I read the book “Younger Next Year for Women” last year and it made sense to me. Their prescription of eating wisely and having good relationships are not much of a change for me. But, exercising an hour a day for the rest of my life, if I want to stay fit and active into my 80’s, is more of a challenge.
I have always been athletic and I enjoy fitness classes and can make myself spend time on an elliptical machine if I have a good book to distract me. That is not really enough if I want to really be fit. And I do want to be really fit, not just sort of fit.
Running, I decided, at age 63-and-a-half, is what I will do.
And, so, I do. Run. Regularly (not daily). (And not all that fast.)
I throw in some mixed yoga/pilates/taichi classes in and have discovered cycling
classes on bad weather or very cold days, but, running is what I am trying to learn to like to do. It’s cheap (good shoes are not expensive compared to buying gear for some others exercise options), it fits in our environment (no mountains or lakes nearby), and there is no real reason that I shouldn’t or can’t run.
All I had to do is to change my thinking from “I hate running” to “I am thankful I can run and it will help me stay fit and active into my 80’s if I do it regularly” and I was on my way.
It is a challenge, though. I have to constantly remind myself that I want to run. Progress is slow. I keep track of my runs so I know that my progress is slow. It can be boring, since I think I should not have earphones on.
But, I am sticking with it.
Here are 5 things that I am learning about sticking with running as an “older” runner:
1. Competition should not be your primary motivation.
I do think that if I keep running, there will be a time that I will be able to earn a medal in some race somewhere (as in, if I keep running long enough, there will be no one else in my age group), but at this point, my speed and endurance are not impressive…especially compared to others who have been running longer.I have to focus on my reason for running…to stay fit and active into my 80’s (and beyond)and forget competing.
2. Don’t listen to 20- or 30-somethings who give you advice about running.
When I was first starting, I tried to find sympathy about the challenges of being a novice runner. “Just add a quarter mile every week and you’ll be fine.” “Run sprints once a week.” “You’ll see progress fast if you stick with it.” I soon realized these young whipper snappers, though well-meaning, have no idea what I am facing (and is before them).
3. Find a route that is at least somewhat pleasant that gives you options.
I have a route in my neighborhood that I can make 1.8 miles, 2.3 miles, or 3 miles. There are some days that the long route feels good and I am willing to make time for it. There are other days that I know I have to get out of the house and a shorter one is the one that I will do. It makes it easier to get out and do something if I know where/what I am going to do. Going to the track and running laps is not very pleasant, I think.
4. Invest in a pair of good running shoes, bought from a running store.
Purchasing running shoes on your own when you are starting to run is crazy (in my opinion), especially when you are older. There are so many versions, it is extremely helpful to go to a place where they can analyze your gait, measure you correctly, and find the best features for your feet. They often will have “last year’s model” in the back for a discounted price, so ask. They also might be able to order in a different color if you object to the one they have available in your size (I didn’t realize I am picky about color of running shoes, but…)
5. Find a good massage therapist.
I used to think that getting a massage was a luxury. It is now a legitimate, occasional need. I have found a woman who really knows her stuff. Her massages are not what I would call relaxing, but they put me back together and make some hip and back discomfort disappear. She also has helped me understand that always running on the same side of the road that is sloped is probably going to result in some need to see her.
I am sure that as I go on, I will continue to learn. The other day, I used my running time to compose a keynote address in my head and I took 3 minutes off my 3-mile run! My runner-husband has been telling me that “it is all in my head” and that I can do more. I see what he means, now. When I wasn’t thinking about how much I am not enjoying running or how tired my legs feel, I ran further and faster, with no ill effects.
I am not ready to enter any races. I am concerned that if I perform poorly (according to my standards), I will be discouraged. I am wired to be competitive and right now, I am simply competing against my own natural aging process.
Medals and ribbons are not the goal.
Being fit and active into my 80’s (and beyond) is the goal.
What do you want in your thirdthird?