Running is an excellent sport to help people keep fit and trim as they get older. Here are some tips for people running in their 50s and beyond.
1. Check with your doctor
If you’re new to running or you’ve had a lengthy break from the sport, check with your doctor to make sure you get medical clearance. Chances are they will encourage you to get started, but it’s important to get their stamp of approval.
2. Adjust your goals
If you started running when you were younger, it can be tough to admit that you’re slowing down with age. But it’s a fact of life: As we get older, we lose muscle strength and aerobic capacity and we need more recovery time, so we just can’t train and race at the same level. That doesn’t mean that you can’t set goals to help motivate you and give you a serious sense of accomplishment. Adjust your expectations and pick realistic goals – be proud that you’re still being an active runner.
3. Take time to recover between runs
While you may have been able to run every day in your younger years, as you age, you’ll probably find that you don’t bounce back as quickly as you used to. While your legs may have felt fine the day after a hard workout or race in the past, now it may be several days before you’re feeling back to normal. Listen to your body and don’t force runs if you’re not feeling recovered. You may find that you feel better when you run every other day, as opposed to every day or six days a week.
4. Do regular strength training
Strength-training is beneficial for runners of any age, but those benefits are even more significant for older runners. People naturally lose muscle mass as they age, but regular strength training can help you avoid the decline. Improved muscle strength means that your muscles absorb more of the impact while running, which eases the stress on your joints. Simple exercises such as squats, push-ups and lunges can make a big difference in your running performance and resistance to injury.
5. Improve your balance
Improving your balance is not only helpful for running, but it’s also necessary for everyone as we age. If you have good balance, you’re less likely to fall and you can regain your balance more easily if you start to fall. You can work on improving your balance simply by standing on one leg – and alternating legs – for 30 seconds.
6. Improve your flexibility
As you age, you may notice that your legs, back, hips, and shoulders feel stiffer than when you were younger. This is particularly common when you first wake up or have been sitting for long periods of time. Everyone’s muscles and tendons lose some elasticity with time. But you can maintain or even improve your flexibility if you work on it. Regular stretching or doing yoga, especially after runs, can help you work on becoming more flexible.
7. Do a proper warm up before running
Make sure you do a proper warm-up before running, especially if you’re racing or doing a hard workout. Start with a 5-10-minute walk or easy jog, followed by some dynamic stretching. These stretches are active movements of muscles, moving you through a range of motion without bouncing. Examples of dynamic stretching are arm circles, heel raises, or lunges.
8. Take steps to prevent injury
Be proactive in your approach to injuries and don’t ignore the warning signs of an injury. As you age, you may find that you need to take new injury-prevention steps, such as regular massages, and more rest days.