While some “concerned friends” may try to convince you that it’s not very clever to run many kilometers and marathons over the age of 50, it has been proven that running is a safe, healthy exercise for people of any age, whether you’re new to running (as it’s never too late to start) or a veteran runner!!!
The only thing that may get us a little worried is how are we going to perform entering a new age group (50+)!!
With running, as with all other sports, it is always prudent to take safe steps and respect your body and plan for the future…… by:
Adjusting your goals.
I know it is tough to admit that at some point (soon) you may start slowing down with age because the older we get we lose muscle strength and aerobic capacity. So, while you won’t be beating your PRs from your 20s and 30s, that doesn’t mean that you can’t set goals to help motivate you and give you a serious sense of accomplishment. Adjust your expectations, pick realistic goals, and be proud that you’re still being an active, committed runner.
Check with your doctor from time to time.
Once a year is good enough to get the “ol timer” checked properly!!! Only joking……….. but it’s still important to get the stamp of approval from your cardiologist once a year.
Take the proper time to recover between runs.
While you may have been able to run every day in your younger years, you’ll probably find that you don’t bounce back as quickly as you used to. While your legs may have felt fine the day after a hard workout or race in the past, now it may be several days before you’re feeling back to normal. Listen to your body and don’t force runs if you’re not feeling recovered. You may find that you feel better when you run every other day, as opposed to every day or six days a week. Days off from running don’t have to be complete rest days. You can do cross-training activities such as cycling, swimming, yoga, or any other activity that you enjoy.
Do regular strength training.
Strength-training is beneficial for runners of any age, but those benefits are even more significant for older runners. People naturally lose muscle mass as they age, but regular strength training can help you avoid the decline. Improved muscle strength means that your muscles absorb more of the impact while running, which eases the stress on your joints. Simple leg and core exercises such as squats, planks, push-ups, and lunges can make a big difference in your running performance and injury resistance.
Work on your balance and flexibility.
Improving your balance is not only helpful for running, but it’s also necessary for everyone as we age. If you have good balance, you’re less likely to fall and you can regain your balance more easily if you start to fall. You can work on improving your balance simply by standing on one leg (and alternating legs) for 30 seconds.
You may notice that your legs, back, hips, and shoulders feel stiffer now more often especially when you first wake up or have been sitting for a long period of time. Everyone’s muscles and tendons lose some elasticity with time. But you can maintain or even improve your flexibility if you work on doing stretching or yoga after runs!!
You also should make sure you do a proper warm-up before running, especially if you’re racing or doing a hard workout. Start with a 5-10-minute walk or easy jog, followed by some dynamic stretching.
Take injury prevention steps.
Be proactive in your approach to injuries and don’t ignore the warning signs of an injury. A great prevention step is to have regular massages …………and of course ……….more rest days.
If you do get injured, be patient!!!
As we get older, it does take longer to recover from injuries. Don’t rush back to running too quickly, as you may find yourself out for even longer than necessary.
Listen to your body and take the required break from running!!!