet and gait analysis. They will be able to determine the type of shoes you need based upon your stride and gait. In doing so, you will avoid injury and make the most out of your run.
- Choose a run/walk schedule. An ideal schedule for beginners and runners at age or over 50, is starting slowly embracing the ‘run/walk method’. This helps build your endurance without putting strain on your body. As an example, you start a short run and walk segments at a 1:2 ratio on the first week. This is simply done by running 1 minute, then walk 2 minutes and repeating it for 30 minutes. Taking walk breaks is crucial if you feel out of breath. You may modify this method to adjust to your comfort level. In the next few posts, I will share the run/walk schedule I used in the past.
- Decide a safe place to run/walk. Map out your route. Best place to start is right in your neighborhood or nearby school track – places you are familiar with. When you’re comfortable increasing your running time, look into your local park and trails listing. Better yet, encourage a friend to be your running partner. Another avenue is to search for running groups in your local community that you can join. Most of these groups are membership free.
Before and After – Important Basic Steps
- Warm Up (Before) – Walking before starting for 5 minutes at an easy pace is important to prepare your body to increase circulation and begin the conditioning process to working muscles gently.
- Cool Down (After) – Always end with a walking segment to cool down for at least 5 minutes at an easy pace. This helps your body to adjust gradually from active state back to a relaxed or resting state.
- Stretching (After) – Once your body returns to a resting state, always end with stretching. Holding the stretch for at least 30 seconds for each muscle group is best, but do what is most comfortable to you. Our joints are much warmer and lubricated after workouts, so as our muscles (a mentor used to refer to it as big muscles 🙂 ). Stretching after running is often skipped, which in fact is one of the most critical steps to keep in mind.
These are activities that does not involve walking or running. Yoga, swimming, elliptical trainer (my favorite), pilates, stairmaster and spinning are great cross training workout. If you are new to this active lifestyle, it’s not recommended to start cross-training until the 4th week or 5th week.
Cross-training targets muscle groups that we normally would not use while running/walking. This helps reduce the risk of injury, burnout and greatly helps speed recovery.
Track Your Progress
Tracking our progress gives us a sense of direction in such a way helps us make adjustments if necessary moving forward. A simple log of your daily activity will suffice.
There are activity tracking apps these days that are available to download to your smartphone -some can be downloaded for free. These apps comes with array of great features from total number of steps taken tracking in a given day, to total hours of sleep, just to name a few.
Set Goals. Write it down
While starting something new may seem overwhelming, always focus in keeping it simple. Follow the basics! However you approach your new fitness goal, know that it is possible. Set your personal goals and write it down. I find keeping my goals in front of me has been my key motivator daily. Keep it fun, listen to your body and have fun!
Be proud of this HUGE step you are taking! This is an accomplishment already!!!
One of my favorite quotes which I always refer to by Dr.Maxwell Maltz in his book Psycho-Cybernetics states, “It takes 21 days to form a new habit”. Give it a try, perhaps do a ‘self-challenge’ for 21 days. It doesn’t necessarily be running-related.
This actually surprised me when I first set a goal to start reading a book daily years ago for at least 30 minutes. If you skip a day or two, it’s completely okay to do it all over again!
I found running after 50 is a beautiful thing! Running in general changes people’s lives!
Please leave any comments or questions below. I look forward to hearing from you!
Happy Running! 🙂
I am not a licensed medical professional. All views expressed on this website are based on my own personal research and experiences.