Earlier this week Facebook showed me one of their “Memories” posts, reminding me of a truly family-filled Mother’s Day 10K in Toronto 5 years ago, shared with my husband, 2 sons, 2 daughters-in-law, 1 brother, and 1 nephew. Pretty special. This FB memory happened to pop up as I was recovering from the 10K I had participated in the day before – Mother’s Day this year – as part of our local Fredericton Marathon Weekend. The only other family participation this time was my husband dropping me off and picking me up, but it was still lots of fun with lots of fellow participants. What a great way to start Mother’s Day, and what a spectacular spring day it was.
Thinking of the two Mother’s Day runs, 5 years apart, got me contemplating changes in the approaches to running in our household and in our family at large. The younger people, who actually do what most people would call running, are too busy with their work and family lives to take the time to run (even though it would help alleviate all that stress!). The older people, my husband and I (and to a much lesser extent my brother), have slowed down because of various body parts telling us that our past enthusiastic schedule doesn’t mesh with the recovery times necessary for these aging bodies. BUT, once you’ve got this message from your body, you can work with it. And, with that in mind, I’m here to preach for the advantages of taking up (semi-) long distance running as a retirement activity.
It is true that most people don’t think that running and aging go well together. But that is because most people think of running as going fast. Not true at all. First of all, most recreational runners these days are converts to interspersing running segments with walking segments, for many excellent reasons. And there’s nothing that says that your walking segments can’t be a lot longer than your running segments. Say, 5 minutes of walking, 30 seconds of running, repeat. That’s a good start. And, presto, you’re a runner! After that, who knows, perhaps you’ll feel like decreasing your walking segment slightly and increasing your running segment slightly. Etc. Gradualism in all things.
Advantages of running as an old(er) person:
- If you’ve never indulged in much athletic activity before now, you probably still have good knees. Huge advantage!
- Feeling your body be able to move like that, even for short periods of time, is life-affirming.
- If you motivate yourself by signing up for a local run/walk race, you will be joining a very welcoming community. Running communities celebrate all ages, all shapes and sizes, and all ability levels. And to prove it, every participant who crosses the finish line gets a medal. There’s no reason not to start your medal collection in your 60s; it worked for me! Everyone’s a winner in running.
- If you’re competitive by nature (which I’m not), then it’s your time to be competitive, because there’s hardly any competition in your age group! Case in point:
- 2018 10K F70-79 = 1 M70-79 = 4 Total participants = 554
- 2016 10K F70-79 = 1 M70-79 = 1 Total participants = 209
- 2013 10K F65-69 = 61 M70-74 = 42 Total participants = 21,858
- NYC Marathon F65-69 = 155 Total participants = 50, 641
- We oldsters have the wisdom, finally, to listen to our bodies. When there is a pain, we take a few rest days to give those pains time to subside. We truly understand that rest days really are an important part of training. We no longer push past injuries to our detriment, as we used to, and it helps us keep running. Not as fast, not as often, but we’re out there feeling alive.
Why don’t you give it a try?!