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Start running despite your age!

Well, we all know that running is good. You don’t need expensive equipment, you can do it pretty well anywhere and it brings all sorts of benefits not only to our health but also to our mental state.

But when you are over 50 or 60, and when you have never really been a runner in your life, it is easy to think goodness, it is not for me; I am far too old to start. When you see the thousands queueing up to start the marathons, it makes the idea of running even more daunting. When everyone seems to be able to run a mile or more without effort, how embarrassing would it be to go anywhere to demonstrate that you can’t run more than a couple of hundred yards without getting out of breath!
Many people Laterlife has spoken to who have taken up running in retirement saying overcoming their initial embarrassment was the biggest hurdle of all.

But help is at hand. Thanks to our ageing population and a general increase in concern for our wellbeing as we age, more and more people are starting to run and at last people are beginning to take notice.

Running for Fitness for instance now has a whole page up on its website under the heading: How to start running as an older person..

I love the introduction - There is no such thing as someone who is too old to start running. Forget any embarrassment, you are not alone and more and more retired people are beginning to find running is a fabulous as well as healthy activity.

The website page gives some useful practical advice including having a check up with your doctor before you start; but some of its information is still a little off-putting; for instance..there is nothing to stop you from doing fast speed work on the track. What is that about, what track?!

The website Walk Jog Run has some more information for older runners, but scrolling down the page one gets the impression that by older runners they are talking about the over 30s. Again a tad off-putting.

When you take up running at our age, you have to accept that there will be a lot of gung ho super fit youngsters whose idea of going for a gentle jog is to power effortlessly up miles of steep gradients.

Perhaps more sympathetic information comes via the Huffington Post where there is the personal story of an over 50 year old who started running. She mentions ex Olympian Jeff Galloway’s Run Walk Run programme which evidently is used by hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

His idea is that speed is not a factor. Instead distance is the goal, achieved by slow, gentle running and regular walking breaks. This way you can slowly increase the running times as you improve and he states that this system is easy on the joints, still gives a high performance cardio work-out, and helps build muscle mass in the legs and hips which has many advantages and can even help in the battle against osteoporosis.

A good way to get started of course is on a running machine at your local gym, especially if you seek the help of one of the instructors to develop a gentle training programme for you. But it’s not as much fun as running outside and covering real distances, and mentally it is not as stimulating either.

Joining a local running club can be a way to find encouragement and support for those early runs (some even do pub runs, ending up in a good social event). Your local club can always be worth a call, explaining you are new to the activity; some clubs are for experienced runners only but increasingly more and more are very enthusiastic about welcoming beginners and some are now holding special events for older people wanting to start running in a friendly environment . The Haslemere Border Athletic Club for instance sounds incredibly frightening and professional; but actually they run a fabulous event every Wednesday lunch time; it is a fun and informal running group specially for the over 50s and is led by a UK Athletics licensed leader in running fitness, so your level of fitness (or lack of fitness!) will be well understood and catered for.

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