Smart tips for over-50 runners and walkers
Here are some helpful tips to prepare for a fun run, no matter your current fitness level.
Tips for beginner runners over 50:
- Have a complete physical: Schedule an appointment with your doctor before you start training so that you are aware of any health concerns such as signs of heart disease, diabetes, or orthopaedic limitations in order to work out the best steps forward.
- Gradually build yourself up: Pick a training plan that suits your current fitness and experience level. If you are new to running or it has been a while since you’ve been physically active, a walking program is a good place to start. Walking starts the basic conditioning process used for running but is gentler on the joints. As your fitness level increases, gradually start adding short intervals of running into your walking regime.
- Always warm-up and cool down: Many novice runners skip this step without realising how crucial it is for injury prevention and recovery as well as how much easier it makes each workout feel. As your age increases so does the length of your recommended warm-up and cool-down periods. Make sure to warmup and cool-down before and after every training session.
Tips for the experienced runners over 50:
- Change it up: Runners can greatly benefit from cross-training, particularly strength and flexibility training. Strength training can help counter muscle and bone loss, while stretching and yoga help maintain joint range of motion and balance, which becomes increasingly important after the age of 50. If you’re looking for additional cardio exercises to improve your endurance, swimming, pool running or cycling are great lower impact exercises to give your body a break from running and walking.
- Listen to your body: Pay attention to pain and fatigue. What you were able to do a few years ago may now leave you sore and exhausted, and that’s normal. The most common injuries for runners are overuse injuries. If you are feeling tired or sore take a day or two off. If you are experiencing pain or other symptoms, such as joint stiffness or muscle spasms, make sure to talk to your doctor. Listening to your body and adjusting your training program as needed is a crucial step in injury prevention.
- Adjust your goals: If you started running when you were younger, it may be difficult to accept that you’re slowing down with age. Stop comparing your current self to your younger self. Instead, try aiming for age graded results, which allow you to compare your race times to the standard for your age and gender. Adjust your expectations, set new goals, and be proud that you’re an active and dedicated runner.