Runners World Articles: Archives
Happily Ever After - 9 secrets to lifelong running
If I asked you if you'll still be a runner 10 years from today,
you'd probably answer, "Of course I will." But here's another question:
Will you be a happy runner 10 years from today?
That one's harder to answer, and maybe you never asked yourself
the question. But you should. Over the years I've seen countless
runners "of a certain age" who are burned out, injured, or just
plain bored with running.
Below, I've listed my secrets to lifelong running happiness. Set
these good habits in motion today, and they'll keep you running
strong and healthly 5, 10, or even 20 years down the road.
1. Find join in running...not just speed. We all slow down as we
age; it's inevitable. That's why, if you enjoyment of running depends
solely on fast times and PRs, you're setting up yourself for disappointment.
When you learn to appreciate even your slowest runs, you open yourself
up to another world. When I was racing hard, I felt best when I
stopped. But on easy runs, I discovered that good feelings surface
during the first mile and stay with me the whole way.
2. Obey your heart, not your watch. A 45-year old who's running
an 8 x 400 speed session may need to walk 200 to 400 meters to fully
recover between repeats, rather than jog 200 meters as he did at
age 35. This is why you should learn to rely on your body's "rested"
signals, rather than on some predetermined time on your watch, to
tell you when you're ready for your next repeat. When are you rested?
When you feel rested.
3. Keep racing. The camaraderie and charged atmosphere of a race
will keep you excited about running- even when you're no longer
chasing PRs. If nothing else, line up at the back of the pack and
enjoy the scenery.
4. Pick it up. Regular speed sessions are important. The change
of pace will spice up your weekly running schedule and keep you
motivated. Once a week, head to the track for repeats, do a fartlek
run, or insert a 10 x 100-meter repeats pickups in the middle of
5. Be social. Run with others whenever you can. The groups acts
as a support network, providing energy and motivation- which is
exactly what you need as you age. Also, older runners can feel younger
by mingling with newcomers.
6. Expand your goals. When most of think of running goals, we think
of next month's 5-K or this fall's marathon. That's fine. But we
need goals not only to get us from month to month, but also from
year to year. and decade to decade. Why not pledge to run the London
Marathon on your 60th birthday? Or finish a 5-K with your spouse
on your 35th wedding anniversary? The earlier you plan, the more
time you'll have to look forward to the event.
7. Take care of yourself. A massage might seem like an indulgence,
but regular rubdowns are also a key part of staying injury-free.
A sports massage therapist can rub out little aches, pains, and
twinges before they become full-blown problems.
8. Cross train. Too many people turn to cross-training only after
they've become injured. By incorporating a day or two or cycling,
skating, or swimming into your weekly schedule when you're healthy,
you'll help prevent both injuries and burnout.
9. Hit the weights. We all lose muscle mass as we age. You can
slow this process by weight training two or three times per week,
starting now. Better muscle tone also will help protect your bones
and preserve your balance.
World, July 2000, p. 44
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