Running after 50: I feel good (mostly)

I was reading last night about a guy who did a meditative chant to James Brown’s “I feel good” riff during his run.  That seemed to be an excellent mantra for a long run, good rhythm, good rhyme.

Last Saturday I ran 8.25 miles.  I managed to maintain a 10:30 mile all the way thru, which probably means my first miles were a lot better than my later miles–either that or my music selection has a 10:30 mile rhythm built in.  Could be.

I’ve been thinking–in an admittedly self-critical way–that lots of people would consider a 10:30 mile slow as molasses.  I’ve heard that from runners I’ve spoken to, and read it here and there.  One shouldn’t be satisfied with a 10:30 mile.  And yet I am.

Last summer, my best 5K was a 9.30 mile pace and I was pleased with that.  But I recognized that was a 5K.  Since January, I’ve been upping my miles so that a 5K is a quick-run day now, and I’m usually shooting for over 4, and on the weekends, over 6 or 7.  Ultimately, by the end of the month, I hope to be at 10 miles…though I’ll accept 9, and be doggone happy with 9.5.

Throughout this ramp up, my focus has not been speed.  It’s really not even been distance.  It’s been physical well-being.  See, I want to run for a very long time, if I’m lucky.  And the good news/bad news is I’m starting later in life.  Good news: I don’t have previous injuries to plague me.  Bad news: this isn’t exactly the peak physical condition I’ve known at other, younger, times in my life.  And straight-up news: you have to do things differently after 50.  You  just do.

You can’t get by without a stretching regimen.  Well, maybe you can, but you won’t be running for long–just my opinion.  You can’t get by on a cup of coffee and zoom out the door for a swift 8 miles.  And speed just isn’t going to be the top line concern.

So what is the top line concern?  Pure joy.  The satisfaction of giving your body the gift of health and good care.  The tending that pays off on those excellent days when you really feel it’s all coming together (today wasn’t one of those, by the way, but hey.).  What else is there, really?

It’s truly a meditative state, this care and feeding and stretching and reaching for something new.  It’s all mine–can’t buy it, can’t fake it–it’s utterly real and alive and in the moment.  Even if that moment is slower than molasses–it’s all mine.

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3 responses to “Running after 50: I feel good (mostly)

  1. Pingback: Running past 50: my nine mile adventure « What it’s like

  2. I’m 58, and I run quite a lot, although I go short distances (maybe three-quarters of a mile) as fast as I can go. I go a half-mile in about 2 minutes and 40 seconds. I do this about four times a week. This is fun, and I wish I could do it more often, but I have to allow my body to recouperate.
    A big deal with me is keeping my weight within five pounds of what it was when I was 20. Unfortunately, the only way I can do that is to eat about half as much food as I did when I was 20.

    • Howdy– thanks so much for your comment–it’s interesting and compelling. Running short distances full throttle is a great exercise and so good for you; I’ve never much been able to do much more than a few bursts during a longer run. Yeah, re food and such: diminishing returns, I guess, or something like that. I’ve found it’s super important to let your body recover, whatever approach you take. The body wants to run, but it also wants a little cooperation from the desire to run, eh? Thanks!

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