Late Bloomers Turn to Running
Late in life running is becoming a “thing.” And actually, a very popular thing.
I began my passion for running shortly after I turned 61. Prior to that, I dabbled at power walking. That is, until I broke my ankle in the 8th mile of a training day shortly after I turned 55.
That was enough for me to postpone my inevitable passion for running. There were a number of reasons I was in limbo with running, one being the care taking of my elderly parents. But that’s a story for a completely different post.
And yet, it was during the time of care taking my mom I quit exercising altogether and gained a great deal of weight. It happened one day at a time, one candy bar at a time, while by her hospital bedside.
The second reason I didn’t jump right into running is I had been speed shamed in school by a teacher. It’s amazing how powerful the influence of one adult can be on a child.
Power Walking was the Catalyst
So how did I finally get back into power walking turned running enthusiast? After complete avoidance of full length mirrors, one day I stopped dead center in front of our upstairs mirror and took a good, hard look at what I did to my body. It was not pretty. Especially since at one point in my life I had considered becoming a competitive bodybuilder. But again, I digress.
After the honest evaluation of how I had literally let myself go, I decided to start walking. Leisurely walking turned into power walking. Power walking got me through my first full marathon at the age of 61.
My first full marathon triggered something in me to run short distances. This led into longer and longer distances to the point of running my second marathon at the age of 62.
After finishing with a better time than my first full, I decided 26.2 miles was not my idea of fun. Yet, running had gotten to me. I had the bug.
One Race Led to the Next and Next and…
Before I knew it I was signing up for a number of 5k, 10k, 5 and 10 mile races and even a couple of half marathons. The shorter distances were becoming very enjoyable to me.
At the time of this writing, I just finished a 10k two days ago and in two days I run a 4 miler.
It’s amazing how many people assume they are too old to start running.
“You don’t understand Kathleen,” many have said. “You’re cut out for running. I’m not.”
Oh my. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am NOT cut out for running. I will never be a super fast runner. On a great day, I can do an 11 1/2 minute mile. On average days, I am at about 12 1/2 – 13 minute miles. That’s plenty fast for me. LOL
It All Starts with the First Step
Here’s the thing… we all start with the first step in our running adventure. When I started running, I was doing a 22 minute mile.
With each step we become more confident, stronger, more committed, and one day we suddenly realize, “Wow! I really am running. Hot dog! I’m a runner.”
In the time I’ve been running, I have amassed a collection of items that have made the process a lot easier and more enjoyable.
My advice to anyone who is planning on taking up the sport is to get the right gear. It makes a huge difference in the experience.
If you have someone you’re shopping for (maybe even yourself) here are some of my best recommendations for gifts for new runners.
Must Have Items for New Runners (click the images to go directly to Amazon to get your gear)
The correct shoes will make or break your experience. Although you can buy from a store like Amazon, for the best fit, I highly recommend you visit a local running store. Often, they have machines that check your stride. This allows the employee to advise you on the perfect shoe for you. If you are buying shoes as a gift for someone else, get them a gift certificate in order that they can choose according to their taste. Prices range from $100 – $200 up.
Having the right kind of socks, like shoes, make for a great experience… or not. These you can purchase directly from Amazon.
Never wear 100% cotton for running. You will curse your socks if you do because you’re sure to get blisters.
Not that running socks assure no blisters, but you minimize the chance of messing up your skin.
It helps to have some type of measurement device. I actually use two. FitBitHR and an app on my phone. This allows me to monitor my progress and push myself that extra quarter mile. At the time, it may not seem like that big of a deal, but every quarter mile adds up.
What I like about FitBit is the community you can join. There are FitBit groups that target various interests. I belong to one for women over the age of 60. It’s a great opportunity to share insights and ideas with other “women of a certain age.” LOL
For longer runs, replenishing your carbohydrates is essential. Otherwise, you will find out what it means to “hit the wall.”
When I first began running, I really thought this was made up. That is, until I hit the wall.
By having a couple of Gu packs on hand for longer runs, you minimize the chance of hitting your own wall.
Having the right running clothes really does make a difference. What I like about the running pants with a hidden pocket is being able to take my driver license, medical card and car key with me without worrying where I will put it.
I have one favorite pair of running pants and it’s the pair with the hidden pocket. Do yourself a favor and get the pants with the hidden pocket.
There’s nothing quite like a good sports bra for giving you the peace of mind to run as fast (or as slow) as you want without the worry of a boob falling out. Seriously, this is a concern many women have.
It helps alleviate back problems, sore breasts and embarrassing moments.
My experience is that the size runs small so buy larger than you think you need.
On hotter days and longer runs, you will definitely sweat. A good bandana on your forehead (like in my picture at the top of this post) keeps the sweat out of your eyes.
Besides, as my 5 year old nephew says, “It makes you look cool.” And at my age, cool is good.
You can always wear a baseball cap, but my choice is always a bandana over a baseball hat. However, on really cold days, I opt for a beanie caps.
A good headlamp is a must have, especially on dark mornings, foggy days or early evening runs where lighting is not the best. I like the four setting type that you see in the picture rather than one setting that has a band that goes over the top of my head. Those tend to be heavier and give me a headache.
I use the flashing light setting in order that I am very obvious to drivers in the areas I run.
The ones with the band around the forehead are lighter and very easy to adjust. This can be a literal life saver.
I LOVE my iPhone carrier. Not only is it an easy way to carry my phone, I can listen to music while I run. Nothing gets me going quite like some good Sylvester music.
To have the best listening experience you need to get a good set of earbuds that are Bluetooth friendly. The set below is what I have and I love them.
Earbuds are a must have if you want a good listening experience while running. Not only to listen to music, but also the updates of how far (and fast) you’ve gone. What I like about this particular style and brand is how lightweight they are.
Equipment Does Matter
The bottom line is this; when you have the right equipment, your experience is going to be a better one.
Everything listed are items I use and love. Do yourself, or whomever you’re buying gifts for, a favor and get set up the right way.
If you’re looking for books to read on the topic of running, click here.