Tag Archives: women in sports

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: 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.