Fauja Singh, 107, of London, took up running aged 89 and earned a place in the record books as the first centenarian and oldest person to ever complete a marathon. He ran the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in eight hours, 25 minutes and 16 seconds. Aged 100 he also set eight world age records including running the 5K in 49:57.39. There are similarly impressive world records in existence for every ‘veteran’ age group from 35 to 100.
Can you see what we’re getting at? We’re not suggesting you have to be a record-breaker like Fauja, but it really is never too late to take up running. There’s a reason why running is so popular these days. There are so many benefits and it is so easy to start. Running is the ultimate democratic sport because you can do it on your own, do it pretty much anywhere and crucially you can do it at any age.
There are lots of great reasons to take up running later in life:
- It keeps you fit and keeps your weight down
- It lowers your cholesterol level and blood pressure
- It boosts your confidence and helps you live longer
- It improves your bone density and gives you good legs!
- It gets you away from your computer screen and out in the fresh air
- It makes you feel better and look better
If these health and emotional benefits aren’t enough, there is also the wonderful social side of running that is open to you as an older runner. Whether you are participating in a parkrun, ‘Couch to 5K’ or are part of a running club, there is an unbeatable high of individual achievement in a group environment that creates a fantastic camaraderie between runners. Then there’s the joy of beating your PB and sharing your milestones with your new friends… and rivals. Improving, setting targets and meeting your goals is all good for your body and brilliant for your self-esteem!
All these things can come as a wonderful surprise and be particularly beneficial to the older runner, as you re-discover the joy of sport and friendly competition.
Of course, a fifty-year-old runner can’t get away with the same things a twenty-year-old runner can. As muscles get older, they lose a bit of elasticity, so the older runner must be more thorough in warming-up, warming-down and stretching. But on the flip side the older runner often has more mental and physical endurance and can cope with greater training mileages.
Some potential older runners might fear injury, seeing running as a ‘high-impact’ sport, but the truth is, provided you take the correct precautions, running will almost always do you more good than harm. The correct, supportive footwear is essential of course, and we would always recommend getting professionally fitted at your local running shop. Knee and ankle supports, as well as compression sleeves can also help. Another good tip is to combine training on roads with more forgiving surfaces such as grass or trails whenever possible.
In the brilliant book Running Over Forty, written by the late former international runner and iconic coach Bruce Tulloh with his wife Sue Tulloh, they say: “Running can improve you physically and mentally. It can cure depression, improve your appetite and make your legs look better.” What’s not to like?
If you are thinking of taking up running, do come and see us, for advice, shoes or anything else you may need to take up this amazing sport. We promise to be gentle!
Running really can transform your life. And the great news is, it’s never too late.