Don’t Let Age Get in the Way of Running
Whenever I talk to people about running, they are surprised to hear when I started. I didn’t begin my journey until I was 36 years old and moved to a new city. I hadn’t run since high school gym class and I hated every minute of that. For some reason, moving to Austin triggered an interest to get active. I believe it had something to do with the amazing food and beer. Oh and being able to run all year round helped too. Those were just a couple of my reasons though and you are sure to have your own. I talk to a number of people who simply always wanted to do it – a bucket list item to run a marathon maybe.
No matter what your reason for thinking about starting to run is, just believe that you can do it. The obvious disclaimer is to make sure that you are healthy enough to run and that might include having a discussion with your doctor. Other than being told that you shouldn’t for some medical reason, there is no reason not to. Here are some simple tips from when I started to help you get out there.
- Start small with reasonable goals. Most people will not start out being able to run a 5k. When I started, I think I ran about a half mile before I needed a break. It was a big mental hurdle to overcome since it seemed like running 3 miles would be nearly impossible. My advice is to set goals to increase your running distances week by week. Push yourself to go an extra block or two. Don’t expect miracles right away but make sure you are continuing to improve.
- Walking is normal. Building on the first tip, mixing in walking with running is perfectly normal. You need to control your heart rate and walking will help bring it down so that you can get another running segment in. It is easy to look at walking as a negative but you can use it as a tool to reach your goals. Eventually, you won’t need to walk at all for the shorter runs.
- Find the right running shoes. My wife taught me this lesson early. There are a ton of running shoes out there and there is a reason for it. Your foot is not necessarily like your friend’s. Their style shoe may not give you the support you need. The best way to figure out something that works for you is to ask a seasoned runner or to visit a local store. Warning – some running shoes can be quite expensive. Try to buy the previous year’s version when they go on sale instead of the latest and greatest version.
- Consider a smartwatch with heart rate monitor. Linking back to your goals, using a smartwatch with a heart rate monitor can really give you the information you need to get better. A smartphone can also work but they can be bulky and annoying to carry with you – plus they won’t have the heart rate monitoring for you. I started with a Garmin Forerunner 235 and am still using it every day.
- Find a group (or friends) to run with. Some people like to run alone but the running community is strong. Reach out to friends on social media to find other runners or use any number of apps/sites to find a group. Some simple examples to find runners are MeetUp, Strava, Facebook Groups, and your local running stores. Look around and you will be sure to find a bunch of people that would be excited to run with you.
- Sign up for a race for accountability. If you plan to be competitive, find and register for your first race to be a big motivator. It will give you a very tangible timeline to get better at your running and set a benchmark for improvement. Being a runner does not mean you have to race but you will certainly be capable of joining in if you change your mind.