Running delivers many benefits in terms of fitness and energy levels. But as we age, running can certainly get harder to perform regularly. Here are ways to get you running for the long haul.
If you’re feeling the effects of running more as you age, consider the following to help keep you going:
- Get the right gear: Have your feet measured and assessed for the best running shoe for your size, weight and gait. If possible, rotate among two or more pairs of shoes to encourage your body to adapt to different styles to help prevent overuse injuries. Be sure to replace shoes after 300-500 miles (or 3-6 months, depending on your mileage) or when they show wear. Don’t economize on your feet!
- Vary your surface: While most of us prefer to run outside, try to avoid running on asphalt or concrete pavement all the time. Incorporate runs on a local school track, or a beach, in a deep water pool or even treadmill to vary the stress impact to your body.
- Stretch: Research in the past few years has gone away from recommending pre-workout stretching, but post-run, stretches are essential. Not only do they loosen tight muscles, but they can help reduce the risk of injury and help you recover faster.
- Cross train: As we get older, it can be a challenge to put in a lot of miles on consecutive days. This is where cross training is helpful. If you want to run on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, for instance, choose to swim, do yoga or use the elliptical on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Or incorporate more than one rest/recovery day each week. While mixing up workouts can be difficult for the most diehard runners, ultimately it can keep you running for the long haul.
- Work your core: As part of cross training, make sure you strengthen the core – the abs, back, hips and glutes – where all your movement comes from. Take a class, do Pilates, ask a trainer or consult books or online resources for exercises that will help you stay strong from the center, which will help your running form.
- Address injuries: Runners tend to be a tough breed and can work through pain. As you get older, however, ignoring pain over the short term can lead to more serious consequences that may take you off your regimen entirely. Find a good massage therapist, check out a chiropractor or acupuncturist, call on an orthopedic surgeon if necessary and talk to a physical therapist for chronic issues. There is no weakness in utilizing the many professionals available to get you pain-free (or relatively).
Thankfully, there’s no age where you have to stop running. Keep going as long as you can!