For a middle-aged runner, especially one who may be new to the sport, running can seem quite daunting. Also, you may have heard naysayers mention that it is not good to pick up such a rigorous sport at an older age, such as at 40 or 50 years old and above. But this is not true. As long as you take the necessary precautions, you can, in fact, enjoy running at absolutely any age. In fact, Singapore’s oldest marathon runner, Chan Meng Hui, is 85 years old and he just completed his 100th Full Marathon race, at the end of last year.
Here are some running tips for older runners, especially those who may be relatively new to the sport.
1. Get clearance from the doctor
It is important to get the clean bill of health first, from a doctor, if you are an older person who is looking to take up endurance running as a way to stay fit and healthy. This applies regardless of whether you are a new runner or whether you have taken an extended break from the sport. The chances are high that the doctor will give you the approval, as long as you do not have any medical problems, but it is always better to get a check up first, before you begin running.
2. Adjust your running goals
If you used to do running when you were younger, do not expect the same timings that you were clocking previously. That’s because as a person ages, he or she will tend to use aerobic capacity and muscular strength. So it is wise to lower your expectations of yourself and set goals that are realistic to your current age group. For example, if you were able to run a 4-hour marathon when you were in the 20s, it may be wise to lower your expectation to about 5 to 6 hours to begin with if you are picking up running again, after a 10-year absence from the sport.
3. Take time to recover
If you used to run every day during your younger days, you cannot expect your body to cope with the same level of rigour as you age. So try and listen to your body and do not force it, if you are feeling the aches and pains from a particularly hard workout the previous day. Try and take a break from running if you need to, and engage in cross training activities instead such as swimming and cycling, if you want to get your heart rate up. Perhaps running every second day, with two days of cross training in between, may be a better regime for your ageing body – rather than running daily.
4. Do strength training
While strength training exercises involving push ups, pull ups, squats, lunges and planks will definitely benefit all runners, they are especially important for older runners. That’s because people will lose muscle mass as they age, and doing such activities will help to not only slow down the rate of decline, but will also improve your muscular strength. This will also ease the pressure being exerted on your joints and aid with your performance during running as well as resistance to injuries that may otherwise plague you.
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