Running isn’t easy, but it can be great. It isn’t something you can just leap into. For the vast majority of people, you’ll need to build up your fitness level before you can really run without placing yourself at a considerable risk of injury. As with all things fitness, this can take somewhat longer as we age. Does that mean that running is an activity reserved for the young? Is there a cut-off date for running?
The short answer: no. The longer answer involves your dedication to building up your fitness level, adding to your running in a gradual way and taking the right injury prevention steps. While this is the same for runners of any age, it is a slower and more gradual process as we get older. Furthermore, it means any injuries we do sustain will take longer to heal.
The easiest way to be able to run well into your senior years is to start as early as you can. That might mean you begin in your 20s and just keep it up. It could also mean that you’ve been essentially sedentary for your entire life and you’re trying it for the first time in your sixties. Either way, the earlier you start, the easier it will be and the longer you’ll be able to do it.
As you take care to work on your fitness, you’ll be building the foundation to be able to continue running as long as you want. There is no specific age limit to running, particularly when you keep up a healthy body. It’s for this reason that virtually every major city marathon always has runners in their eighties crossing the finish line. Naturally, running and marathon running are not the same thing, but the fact that any octogenarian can cross a marathon finish line is a clear indicator that the sport is open to anyone who is willing to keep up the right training.
There are four main steps you should follow if you want to start running at any age and keep it up for life:
- Listen to your body – it’s true that you need to have a certain amount of toughness but there’s a difference between going for that second wind and pushing yourself from a minor injury into a major one. Listen to cues that something could potentially be wrong and have it checked by a doctor, even if there’s a chance that it’s nothing.
- Understand your stride – have an experienced personal trainer show you how to focus on a shorter stride with a higher cadence. This reduces pressure and strain on all the joints every time your foot strikes the ground.
- Have a training plan – this should involve slow, gradual increases of your time, speed and distance to allow your body to adapt and should also involve proper resting periods between training days.
- Don’t forget the rest of your body – don’t simply focus on running as your only form of fitness. It’s great for you, but it doesn’t work out all your muscles. Strength training for other muscle groups should not be forgotten!