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There is a long history of people, many would call senior runners, continuing to run or starting to run through their 60s and into their 70s.
As we get older and maybe more reflective, with the realisation that the aging process is a reality, most people reach a conclusion that continuing or starting some simple exercise like running has many benefits.
Medical and sport scientists agree that entering the realms of being a ‘senior runner’ shouldn’t mean that the ambition to maintain or even improve fitness be curtailed in any way, in most cases, the opposite in fact.
People start running for several reasons: to improve all-round general health and fitness or being slightly overweight and wanting to shed a few pounds are two classic ones. Here in a nutshell are six excellent benefits for seniors:
If you are a total beginner or haven’t exercised for several years, it is good to give yourself a simple health check. If you have any underlying medical issues or a nagging injury, we would always suggest you have a chat with your local health centre or physio to ensure that running is not going to make anything worse. Then:
Not very fast to start with. Speed is definitely not the main focus in the beginning. It is much more important just to get into a routine.
No. Age is not a barrier, and should never be seen as a total limiting factor. As long as you follow all sensible advice, set realistic goals and are prepared to be patient, the benefits of running and exercise far outweigh any perceived issues. Any minor aches and pains in your mechanical frame are more than balanced out by maintaining a healthy heart and lungs, while helping to keep weight under control too.
There is no age limit to running. We each age differently, and some of us have to deal with different issues. To be able to continue running regularly in your seventies and enjoy it, you have to be realistic about your capacity. Your main aim should be to maintain a consistent routine, without getting too tired or getting injured.
“You’re getting too old to do this sort of thing” is often offered as well-meaning advice as we get older. While of course we have to respect age, as long as one has no major underlying health issues, it is certainly possible to keep running long distances. Not everyone will have the time or the motivation to run marathons or ultra marathons but taking even a cursory look at results for local Park Runs, 10ks and Half Marathons shows there are hundreds of runners in their 60s and 70s running these distances regularly, so why shouldn’t you? The age-old coaching principle of ‘too much, too soon’ as a potential recipe for disaster applies to any runner though, whatever their age.
An older runner is certainly capable of increasing their speed. There is some advice on this in our 5k Training Plan to Improve Speed. All beginners, especially older beginners just have to be careful to increase the volume of running slowly and also the pace of any speed sessions carefully.
At 60-plus very few people can just start churning out sub-7 or sub-6 minute miles anymore straight out the door. You're more like a car starting on a cold winter's morning and need a good warm-up to ease the joints and get the blood flowing well. Don’t fight it, its all part of the running experience. Just go with it and after a mile or so things ease up.
Simple mobility, stretching and strength exercises should be a part of any exercise routine, whatever your age. Check out any classes in your local Community Centre, gym or Sports Centre. Many run separate classes for over 50s and 60s to make them less intimidating. Also have a look at our video section, for stretching and mobility exercises you can do at home. You could try out some of the Resistance Band Workouts, for example, using the following:
If you have run regularly, it is futile to think you can run the same times as 20 years ago. Yes you may still have the enthusiasm of a 20-year-old, but the body just doesn’t agree! Treat each year as a new year. Wipe the slate clean and just set a few realistic goals for the year, happy you are still able to get out there. Those goals could be to just maintain as close to last year's times over 5k or 10k, or to run a certain number of miles each month. Never give up on your hopes, but treat it like a little amusing game, and be prepared to adapt if the body isn’t 100% willing.
Recovery time after exercise is more important with age. Ensure you balance your running with some quality rest, including getting the recommended 6-8 hours of sleep. The mantra of ‘hard day, then easy day’ or even ‘2 easy days’ is wise. All of our GPS watches accurately monitor your heart rate, to make sure you're not over-training. Here are some simple options:
Some days, for many reasons, running can just feel like hard work. Just know it's okay to walk little bits or just have a brisk power walk. Running as you get older shouldn’t be torture, but each time you go out should have some purpose.
However, if you do feel unwell or extremely tired just go for a walk or rest up till tomorrow.
Find out and read about the amazing exploits of other senior runners to help inspire you.
Some people are fine working out and sticking to a schedule themselves. Many people do find the benefits of running with other people occasionally or the support and camaraderie offered in a group setting.
A pair of good quality running shoes will keep your feet comfortable and make running more enjoyable. It's important not only that you find a good fit, but that the shoes give you the correct level of support. Your gait can change as you get older, so ideally come and visit us in-store for Natural Gait Analysis. If you can't make it in person, we can still offer good advice with our Online Gait Analysis service. Here are some examples of well cushioned road running shoes:
This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. The exercises in the videos are ones we've found very useful and want to share with our customers. But we're not certified instructors. Always consult your specialist before beginning any exercise programme. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate exercise prescription. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises or advice, stop and consult your healthcare provider.
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