When I was a child it seemed as if I could run all day long. I loved to pretend I was a horse running free on the prairie, or a fairy princess floating through a forest of mystery. My body seemed to move without effort or discomfort. I was one of the fastest at chasing games. Then I grew up. What a dirty trick!
It is a trade off, this getting older. you can’t run as quickly or effortlessly as when you were a child. You have more aches and pains after a few miles of running. You take longer to warm up the stiffer joints. However it is not all bad! You can go long and slow, enjoying the scenery, the sounds, the feel of working up a sweat. You can enjoy the other runners in a race, taking the time to get to know them, sharing the marvel of being outside doing something fun. You learn to listen to your body when it says to slow down or get a drink. And the times of the other racers in your age bracket are going to be slower, too.
It is an amazing thing when you grow older and begin to run. You must start slowly and gently, respecting your body and it’s limitations. Bring the wisdom of your lifetime with you and don’t be afraid to experience some discomfort doing a thing harder than you expected. Just don’t be afraid or discouraged by the effort. Always check with your doctor first, and if they give their okay begin with short distances first. If you haven’t been active at all, then begin walking first! Start with 20 minutes and gradually over the first two weeks add 5 minutes every other day until you can stay actively moving 45 minutes.
If you are transitioning from walking to running, then begin by walking 5 minutes to warm up. After you have warmed up alternate 2 minutes walking with 30 seconds of running. Gradually increase the intervals of running until you are able to run 5 minutes with a 30 second walk break. Eventually work up to 10 minutes running with 30 second walk break. Then try adding time until you are running 15 minutes with a 30 second walk break. Finally work up to running 30 minutes with a 30 second walk break as needed. If you have to back down to using walk breaks more often, that’s okay. The important thing is to run easily for periods of time to build strength in your legs and your heart. Finish with a 5 minute walk as a cool down, then stretch your muscles to reward them for a good effort. You’ll be less sore later.
If you stay active and run as you get older, you will age gracefully. We might not be as fast, but we can be strong and brave facing our years. We may be a role model for some young person. And we can still pretend to be swift horses running free in our imaginations. Tag, you are it!