Running past 50: 3 great points

I received a comment the other day (from Reva) on a Running past 50 post I wrote a while back, and really appreciated it so thought I’d share it with you all:

I am a 57 year old female and have been running, on the treadmill for about 9 months. The last time I ran seriously was in high school, many moons ago. I began running because of health related issues: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, over-weight not wanting to be medicated the rest of my life. Plus I wanted to live to dance at my grandson’s weddings.
I run on the average of 2-3 miles at least 5 days a week, and guess what? I am beginning to find myself addicted to running. One of my solstice goals this year is to run a half marathon. I’m on the verge of believing I can do it. Recently I have begun running on the treadmill barefoot and found my endurance improve and I do not need to hold onto the sides of the treadmill, not once. Within the next few weeks I will be taking a step outdoors and try trail running with my son. (I am blessed to have 40 acres behind my property that is wild) I am looking forward to more adventure, and better scenery than stored boxes in the garage.
I have also found that doing a little yoga, sun salutations, help in the ache department. One thing I have noticed since I started running is my hips do not hurt half as much, in fact I have stopped taking the ibuprofen. Part of the running barefoot is to see if I can eliminate the pain by ibuprofen on the balls of my feet instead of the heels. It’s working. I’m glad to hear others in my age category are learning to enjoy the movement of our bodies in the form of running. Thanks for a great blog.
You go, girl!  I thought of you yesterday during my run and your goal of a half-M actually inspired a little spurt of energy in me, thanks!  I tend to think of Jan/Feb as the “slack tide” time of year–that in-between period, not the bluster and blow of Autumn, not the urgent push of Spring, just a
quiet time; drawing some energy from Reva’s goal was a good thing.
There were three things about this comment that I found of real interest:
  1. Take back your power: sometimes this notion gets a little overblown and we think it needs to mean something huge.  Not so.  In this case, the 57 yo woman looked at the trends in her life–high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a little more weight than she wanted–and she decided to make some changes.  That’s it right there: take an inventory and adjust as needed.  That’s how you take your power back, and it’s enlivening, and it’s difficult, and it’s one of the few things worth doing on a continual basis.  Whether it’s running, or acting on that impulse to dance or learn to cook or take up photography, or even just change how you get to work, really, these things light up your brain.
  2. Start small and build from there: seems to me the best way to guarantee you won’t go as far as you can is to go too fast too soon. You’ll likely hurt yourself, set the bar too high and disappoint yourself, judge yourself too harshly…the list goes on.  A better path would be one where you set out to explore, just investigate what this running is all about.  Keep it short and simple, be aware, enjoy yourself and let your body do the rest. After all, this is a new thing for the old bod to adjust to–give it time, and it will not disappoint.
  3. Partner with your body: Reva has done several things of real interest in her exploration of running.  She’s kicked off her shoes and run barefoot!  She’s incorporating yoga, she’s moving from the treadmill to trails (huge difference!), she’s paying close attention to how her body responds.  Personally, I’d love to know how she came to the barefoot idea as I worked with that this summer and have found significant benefits to running barefoot, as well as letting my tennis shoes break down and the muscles in my feet build up.  But the point is: work with your body.  Those articles in Runner’s World mag, everything they tell you at the local running store, the stuff you find in blogs and whatever—all good and well, but bottom line, experiment and investigate with your own body–you’ll know soon enough what works, what doesn’t, what’s worth short-term discomfort for long-term gain, etc.
This past year marks my second year of running consistently outside; I didn’t realize that until I read my journal summary of 2008–when I quit the gym treadmill for streets, parks, trails, sidewalks. This past year also marks some significant changes in how I run and think about running:
  • it’s now an embedded part of my life.  Some days I resist it, most days it’s a high point of the day.
  • I believe as the title of the book suggests that we really are Born to Run.
  • Hills are where it’s at.  That surprises and pleases me since I live in a very hilly part of town, and I previously shunned them for an easier flat run.
  • Since hills are where it’s at, I also tend to take walk breaks–very short, but still…I used to judge myself about that, but now I just enjoy the hills and take a breather as needed.
  • I run a little slower, but I run a lot longer.  My body seems to like this a lot.

I’ve received a number of comments from women who are taking up running later in life and want to say: Thanks!  I love hearing about your adventures, tips and tricks.  Happy New Year and see you out on the trails!

Happy New Year!

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7 responses to “Running past 50: 3 great points

  1. Thank you for responding to my post. My decision to start running at such a late age was all about taking back my power. When the cardiologist told me “just take your medicines and be quite” I did what I had been preaching to my kids forever, I began to question authority. It was the acceptance of someone else’s power over me that had got me into this bodily mess and it was taking back that power that was going to get me out of it. I began to look around for a doctor who would work with me without the meds and found a delightful naturopath. Together we found the right combinations of treatment and life style choices that brought the numbers down. But in the end it was, and is, a hell of a lot of work on my part. As for what is taking me down the path of barefoot running I have to say it was the book Born to Run. This is a book that speaks to the soul on so many levels; it is about more than just running. It is all about taking back your power and not taking no for an answer. I loved this book and can not recommend it enough to anyone who needs a boost of cheering on the human level. Today I leave my treadmill and go for my first run outdoors, even in the rain. Here in the northwest you know your alive when rain becomes your running partner.

  2. Reva, you are totally awesome. It seems we’ve taken similar paths around the issue of medication-laden “treatments.” I just say no, and have found myself to be more right than wrong. The body wants to be healthy; if you partner with it, it will respond in kind.
    Thanks again and I hope your run today is most excellent!

  3. The run was positive. A bit different than running on the treadmill. I don’t think I am ready for trail running yet. When I run on the treadmill I find I can get a more controlled run, boring but more beneficial. My husband has taken to running on the treadmill also, a miracle in its self. In his younger days he was a runner but gave it up due to a knee injury. Life got away from him and now he wants to revisit the energy of running. With all of our kids out of the house we are looking for things we both have interest in, I think running might be it. We are even planning some challenging hikes when the weather clears. We tried running around the high school track, and found it boring. I know I do not like the track running because it was a little harder on my body than anything else so far. I did finish the last half mile by running on the grassy area next to the track, this was much better. I have talked with a group of young moms who run and in the spring they will be attempting to run in the park barefoot. I hope to be at a level to try it out. I am preparing my feet by going barefoot around the house as often as possible. I am not so afraid of the rocks and twigs out there as I am about what our four legged friends leave behind. I will just have to be vigilant on my barefoot runs.

    • Great to hear your update, Reva–I don’t do much track running myself, maybe a couple times a year when the ground is soaked with rain or is icy. Treadmill is definitely easier on the bod, roger that! I think a regular course of running is rewarding, if only in terms of enabling lots of other activities like hiking, and also increased energy.

      Born to Run also mentions allowing your running shoes to wear down, so that the built-up heel area is not so great and the other muscles in your feet are allowed to develop–something along the lines of running barefoot but without the agreed issue of unwanted *debris* from dogs and such. My shoes are pretty aged by now and I’m finding them to work well in protecting my feet but not impeding muscle development.

      Great to hear you and your husband are getting into this whole thing together–how fabulous!

  4. Great to hear your update, Reva–I don’t do much track running myself, maybe a couple times a year when the ground is soaked with rain or is icy. Treadmill is definitely easier on the bod, roger that! I think a regular course of running is rewarding, if only in terms of enabling lots of other activities like hiking, and also increased energy.
    Born to Run also mentions allowing your running shoes to wear down, so that the built-up heel area is not so great and the other muscles in your feet are allowed to develop–something along the lines of running barefoot but without the agreed issue of unwanted *debris* from dogs and such. My shoes are pretty aged by now and I’m finding them to work well in protecting my feet but not impeding muscle development.
    Great to hear you and your husband are getting into this whole thing together–how fabulous!

  5. Today I finally broke the 12 minute mile. Many people can walk that fast; for me this is an accomplishment. I did 3 miles in 36 minutes, which included my warm up and cool down, plus it included hills. I am elated. I am now running with a smile and finding it enjoyable instead of a chore. Running has become such an important part of my day that when I considered applying for a job I had to figure out how I would work running into my new schedule. For anyone over 50 who wants to make changes in their lives but think they are too old or their body is not capable of handling the change, I am here to tell them “yes they can, it is doable.” One small positive change and life blooms.

    • Whoa–you should be righteously fist-bumping over this milestone, Reva. I remember when I broke the 12 minute mile–not on a treadmill, but outside, with hills and stuff. I was totally proud of myself…and I tweeted about it, and later some guy let me know that the time I was crowing about wasn’t so hot. Bummed me out, I’m telling you.
      What I thought then and what I think now: You are awesome, that 12 minute barrier, with hills and warm-up/cool-down is HUGE and you know it.
      And you are so spot on: if you’re willing to work with your body, hang in there and have compassion and patience, you can start running any time. And your bod will thank you many, many times over and in many ways.
      I’m in a little slump right now, which has happened before and will happen again, and your comment and joy, Reva, helped me today–I almost felt like myself. I’m on my way, one hill at a time.

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