So you’ve decided to start running. I’m assuming you’re in good physical condition and injury-free. Running is an excellent choice as it is one of the best cardio exercises for burning calories and strengthening the heart.
You’re aware that other women over 60 are running and that they all have good things to say about how they’ve improved their physical and mental health. Bravo to you for listening to us!
What do you do? Should you put on your old runners, a pair of sweats, and head down the road going as fast as you can?
This will guarantee that you’ll only run once, and all your good intentions to get in shape will be gone, replaced by a terribly sore and aching body.
Running is so easy, but it does require some planning. Taking the effort to carefully plan your running points you in the right direction towards a successful and continuing running experience.
Here are 6 easy steps on how to start running after 60.
Prepare for Running Success
The first thing you should do is mentally prepare yourself for running. This means acknowledging that you are running for your overall health and fitness.
This acknowledgement means that you will not focus on your running performance. It is important to accept that you are not running to be competitive and that you are not “proving” you are in the same shape you were as a teen or young adult. The running experience should be stress-free and without performance expectations so you can relax and enjoy the exercise.
Next, you need to pick your running outfit. Get a good pair of running shoes and exercise clothing that has no rough seams to reduce the likelihood of abrasion and bleeding. Socks should be out of a wick-able synthetic material to keep the feet dry and prevent blisters. See our Best Workout Clothes For Older Women for ideas.
Once you have your clothing all settled, you need to pick a running route. It should be somewhat traffic-free, scenic and/or interesting, and if possible, start from your front door.
Now all you have left to do is pick a day and a time to start your run, and be ready to start it then.
These preparations put you in charge of the run. They allow you to take ownership of it. This goes a long way in making your run a special time for you to do something important for yourself.
See also: Pushing Ourselves To Stay Physically Fit Without Hurting Ourselves
Focus on Run Format
Your first run should be an “out and back.” You head out for, say, 10 minutes, and then turn around and return to where you started. This will give you a first run of 20 minutes.
Walk for the first 2-3 minutes; walking slowly then faster and faster. Start running slowly and increase only slightly, remembering that it is not a race. Vary walking with running if you find you are getting out of breath.
To check that you are not running too fast, do the talk test. Can you speak without being winded? If not, slow down.
Don’t be disheartened if you find yourself having to walk more than you are running. Each time it will get a little bit easier, and soon you will be running more than you walk.
Pay Attention to your Running Form
Run like you are a puppet with a string pulling up at the top of your head. Your head should be held high, back straight, shoulders back, and arms swinging by your sides.
Think about your form as you run, and if you find you are squeezing your arms and raising your shoulders, relax into the puppet form. This posture will help prevent injury and reduce fatigue.
Enjoy your Run
Look around, enjoy your run and the moment. Let go of your day as you run, and you’ll find yourself in a mindful state of focusing on the here and now, your form, and the route scenery.
Let your mind empty of thoughts. You may also find you can focus on a specific problem and maybe even solve it! And smile, nodding to other runners, who may also be beginners just like you.
Once you are back, do a short cool down. This is basically the reverse of how you started. You’ll feel your heart rate lowering and your body relaxing.
Do some simple body and arm stretches, even if it’s just swaying your body around, lifting your arms, and then hugging one knee then the other. A few simple stretches help the muscles relax and prevents stiffness the following day.
After your run, treat yourself to a nice warm bath or shower, some fruit, maybe a cup of tea, and listen to relaxing music. Allow about 15 minutes for your body to relax and recover from the exercise. Think about how good you feel.
Give yourself a day or two off after your run before you go out for another. If you are stiff, run for the same time out and back, but if you’re okay, add 5 minutes to the total run time.
Be careful to add no more than 15 minutes a week. A 45 minute run is a good time goal for a regular run. And running about 3 times a week is an excellent way of maintaining overall fitness and feeling great!
It’s all good!
Have you taken up running after 60? What was your experience? What advice would you give to the other women in our community who may be considering starting running? Please join the conversation.