Tag Archives: women runners

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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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.

Runnus Interuptus

running yogini

Last summer we did a very ambitious overhaul of our garage and living spaces…re-org and clean out, renovation and remodel.  It was hugely successful and we so enjoy the many fruits of our many labors.  But….

The old bod took a beating in the process.  We had an improbable time-frame to deal with, and big big plans…I was so exhausted physically that running took a back seat.  Everything did, actually, at least for a while.

It took a long time to recover from that and some things–a weird ping in my shoulder, that little curve in my back never came back like it was–were just not right thereafter.

Recently I’ve had the insight to return to yoga…I used to be hard core about yoga until running slowly took precedence, finally beating it out entirely as my preferred activity.  Mistake, that.  I was so stiff after that summer project–and it just never seemed to get much better.

Running and yoga sometimes don’t work  so well together.  Sometimes those muscles you’re stretching like so much warm taffy actually work better when they’re a little less flexible, or little more taut. But I felt like the magic of yoga was likely going to be the only thing to get me back in my body, so I began practicing daily. It felt so good, it hurt like hell.  At the same time I’ve cut down my runs to about 25 minutes–good little runs, some hills, interesting paths–but not too strenuous.

When I get back, I do 25 to 50 minutes of yoga to follow on the run.  It’s working–that’s the big news.  I’m actually starting to feel right in my body again, and am going to continue this approach for a month.  I don’t run every day, usually every other day, but I do do yoga everyday.

It’s good.  Sometimes the same old routine just doesn’t cut it, and you need to reboot, as it were.  I’ll be back to my old running routine by Spring, I think,  but in the meantime, yoga is working its magic.

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 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 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 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.