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Start Running In Your 40s, 50s, or Above with These 8 Best Tips

Dec 24, 2023 By Nancy Miller

If you're over 40 and considering running, it's natural to question if it's the appropriate time to engage in a high-impact activity like this. Many in their 40s and beyond might hesitate to start an intense new exercise regimen. However, it's important not to let these uncertainties hinder your health and fitness ambitions. There is no time like the present to begin jogging, no matter your age. Read the top tips for running here in this article and start your fitness plan.

Advantages of Running During Midlife

Running benefits everyone, whether you're just starting or you've been an avid runner for years. The health perks it offers become even more significant as we age. Study after study shows runners live longer than non-runners. Even after two weekly runs, these running benefits are evident. No need to run daily. A daily five-to-10-minute run at an average speed cut the chance of dying from any cause in half and halved heart disease in one study. The positive impacts of running extend beyond physical health. It's a super mood booster and good for your mental health. Even beginners may lose weight by jogging. Given these advantages, why not attempt running?

Top 8 Tips To Start Running

Consult Your Healthcare Provider

Before you start your running journey, especially if you've been inactive, have health conditions, or are new to exercise, it's wise to check in with your doctor. They can offer tailored advice to ensure your running is safe and beneficial. This is particularly important if you're on medications that might impact your exercise heart rate. Your doctor might recommend a stress test to confirm your heart's readiness for strenuous exercise in certain cases.

Invest in Quality Running Equipment

Running doesn't take much gear, but you need decent shoes. Your running shoes should be cushioned, fit properly, and complement your style. As a beginner, consider getting professionally done at a specialized store. Along with shoes, consider comfortable running clothes made of moisture-wicking material. While high-tech gadgets like GPS watches or water-resistant headphones are nice, they're not essential for beginners. Focus on the basics first.

Start Slowly and Progress Gradually

Begin your running regimen with manageable goals. If you're new to running, aim to run two to three times a week, starting with 10-20 minutes per session. Running is challenging initially, which is normal. Consider a run/walk program alternating between brisk walking and gentle jogging to build endurance. For instance, begin with two minutes of walking followed by one minute of jogging and build up gradually. Starting with a warm-up, like a brisk walk or light jog for at least five minutes, and ending with a cool-down period is required. Following this method, your body will gradually adjust to new activities and protect itself from injuries.

Running Plans

Seek online training plans tailored to your goals, whether completing a 5K or a marathon. Platforms like the Nike Run Club offer detailed programs for various distances. They even feature guidance from renowned coaches and athletes. For beginners, their “Get Started Collection” includes introductory audio-guided runs such as “First Run” and “Next Run,” each lasting about 20 minutes. These resources are invaluable for building confidence and momentum in the early stages of running.

Include Strength Training

Strength training is crucial for enhancing strength and preventing injuries. Fortunately, no equipment is needed. If bodyweight exercises such as squats, lunges and push-ups are enough to maintain a runner's physical balance. Core exercises are also essential, including planks, dead bugs, or bridges. A strong core has been proven to enhance running efficiency and effectiveness.

Mind Your Nutrition

Proper nutrition is vital for energizing your runs. Energy. Glucose is produced from carbohydrates in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Proteins from nuts, chickens and eggs are needed to build up muscles. Don’t overlook healthy fats in seeds and plant oils, as they assist in vitamin absorption and protection of organs. If you find your energy lagging, a consultation with a registered dietitian can ensure your diet supports your running program.

Prioritize Rest and Recovery

Running days are important, but recovery is even more so, especially as you get older. Your body needs more time to rest. On days off from running, indulge in lighter cross-training activities--swimming or biking and yoga. Consider dedicating a couple of days each week to complete rest. Treat yourself occasionally with a massage or a therapeutic stretching class to reward your efforts and aid recovery.

Avoid Unnecessary Comparisons

Running can inadvertently become a platform for comparisons, either with others or with your younger self. However, such comparisons are often counterproductive. It's crucial to remember that our running biomechanics naturally evolve as we age. This doesn't mean you can't set and achieve new, challenging fitness goals. Research has shown that older beginners to running can still reach impressive performance levels with consistent training.

Bonus Tip: Connect with Fellow Runners and Communities

Joining a running group can significantly boost your motivation and allow you to connect with others who share your passion for running. Local running stores, gyms, community centers, or global initiatives like the Nike + Run Club are excellent places to find running partners. Engaging with running communities through social media or apps can also be inspiring. Participating in group challenges or being part of a global running team can add a sense of camaraderie to your running journey.

Bottom Line

Starting or continuing a running program in your 40s, 50s, or later lies in prioritizing your health and enjoying the journey. Consult with healthcare professionals, invest in the right gear, and follow a structured plan that suits your level. Incorporate strength training and nutrition that support your running goals. Remember to take rest seriously and avoid comparing your progress with others. Embrace the social aspects of running by connecting with a community, and above all, find joy and celebrate every milestone in your running journey. Your age is just a number; what truly matters is the commitment and enthusiasm you bring to each run.

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