Seniors who run and are on the move

Running For Seniors {who are on the move}

I had a long career in running and I met many, many seniors who had taken up running when they retired at 60 or 65. It began as a way to stay fit and fill in the blocks of free time that comes with retirement.

One day they are running for 10 or 15 minutes and then it becomes half an hour and before long they are entering 10k races on Spring and Summer weekends. Running for seniors who are on the move is excellent for health and longevity if it’s approached properly.

It’s pretty amazing how many seniors take up running late in life and a year or two after they first laced up their running shoes they are entering marathons. Almost every one of the 30+ marathons that I ran had seniors in their sixties and quite often, in their seventies.

Of course, there are those who have been running for decades and just never stopped when they reached the golden years. They may have slowed down a bit, but they never stopped.

THE RUNNING CENTENARIAN

I remember the day I was following the live feed of the Toronto Marathon. There was a good reason for it. The book I was writing at the time called Seniors On the Move was pretty much done. I just wanted that special story of an amazing senior to end the book with. So basically, I was looking for a senior who was really on the move.

Fauja Singh from the United Kingdom was the Toronto Marathon runner I was interested in. In case you think you are too old to take up running, Fauja Singh was 81 when he first laced up his running shoes and hit the dusty trail.

He’d moved from India to the United Kingdom and that was when he began his running career. He was inspired by watching the London Marathon on television and the rest, as they say, is history.

Running For Seniors {who are on the move}
He was 100 when he ran the Toronto Marathon.

He amazed the running world when he ran a 26.2-mile marathon that same year in six hours and 54 minutes. The time that he posted was 58 minutes faster than the fastest time ever recorded for his age group.

Fast forward to Toronto 11 years later and at 100 years old Singh was taking on the marathon distance again in Toronto and he finished it. At 101 years old he took part in another marathon in London.

In 2004, he replaced David Beckham as the face of Adidas to endorse the brand. He is the oldest person in human history to complete the marathon distance.

In April 2019 Fauja Singh celebrated his 108th birthday. He had retired from running but still walks most days to stay fit. As he said during one interview, ” I know that I will be finished if I stop walking.” He holds all the age-related records, from 100 meters to the marathon for men over 100 and he might be holding those for a very long time.

World’s oldest runner retires from running at 101 years old.

SO WHAT’S YOUR EXCUSE?

Over the years, Fauja Singh has inspired many people to get off the couch and start running. He inspired people of all ages and all walks of life to get on the move. It’s hard to tell how many lives he has altered for the better.

How many people will live longer, healthier lives because he inspired them? Even to this day, Singh has never learned to read, but at the same time, has impacted the lives of so many.

Will you be one of those he inspires to take control of your health and well-being? It doesn’t mean you have to go out and run a marathon, but there is no reason seniors can’t run to stay fit. It could do wonders for the quality of life and longevity. In general, we are all living longer, so why not enjoy it by being in great shape?

Sure, you can take it easy and spend most of your retirement years sitting in front of the television, but you could be removing 10 or 15 quality years from your lifespan.

HOW DO YOU START RUNNING?

Well, if you are new to running, the first thing you do is start walking with purpose. What I mean by that is, walk at a strong, steady pace. Vary your pace and walk at different speeds to get your heart working at different rates. Walk uphills and downhills. Start out easy and increase your distance over time.

When you think you’re ready to incorporate some running into the program it would be a wise idea to have your doctor check you out and make sure everything is fine. He will most likely be very supportive of your new-found road to fitness. Why wouldn’t he be?

Running For Seniors {who are on the move}
Make sure your shoes are comfortable. Not too tight and not too loose.

Make sure you have shoes that fit you well and are not too tight or too loose. They should feel comfortable when you walk around on them. If they do, then chances are they will be fine when you begin running.

The trick is to ease into your running. Many people go headlong into running and end up getting injured and discouraged. Soon after, they quit running altogether. That scenario can be very easily avoided.

WALK RUN, WALK RUN, WALK RUN

I typed it three times so you would remember it. The best way to ease into running is to start by incorporating running into your walking. Find a great place to run. Maybe on a pathway alongside the river, a lonely country road, or a forest trail.

Say for example you are used to going for hour-long walks.

Begin your first running session with a 10-minute walk and then run for five minutes. Repeat that four times. When your hour workout is finished you will have walked for 40 minutes and run for 20.

That’s perfect! It ends up that your warm-up at the beginning is a 10-minute walk, and the cool-down at the end is another 10-minute walk. Taking your heart rate up and down at intervals is a great way to strengthen it.

HOW TO PROGRESS YOUR RUNNING

There are a couple of ways to make your running more challenging. The first way is to walk less and run more. In other words, after several sessions of a walk and run training see how you feel. A bit of soreness is quite common and that will disappear as you run more.

If things are great, you should be ready to ramp up you’re running a little. You can do this by walking for eight minutes and running for seven.

Repeat this four times if you are planning to put in another one-hour workout. When you are done you will have walked 32 minutes and run for 28 minutes. So you can see where this is heading.

Running For Seniors {who are on the move}
Find some great places to run, like a forest trail.

After four or five sessions of that, you might try running more than you are walking. This time you will walk for five minutes and run for ten. When you have finished your one-hour workout you will have walked for 20 minutes and run for 40 minutes. You have reversed what you did in your very first walk, run workout.

Eventually, you will say the heck with it and start off with a 10-minute warm-up walk and then run for 20 or 25 minutes. By now, you will most likely be feeling pretty good about your progress. In six weeks or a month, you will pretty well just be running. Keep in mind, however, that you should always begin your runs with a five or ten-minute warm-up walk.

Another way to progress your running is to run at a faster speed, but that is best done after you have put in plenty of miles to get to that point.

IS IT TIME TO RACE?

As I mentioned in the beginning, you would be surprised at how many people begin running in their senior years and grow to love it. Soon they find themselves entering some local races.

And why not? There is no reason you can’t enter a 10km race. You basically just run at your own speed, and much like your walk, run training you can walk parts of the race and run the rest.

Running For Seniors {who are on the move}
Beach run when you travel.

Some senior men and women enter 10km races and walk the whole thing. There’s nothing wrong with that. It means they are very healthy and on the move, and that’s exactly what you want as a senior.

The day might come when you run the whole thing and will be checking out the marathon’s upcoming marathons.

After all, is a man can start running in his 80s and run a marathon at 100 and 101 years old, it shows that all things are possible once you start believing in yourself.

READ ALSO: HOME EXERCISES FOR SENIORS

Feel free to comment on this article. I would appreciate your feedback and any experience you might have regarding the content.

 

10 comments / Add your comment below

  1. WOW1 This is one of the most inspiring posts I have ever read. It made me want to get on my walking shoes and begin right away. Well, the shoes are on and I have every intention of beginning with the walking with purpose.

    I have set up a home gym with the most basic of equipment, it comprises two ropes on pulleys which are strung over a door and the straps fit onto the feet and hands and you work for as long as possible doing various exercises. Have small hand weights and leg weights which strap onto my ankles. This is good enough for the moment and my little grandson finds it great fun.

    Now to get serious about walking. I am determined to become fit again. I taught aerobics for about 18 years but now in my retirement spend too much time on the laptop and not enough on my feet.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Jill. There are some very inspiring people out there including the 100-year-old I mentioned. It just goes to show what people are capable of no matter what their age.

  2. I think running is healthy and good for the spirit. It helps me relax after a long week at work. I can only do it once in a week, so I take my day to enjoy it. I hope to continue running as long as my body allows me

    Here I thought starting to run in your senior age was bad for your knees and heart. But as you said a doctor’s check should determine if it’s ok. And I think it is really nice to be active when you are a senior to keep fit and meet other people to socialize with.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you for your comment. For sure, it is a good idea to always check with a doctor as there could always be underlying health issues. I think if one takes it easy as they age they can run for a very long time. I used to run six days a week and sometimes 100 miles per week when I was a serious marathoner, but I just take it easy now and maybe run twice a week.

  3. This reminded me of a man I once saw in the running track where I practiced for my marathon. As I finished my third lap and ‘running’ out of breath, I was struck at awe how this elderly was way ahead of me, moving a great speed. He didn’t even stop to walk. He ran at a small pace and he was consistent AND he was 80 years old then. 

    After my knee injury, I stopped practicing but someone told me he was still running on the track, preparing for the next marathon. I salute his motivation and strength, really!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Cathy. Yes, there are some pretty amazing senior athletes out there. Maybe it’s a genetic thing that allows some people to just keep going and going like the energizer bunny.

  4. Hi

    It is important to keep fit as possible as we reach the twilight years, and as our mobility decreases then  we have to look on different forms of exercises. I personally do not think running is a good form of exercise for the elderly, especially for those who suffer from osteoarthritis, as running will increase the impaction on the knee, which is the last thing you want. I am lucky as my next door neighbour uncle is a osteo consultant and he tell people that running is the worst form of exercise as it causes damage to your knees 

    It is better to actually cycle as this open your knees more and actually reduces osteo pain. I also know that elderly people have more conditions and I can’t imagine taking running if you have cardio disease.

    Thank you for the article.

    Thanks

    Antonio

    1. Yes, there are many people against running later in life, but also a lot who enjoy it, so I guess it’s whatever a person likes to do.

  5. Hi Ray

    I’ve been a runner on and off through my life and thoroughly enjoyed it. Sadly even as I’m nearing retirement I have had to slow down due to bad knees. Walking is fine but running I can now only do for shorter distances and even then only on softer surfaces without my knees causing me trouble.

    With that said I don’t regret running in the least, I gave me a wonderful sense of achievement when I finished my first Marathon in my 40’s and every one since then. It’s a great way to stay fit just look after your knees.

    1. Thank you for your comment. Yes, it is too bad that many people run into knee issues later in life. I have been able to avoid that the past few decades and I still run to stay fit.

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