Tag Archives: running

Running Past 50…and without injury ;-)

Ida Keeling, 95 yo–Fastest running nonagenarian: kick it sista!

So, I’ve got another birthday coming next week which will officially make me an old lady…sorta. It’s all in one’s mind, right?  I’m going surfing for my birthday, so I’m guessing my mind is unawares of the milestone before me.

I got to thinking the other day during a quick morning run that I’ve been running now for about six years, steadily. Some days more, some days less.  Some days hills, some days flat waterfront.  All days involve an attuned awareness that I ain’t no spring chick, and if I want to run again tomorrow, I need to pay attention to my path today.  I’ve got a weird chronic thing with my feet, it’s not fasciitis, and as bad as it gets, it’s always back to normal the next day, but that’s about all.  So, pushing a little, paying attention, pacing…it’s works for me.

I don’t know many runners who haven’t had injuries of one kind or another.  I know a lot of runners that have stopped running because of injuries.  So, on the eve of another milestone,  I just want put it out there: First, do no harm and Second, live to run another day.  Anyone else out there balancing runs with the goal of running injury-free same time next year?  I’m sort of tempting fate by even writing this, and if I do injure myself, it will be an interesting path to deal and heal, yes?


Nice article on running, injuries, sport, and those funny shoes that look like lizard feet

Good article in the New Yorker that reviews the short, brilliant careers of a couple of marathoners, and the propensity for injury in the sport.  Born to Run is an easy read that skewers modern running shoe companies, and perhaps for very good reason.  Heel strike runners sustain more injuries than any other style…but as the article points out, the complexity of running, the way you hold your head, swing your arms, clench or relax your hands…on and on…all these things impact your body in a run.

Take a look at the Running Life blog post here, good quick read.

Running after 50: this is some crazy shit.

So, I’ve written before about my trials and tribulations with heel pain and such. I’ve written about the question of shoes, no shoes–Chi Running and the fantastic you’ve-got-to-read-this book Born to Run. I tried barefoot running and was amazed to feel the difference, it really grabbed my attention–but basically barefoot running is out of the question where I live.  It just didn’t seem a reasonable idea.

I have been struggling with heel lifts prescribed by a podiatrist, stretches, running shorter, running on soft ground…all kinds of things, with pretty underwhelming results. I was  And then a friend dropped by a month ago or so wearing what looked like old fashion tennis shoes.  Low heel, minimal support or construction–very simple.  I asked him about it and he said he loved them–wore them for traveling because they’re light and could run in them as well.

not the prettiest shoe, but simple, easy, lightweight, low impact

The simplicity of this shoe got me to thinking. And thinking about the premise of Born to Run–that our over-architected shoes are damaging our feet and making running a lot harder than it really is.   So, I researched the retro shoes that are coming back on the market and gave one pair a shot.  I ordered Asics Tigers and when I got them, I was dubious.

There was practically nothing to them–they were flimsy, lightweight, they almost felt too cheap–how could I run in these?  So I didn’t.  I just lived in them for a few days, and I have to say: my feet were happier than they’ve been in a long time.  So it was time to take them on the road…

I did short runs at first, and found that even though I felt a little vulnerable in them, I enjoyed my runs more.  I stayed with short runs for a couple of weeks–low hills, mostly flat, easy stuff.  And then last week, for some reason, I decided it was time to test these puppies out–I was feeling good in them.  My feet felt strong, balance was good, I felt light on my feet.  So I did one of my more ambitious routes, one I rarely do anymore but I like.  I ran for 45 minutes, doing hills and trails, and felt like I could have gone further.  A few days later, I ran for an hour and the next day, my feet, though tired, did not feel damaged.  In fact, considering the work out, I think they felt pretty good.

In the meantime, I heard McDougall on NPR talking about Born to Run.  At one point the interviewer asks: so really, what’s the secret.  Are shoes (or no shoes) that important?  Yes, he says, it’s not magic.  We really were born to run.  Our feet are amazing.  Our feet adjust to our needs, our over-architechted shoes are doing serious damage.  (check out his blog here)

I’ve never run an hour like this; I actually felt like I could have put in another chunk of time.  But the more I thought about it, the more it sort of made sense: I grew up wearing flip-flops.  I never wore these over-architected tennis shoes until I was in my 50’s.  I don’t have structural problems, my stride and strike are both neutral.  I have duck feet–meaning thin heel, big toe box–that do better when I’m striking on the ball rather than the heel…so, if the shoe is made to strike the heel, it’s going to hurt, right?  Right.

Well, the experiment continues…All I can say is that I’m amazed.  Running has taken on a whole new dimension for me.  Oh, and I forgot to mention–I wore my regular Adidas shoes the other day and could barely finish 20 minutes.  I had shooting pains in my heels and felt like I was running with big boxes on my feet–it was insane.  So, I’ll post again in a month and update with news.  Later gators.

Running past 50: Getting better all the time…

I’ve been in a running slump for most of the past three months, partly because I had a couple of bouts (or one long bout) of the flu which really kicked my butt, but also because the winter doldrums seemed extra hard this year, and I just lost steam.

Today, I noticed that I had some mojo back, enjoyed my run a little bit more, cranked my playlist up a little higher, felt generally a little better. I made a decision this morning to do mano-a-mano battle with the lethargy that has taken up residence in my body-mind….I’ll run 5, and if possible, 6 times a week, come hell or high water. No more discussion in my head–this deal is signed.

I’ve also had some unexpected aches and pains that I’m contending with, but I chalk it up to reduced time stretching. So more attention to stretching, especially hamstrings, glutes.  I want to get back into hills, and they seem to bother my glutes.

Finally, a reader wrote me a month or so ago, but I neglected to respond (more lethargy.  Did I mention long, dark winter?)

I am very interested in how anybody my age manages to keep running.  I love to run fast, but I have to do a lot of slow jogging to warm up.  I don’t just let ‘er rip, because if I did I really wound rip up a tendon.  This has happened to me before, and you don’t want a torn tendon.  Especially in your knee.
Exercise is fun.  Dieting (and I mean all the time) is not.  When I was 45, I had to admit that I needed to lose 30 pounds, and I went on a diet, which was basically, eat a lot less food.  I managed to lose about a pound a week for about six months or so, and then it took another six months or so to get my digestion back to normal.  After I did that, keeping the weight off was not too bad.  It was just a matter of refusing to get sucked into eating too much, as I had all my life before I went on a diet.
Most articles on running will tell you you won’t lose weight running, but I don’t think that’s true.  It’s not the fastest route to losing weight–just eating less is, as Ian notes. But as your body gets older, and life runs the risk of becoming more sedentary, running can help in a big way towards keeping some semblance of good metabolism going.  Especially longer runs.  They don’t have to be fast, but long slow runs are a great way to maintain overall health, mental and otherwise.

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!

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.

What’s not to love about this?

What would you give to have a more positive outlook in your day?  Or feel stronger, more confident in your body? How about sleeping better, getting sick less often, having better self-esteem?

Most of us, living in this the-answer-is-out-there-and-probably-comes-in-pill-form society of ours, will think, yeah–what are you selling?

Nada.  Nothing you can’t do yourself. We’ve collectively come to this place where fresh veggies and fruit taste “funny” and processed food tastes normal. Our energy isn’t great, our brains are functioning on less real nutrients, and then we wonder why we don’t feel so good.

Obama is gathering his forces to help make America healthier, and this effort, perhaps more than his other unbelievable number of efforts, has me swooning.  This article on CNN discusses his ideas, and of course finds a way to make the effort controversial (that’s what sells, after all), but the point of Obama’s agenda is this:

A healthy population is a happier, less expensive, stronger, more motivated population.  Period.

Happier: endorphins from exercise help modulate mood, we’re made this way. It’s the way our mechanisms work. Further, even if you don’t go out an run 3 miles, just stretching and walking helps your mood by connecting you with your body.  It’s natural, it’s how our bodies work.  Connection lost: balance lost.

Less expensive: as the article points out, chronic diseases such as adult onset diabetes account for 2 trillion bucks in health care.  That’s Two. Trillion. Bucks. Medical studies have long ago proven that better nutrition based of fresh veggies, fruit, fish, etc combined with moderate exercise can help manage a ton of chronic complaints.  Imagine tossing those pills you’re stuck on–it could happen.

Stronger, more motivated: you know the old saying, if you want something done, ask a busy person.  Once your body is accustomed to moving, whether that means taking the stairs instead of the elevator, doing yoga stretches in your cubicle, going for a walk at lunch instead of sitting around, or even getting up off the sofa to change the channel rather than using the remote, your old bod gets used to it and craves it.  Pretty soon you’re finding ways to keep moving no matter what, and guess what: your body works better that way.  It doesn’t work so very well if you’re always stationary.

Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now, but I just had to say, Mr. Obama, you are a dreamboat.

Running after 50: working within limits

Sure, I’d like to think I have no limits, it’s exhilarating. It reminds me of the Fool card in the tarot deck. Don’t get me wrong: the Fool is a good card. Mostly. It indicates the potential of doing things that are ill advised but coming out richer for it–richer in experience, knowledge, wisdom and sometimes just plain richer, you never know. So understand: the Fool is a good thing.

The Fool: it's a good thing with the potential for bad.

The Fool: it's a good thing with the potential for trouble.

See–the guy is just about to step off the cliff. Not so good, even the dog is yapping “Look where you step, you…Fool!” But the idea is no venture, no gain.

So, why do I bring this up? I’m not in a limitless place in my running. I made a decision a little while ago to postpone my half marathon plans for a while because stand-up paddle season is here, as is the annual garden-and-ibuprofin two month festival and what I’m finding is I just can’t cram it all in…my poor bod complains too mightily, especially these fasciitis prone feet. And as I’ve said before: I’m in this for the long haul, which means taking care now so I can keep running for a long time. Boring, I know.

But it’s pure math. Training for the half-m would take more than the 18 to 22 miles I run weekly now.  It would take recovery time between runs, if I do it right.  And it’s right in that space between runs where things get messed up.  If the weather is gorgeous, I’m going out on that board, come hell or high water.  And I’ve already experienced what happens when I board and run back to back.

A dear friend of mine was surprised to hear I had forestalled my half-m plans, and not happily so, I could tell. It made me feel a little bad for a while. Also, I just came out of a couple of weeks of feeling bad, post-decision. Turns out a lofty goal for a newbie runner such as a half-m offers is a very motivating thing–gives you this energized identity, this get-up-and-get-out-there motivation and conversation piece that builds energy at every turn. It’s a rush. Exhilarating.

Well, I’ve come out of that funk, and am enjoying my running as much as ever, if not more. The pressure is off, the funk is gone, it’s just me out there running, trying new routes, digging my tunes, loving the blustery weather–being a body in motion. The really great thing that the half-m push did was get me to 7 mile runs and beyond. I love and look forward to them on the weekend. Adding hills and new routes during the week keeps me working on my speed, the weekend runs keep my mind geared towards a longer run and all that it entails.

I still have it in the back of my mind to do a half-m next January or February, leaving me plenty of time for recovery before the paddle surfing season comes around.

Running after 50: couple of new insights

A couple of things have happened over the last few weeks of running.

  1. Having put distance aside, I find I’m running over 20 miles per week.  That’s what I was aiming for when I was focused on distance.  So apparently relaxing and enjoying running, while leaving time for recovery between runs, is working out even a little better than expected.
  2. Now, since I’m not pushing the mileage envelope so much, I find myself focusing on speed a little more and have seen some improvement on the shorter 3+ mile runs.  They’re fun and fast and having the end point so close at hand makes pushing my speed a natural next step.  Hooray for natural next steps.

Running is just so interesting and applies so well to so many other things.  An issue that has plagued me most of my life is understanding there are good days and bad days–seems silly right?  Yet I know I’m not alone in that.  You have a good day and everything is grand; then you have a bad day and you want to ditch it all for something easier that maybe feels better and isn’t so ego-bruising.

Because I basically love running, I’ve stayed with it and learned at last that it’s just the nature of things that there are good days and there are bad days, and sometimes you can trace the reasons–not taking in enough fluids, didn’t stretch, don’t feel well, whatever–but more often you can’t.

The other day I was doing desk work for about four hours solid–sitting still, focused, quiet.  Time came for my run, I got up, not feeling like running after being so sedentary, no energy…well, I did it anyway, stretched, laced up and headed out.  At about 1.25 miles, still grumbling in my mind, “why am I doing this, I don’t even like it, blah blah blah…” I suddenly realized, “Hey! Wait a minute, I feel good!  Actually, I feel great.”  It was the weirdest mind game I’ve witnessed in a while.  Upshot: I went on to have a fantastic run and came back completely energized and positive.

Two days later, the same routine: sedentary desk work, no energy…but I secretly figured, no problem: I’ll get into gear at mile 1.25.  But it didn’t happen, and in fact, the 5.4 mile run was a bit of a slog.

That’s just the way it is, that’s all.  And what I’ve learned is flat out the best lesson in the world: you just keep showing up anyway, and notice the change.  Show up and be present.  It’s always different.

Running past 50: altitude adjustment in Albuquerque

Surprisingly, Albuquerque has one of the highest elevation of metropolitan cities in the US. I thought Denver was higher, but turns out no, ABQ is about 200 feet higher or so, depending on where you are. During my recent visit there, I ran on trails along the Rio Grande and in Bear Canyon in the Sandia Mountains east of downtown.

Since I usually run between 15 and 200 feet above sea level here in West Seattle, I figured I’d be struggling in my runs down there. Last year when I ran there, I surely did struggle and didn’t end up running much at all. I felt it for sure: just couldn’t ever relax my breathing.

So, color me surprised on my first run, about 3.5 miles along the Rio Grande, a gorgeous day that allowed me to run in a sleeveless tank and shorts–listen, for someone living in Seattle, that’s a huge accomplishment during March. The truly remarkable thing was this: after the first mile, I felt fine–no, I felt great! I could feel the altitude some, but basically it just wasn’t an issue.

Bear Canyon ABQ, NM

Bear Canyon ABQ, NM

The next day I ran what could have been a grueling trail through a popular hiking section of the Sandia Mountains, Bear Canyon. I had low expectations of myself since that altitude was going to be a good bit higher, and the hiking trails include a lot of ups and some downs. Again, a gorgeous day, and while the first mile was a bit more of a struggle than usual, my breathing evened out nicely and I ran about 45 minutes no problem. Awesome!

On Sunday, I was down in the “lowlands” again along the Rio Grande, and this time I was a little tired, but I don’t run 3 days in a row anymore, so I chalked it up to that.

So I’ve been thinking about this experience and here’s what strikes me: you don’t often get such a great experiential measure of improvement like this. While I fret day to day over this and that with regard to my running–speed, distance, hills, stretching before and after, shoes, weather–this quick vacation to the sun allowed me to really experience just how much my running and physical strength have improved in the course of a year. I felt just great about this undeniable improvement–especially after my not so pleasurable recent 10 mile run the previous weekend.

It’s good to have a true milestone now and again–and my ABQ runs gave me that.

Running past 50: the tyranny of perfection

Halfway through my 10 mile run this past Saturday, the thought came to me: thank god. The tyranny of perfection is behind me.

I completed my 10 mile goal which I’d set back at the beginning of Feb, a little ahead of schedule but by necessity as this weekend was the window of opportunity. I was excited, especially after last Saturday’s 9.25 mile excellent, nay, perfect run. I talked myself down by reminding myself: it’s not likely to be that great every time, cool your jets, girlie.

But I had no idea it would be this bad.

Saturday offered up some pretty lousy weather, rain and wind, gray and cold. I can stand all of it, but wind is what I dread. I checked Intellicast for the wind report but no let-up was in the cards. I felt dreary about it all, suddenly. As the morning wore on, however, I gave myself a talking to…window of opportunity, the importance of setting and reaching a goal that’s all your own, how great I’d feel afterwards…

And I decided to just do it, come hell or high water. I felt excited again, could sense some adrenaline building as I filled my little water flasks, got dressed, stretched and did my core exercises. I checked my course one last time to make sure I knew where to turn around and then I headed out.

I drove to the starting point, hit the button on my running watch and headed out. At first, the weather felt a little balmy. I could imagine this turning out well, especially when I saw a broad rainbow across the ferry run between Bainbridge and downtown Seattle. But then, just as suddenly, the wind kicked up a bit. No problem, I can do this, I said. I rounded the corner at the lighthouse and headed for the long stretch along Alki Beach.

As I headed into my second mile, the wind was picking up a bit more but still not a problem. The sun had slipped away behind rolling billowing clouds. At the Duwamish Head, things got dicey. I was now leaning into the wind and I could feel my energy getting tapped way too soon.

As I headed into the fourth and fifth miles, I knew this was going to be very far from a perfect run. I had to take a brief walking breaks, long before the 60 minute mark, and though I tried to laugh it all off with the perspective of last week to this week’s very far from perfect run, I was feeling an extra pull on my energy.

No energy drain was going to keep me from attaining my goal, though, and that was that. I got to the five mile mark and turned around. At last the wind was at my back…for 1.25 miles. Again when I hit the Duwamish point, the wind had turned slightly and incredibly, I was running into it again.

I knew then that this was going to be a long slog because since it was a S-SW wind–I’d be heading into it from here on out. So I gave myself over to it, paced my walking breaks…and lowered my expectations. STill, though I wasn’t fast–11 minute miles–I did finish what I’d started, and that was what counted for me. I was sore and very tired by the end, depressingly so, since I was so excited to complete this project. But I finished, I hit 10.1 miles and had not one drop of energy left to do much of anything but drive home and do my yoga after-run stretches.

I now know what’s involved in ramping up distance, I know I can do it, and I know how to work with my body to avoid too much wear and tear. I’ll sign up for my first half-marathon soon–this after running my first 5K just last summer. I wish it had been a more uplifting 10 miles, but it was what it was. And after all, perfection really is a sort of tyranny, isn’t it?

Running past 50: my nine mile adventure

This past Saturday I had the most awesome run I’ve maybe ever had. What started out as a tentative run in potential snow and high winds turned into a fabulous, full hearted run in snow + rain + sleet + sun and hardly any wind to speak of. I’m writing this blog to once again sing the praises of Self Talk.

We all do self-talk. Sometimes we’re purposeful about it: before a big interview or a meeting, before a race, before a party if you’re shy. Whatever, we tell ourselves stories about ourselves and often, those stories turn out to be true. Imagine. Anyway, I got to thinking about my runs lately, how I’m upping the miles but not feeling so great and sometimes not enjoying them so much. I also got to thinking about my last post and the guy who has a running mantra tailored after James Brown’s song I feel Good.

And I decided: today I’m going to feel great throughout my run. I’m going to tell myself I feel great, and in fact, I will feel great. Guess what: it worked. I had some awesome tunes on, was totally in my body, and kept saying: I feel great–I’m so alive, and it’s awesome! I felt so fine throughout the run that I even managed to enjoy the scenery (something I miss when I’m focused on how much my feet hurt, or my legs or whatever), the raucous weather, all of it. And when I got to my turn-around point, I felt so good I just kept going. I ran 9.22 miles, and I was totally psyched by the end.

Psyched! Because my goal of 10 miles is well within reach next weekend. Because I felt pretty dang good after the run, aware that I was sore, but strong and happy and alive. Very much alive. And very lucky too–grateful, like you feel sometimes when your life has some grace to it.

So I say yeah. Try it out.

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.

Running past 50: considering Title IX

You go, girl!

Patsy Mink, Congresswoman from Hawaii, author of Title IX (my posthumous message to you: You go, girl!)

Recently I read a 2003 snippet by a running coach who was working with women over 50 and he mentioned, “remember, these women grew up in a pre-Title IX world.”

At the time of the article, I’d just turned 50. So, he was basically talking about me. For some reason, I was taken aback by the category: pre-Title IX.

Basically, for any woman under 40, Title IX is probably known more as a great clothing store for female athletes of every stripe, I love the store, though I can hardly afford it most of the time. The Real Title IX was a 1972 amendment to the Education Act and states simply:

“No person in the United States shall on the basis of sex, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

What that means in practical terms is this: prior to Title IX, women’s sports in public schools was neither a mandatory part of a girl’s education, nor was it funded. That meant you could, if you were lucky enough to go to a school that valued sports (I did), have and participate in swimming, tennis, softball, track, whatever…only if the school felt like offering it to girls.

A funny thing: my realization around Title IX and my generation comes at the same time that I’m beginning the series Mad Men–which takes place in my early youth, early 60’s. The sexism and lack of focus on health–physical and otherwise–is terribly familiar to me, and I’m happy to say I’ve forgotten most of it and think we live in a pretty good age right now. But growing up female in that world, well, funny looking fashion aside, it sort of sucked.

I’ve talked about the situation of girls growing up now with a few of my generationally-related business guy-friends–about how important it is for a girl to learn how to compete, to push her limits out, to stretch herself. To feel competent and able, confident and strong. A lot of these guys have daughters who are in college and their perspective is interesting: they love how strong their daughters are, they hike and run with them, they support them in a million ways and take great pride and pleasure in their accomplishments.

But they also, like I, grew up in a world that was anything but supportive of girls and physical accomplishment, and they likely never gave it another thought. Some thing are definitely getting better.

So here’s to Congresswoman Patsy Mink, (yet another brilliant and forceful legislator from the great state of Hawaii) who wrote the legislative under-pinnings of Title IX and fought so hard to bring it to life. It wasn’t easy, and when it was passed, it was still heavily criticized and disregarded. Were it not for a lot of women and young girls demanding their rights, it might have lingered for a long long time.

Running past 50: Chi Running update

Chi running is making an impact, I’ve been working on it for the past month and today accomplished a personal record: 6.6 miles @ 10:30 pace. we’ll see tomorrow if Chi running made as much difference as I hope, with regard to my heels. Yay!