Tag Archives: winter 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?

 

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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.

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 after 50: what I learned in the Big Snow of ’08

Yes, you can run in snow and ice.  I’ve even read an article by a runner in Colorado who puts sheet metal 1/2″ screws in the soles of his running shoes to create “studded shoes” for ice running.  Yes, it can all be done and probably is done on a daily basis all over the frozen sections of the world.

And I learned some stuff in the Big Snow of Seattle ’08.

I learned that no sweat in sub-freezing temps is a very good thing.  Sweat will become icy almost immediately, and that’s bad for muscles (and generally the whole system, doh.)

I learned that shorter strides is a good thing, that planting your foot firmly and squarely will help keep you from sliding unexpectedly. Of course paying close attention is also a pretty good idea.

I learned that yes, you really can sort of “burn” your throat if you are mouth breathing and the temps are super chilly and you’re not accustomed to those temps.

And on a related note: I learned that running in freakin cold ass temps while still recovering from a cold is a really bad idea.  Short term, you’ll feel great to have those endorphins coursing through your bod, and maybe your bod will even like the whole thing for a while.  Maybe just keep your runs short, and day on/day off for a while.  It’s an idea.

Instead, I ran while still recovering and ran nearly every day after, or took long long brisk walk/runs.  Upshot: I got sick again, and the second bout was way worse than the first.   I’m taking the hint: you really do have to think differently about things when it’s frigid cold, snowy and icy outside.  A different strategy, some care to the old bod goes a long way towards keeping one healthy.

Today, after six days inside nursing my cold, I’m going to go for a shorty short run which will undoubtedly have me wheezing and coughing, but I feel pretty strong, have some good energy and have promised myself to take it easy out there.  It’s all good.