Category Archives: running

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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Running past 50: still going….

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….

Yesterday I went for a quick run that ended up lasting an hour.  It’s not like I haven’t run for an hour before, but I’ve only run for an hour or more when I was trying to reach a goal.  Yesterday….ahh, yesterday I just kept running because it felt so damn good, because the day was brilliant bright and chilly, because within running distance of my house I have two parks with excellent running trails ready and waiting, because the music on my shuffle was superb….it just all came together for an awsome run that just kept on dishing up great views, good trails, and winter endorphins.

Towards the end of the run, as I headed down to the path along the waterfront, the view revealed itself: sun blazing, glinting on the water, the snow on the Olympics bright and beautiful, it all took my breath away to a degree I nearly started to cry–it was all so perfectly unexpected.

Now today I look out the window and see the sun starting to burn the fog off the Salish Sea and think: wow, it would be so cool to have that run again!

But it doesn’t work that way, and I know it.  Every time I’ve tried to recreate a particularly fabulous run, or surf experience, or dinner date, or just about anything that peaks in a surprisingly wonderful way, it backfires.  It just doesn’t work.  Who knows all the ways and reasons something comes together in every way now and then?

So, I’ll probably head out today, and will probably start on the same route, and will probably have a secret wish in the back of my head that today’s run will be as good as yesterday’s, but bottom line: just run.  That’s all.  And be grateful every step for good health and a lucky life.

Oh and one last thing: after several months working on my stride, following the tips in Born to Run, the last week I’ve really started to notice a change: I have long stretches of running like a kid, back straight with weight forward on the mid to upper part of my feet, arms loose and pumping.  And guess what, even after a long run, the next day my heels are not bothering me so much at all.

Also, I’ve let my tennis shoes break down and taken the little wedge out of the heel…this summer I practiced running barefoot, doing laps around the soccer field in the park.  I have to believe it’s working: the coordinating muscles in my feet are super strong, taking some of the stress off my heels!

Born to Run is on my top 10 list of books this year, for sure.

On the run: Chi Running?

Just as I’d made a new year’s res to do a 10K this year, along comes the idea to do a half-marathon Feb ’10. My friend Di (fam’s looking good, Di!) ups the ante on that idea and suggests one in Big Sur, CA this coming Nov. I protest, I dig in…and yet, somehow, I sort of agree.

My biggest concerns, other than somehow the pressure of training might make me fall head first OUT of love with running…were my heels and feet. I take such tender loving care of my heels and feet, as they hurt after long runs and require lots and lots of stretching and sometimes icing.

I thought: what on earth would they do after 13.1 miles?

At about the same time I’m mulling this thought over, I get my new book, Chi Running which I think is about the spiritual path of running but is instead about a new approach to the form of running based on T’ai Chi.

I’ve been reading it and here’s what I think initially: the promise is music to my ears (run injury-free!) and the book indulges in some pretty serious hard selling, all told. And I’ve now tried it two days in a row. I know I’m just learning, early days, novice and all but I can’t exactly say it’s a lot easier. It requires pretty different muscles and I can’t seem to get comfortable, though today was more comfy than yesterday.

On the other hand….my feet don’t hurt. No, they really don’t. In fact, they don’t feel like they’ve been running. Course, I’m not running full out, because I’m not comfortable running yet, and for some reason, though I don’t feel as tired, my legs feel not as strong as they were. And that tells me I’m either using different muscles or I’m doing it wrong or I’m in worse shape after the holidays than I thought.

But last week I ran 6 miles the old way and felt pretty strong. Today I just ran 5 miles and didn’t feel very strong…and I was running the new way.

Some observations: I’m probably not relaxed cuz I’m paying too close attention to what I’m doing; swinging my arms as suggested helps my forward motion but is more swing than I’m used to; focusing on the back kick is waaaay more than I’m used and requires something I don’t yet have nor know about. I’ve imagined myself standing on one foot while making dinner, holding my other foot up behind me to build the muscles it takes to get that high back kick.

But the lack of pain in my feet definitely has my attention, so I’ll keep at it.

More will be revealed.

Running after 50: what was I thinking?

Last Saturday I ran 6.8 miles.  This was after a 6.4 miles run 4 days earlier, and previous to that by a a few days, a 6.2 mile run–a big leap from previous average of 3-3.5 miles, which I’d been doing about a week prior.  What’s wrong with this picture?

Okay, so since late June, I’ve upped my 6x a week to  3-3.5 miles more or less.  That was up from 2-2.5 5 times a week, so that was already a step up in the distance department, and it’s also about 18-20 miles a week.

Suddenly, after reading the Murakami autobio on running, I sort of got it into my head that it would be cool to see if I could run 6 miles, like he did every day at the beginning of his book.  He’s 59, and his book is a sort of chronicle of thoughts on running, and the practice of running itself.  When he decided to do the NY marathon, he changed from 6 miles a day to 10 miles a day and more.

The ease of adding more miles was enticing to me: if 3 miles feels this good, imagine what 6 miles must feel like!

So I tried 6 miles.  I actually ran 6.2, my own private 10K and felt really excited to learn that 1) I’d lived to tell the tale, 2) I felt pretty okay, all things considered.  As noted above, a few days later I went further, and a few days after that, further still.  At the same time, I tried to keep up my regular runs.

This last run on Saturday, while easier in some ways than the previous one, was also harder in another way.  My body really hurt later, and I was really tired (imagine!).  That same night, my body was still feeling really strange–can’t quite describe, just uncomfortable–it felt like there was excess energy coursing through me at the same time that I was really tired.

The next day I did a little research online and discovered this amazing fact that seemed to be shared by most everyone: if you are training to increase your distance, do so by 10% of your previous weekly run, for two weeks or more if needed, and then again, 10% x 2 weeks.

What I had unwittingly done was increase my miles by 100% over the course of 3 weeks.  I’m lucky I didn’t do damage, although my chronically sore heels are little more chronic now.  I do long stretches of yoga and stuff after my runs, even short ones, so I think the tone of my muscles is pretty good.

So, I’ve asked the ego-and-excitement driven me to step back for a while and let the more practical driven me to take the reins for a while.  It’s not easy, surprisingly.  Today I ran 3.4 miles and it didn’t feel like enough.  I threw some hills in for good measure and last minute, even though I’d planned to limit myself to 3 miles only, I threw in a couple more paths through the park.  Just couldn’t go back feeling this un-exercised.

I’m sworn to start over now and do it better, since I’m also sworn to stay as healthy and injury free as long as possible and to keep running.  It’s all good.

Running after 50: Ch-ch-ch-changes…

Yesterday I ran 6.4 miles, a new distance for me. It’s a flat course, and beautiful–uplifting, so there’s a part of it that’s just awesome. But I was truly beat by the last mile, truly and completely. 6.4 miles is far for a bod that just last spring thought: I don’t think I’ll ever be able to run a 5k. Yesterday I ran my own private 10k.

One of the reasons I got hooked on running was to manage the enormous changes that my body and mind were experiencing as a 50+ year old woman. I know men go through a lot of changes after 50, too–I watch the commercials on TV, so I get it. But really, the whole repro-system de-activating itself is amazing and has lots and lots of ramifications. (And mind you, once things settle down, most everyone I know feels better than they’ve felt in years, so there’s that definite bennie.)

I’d read a few places that exercise would help with some of the more cumbersome changes, like metabolism and energy. So I joined the gym–and guess what. It helps A LOT

been counting sheep most of my life

been counting sheep most of my life

Most recently I’ve found that it’s helping with a problem I’ve had most of my life, but which is way worse after 50: sleep. Suddenly, the last coupla months, I’m sleeping the sleep of the dead. I’ve never, not ever, slept this deeply before and I love it–I feel like I could slurp it up like a good meal. I wake as if I had taken a long vacation–I can’t describe how delicious this feels.