Running Over 50: Where to Start

We're sharing this article from Runner's World to show that it's never to late to start exercising. 


Does this sound like you: I’m over 50, and think I want to start running. Unfortunately, I have not been active since my high school football days, so I’m at a loss. I was wondering if you had any special instructions for me given my age and inactivity level?

It is never too late to get started on improving your health and fitness, so good for you! While, in general, all the basic training principles apply to everyone, your age and current health status are important considerations. And yes, there are some things older adults should keep in mind when starting any exercise program. Here are our suggestions:

1. Have a complete physical

Schedule an appointment with your health-care professional before you begin training. Discuss your plans to start a running program and ask if there are any health concerns to be aware of, like signs of heart disease, diabetes, or orthopedic limitations.

A complete physical will provide you and your physician with important health information like weight, blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol, BMI, and a lot more. Knowing these numbers at the start will help you track your progress over time and note improvements.

2. Invest in the right equipment

In this case, equipment means shoes. Find a specialty running store (like Fleet Feet) and obtain a professional shoe fit to determine the right pair for you based on your biomechanics. If you need help finding your perfect fit, schedule a shoe or sports bra fitting with us today

3. ID tag

Have your name and contact information along with pertinent health information on you while running. A simple way to do this is to purchase an ID tag to wear as a bracelet (like RoadID) or on your running shoe, so this information is available at all times.

4. Select an appropriate training plan

Your training plan should start at your current fitness level. I suggest you consider starting a walking program first. This is a great way for anyone to begin training, but it can be especially effective for older runners or those who have been sedentary for long periods of time.

(Check out the Fleet Feet Fort Mill Training Programs here.)

Walking starts the basic conditioning process needed for running, but in a gentler manner. The same muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, connective tissue, and bones used for walking do similar movements on runs. As you become conditioned, you can gradually ease into running by mixing short run intervals into your walking. Older runners need a longer warmup period, so be sure to include this phase before moving into the actual exercise.

5. Add cross-training

Older runners can benefit from cross-training, specifically strength and flexibility training. Strength training twice a week can help counter muscle loss and bone loss that comes with aging. Work on your flexibility with stretching after your runs/walks or try a yoga class two days a week to help maintain joint range of motion and help your balance. If you want to add additional cardio exercise, choose a non-impact exercise like swimming or spinning to supplement your running or walking. (An easy way to do this at home is with the 10-Minute Cross-Training for Runners workout DVD from Runner’s World, which aids recovery and strengthening.)

With walking/running three days a week, strength training, and stretching it will lead to a very busy (but healthy) lifestyle. Along with exercise, nutrition is equally as important to improving health and fitness, so take a look at your diet and make healthy choices to fuel your new activity level.

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