Have you ever heard of Fauja Singh? You may not be familiar with the name, but you should be. He is the world’s oldest marathon runner, completing his last race at the age of 101. The most amazing thing about Singh, however, is that he didn’t start running until he was in his 80s. Still think you’re too old to start?
People of all ages are taking up running, and they’re doing it for differing reasons. Singh started as a way to overcome the depression that plagued him after the loss of his wife and son. Some older beginners are starting after they retire simply because they want to take up new hobbies. Not only is it great exercise but if you start up a running group, it helps older people remain socially active. Many do it simply because it is fun!
How to get moving in your Golden Years
Once you make the decision to take up running, you can’t just throw on a pair of jogging shoes and start pounding the pavement. There are a few steps you should take before you start on your route.
- Check with your doctor. Let your doctor know what you plan to do. Find out if there are any specific safety precautions you should take before you get going.
- Don’t rush it. If you haven’t exercised actively in a while, start out slowly. Walk your route for a few weeks before you add in short spans of jogging. Increase your running time gradually.
- Don’t skip the warm-up. Jumping out of bed to immediately hit the pavement is never a good idea. Make a careful warm-up part of your routine before you run, and cool-down and stretch after you complete your run.
- Slow and steady wins the race. Don’t forget your childhood lesson of the tortoise and the hare. You don’t have to literally run the whole route. If you employ the walk-and-run method, that’s fine. Using this approach may be easier on aging joints. Do what works for you.
- Look for a local running club. Being part of a group of others of a similar age gives you instant access to encouragement, advice, age-specific support and training information. The social element can keep you motivated, and it adds an element of camaraderie to your run.
- Enjoy rest days. A simple fact of life is that older bodies need more time to recover than younger ones. On your days off from running, do some stretching exercises or practice yoga.
- Don’t forget the tech. If you don’t already have a phone that lets you use apps, consider getting one. Or get a sports watch that will help you keep track of your time running and your distance covered. A smartphone will give you access to a multitude of apps that can help you track your progress and keep you motivated to up your game.
- Fight the risks with information. Running can present risks to older bodies, such as injury or heart attack (though not much higher risk than younger runners.) In most cases, the benefits will overshadow the risks. Regardless of your age, if you experience chest pain when running, stop immediately and seek medical help.
Age is no longer an excuse for doing nothing. Get up, get out and get running. Your body will thank you for it.