Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would pick up the sport of running, let alone enjoy it. But enjoy it I do.
I fell in love with running after completing a marathon at the age of 61. Full disclosure… I walked (as well as hobbled) my first full marathon.
For a number of reasons, I came in after the official time. Actually, I believe I hold the distinction of being the very last person to cross the finish line for the 2015 Eugene Marathon.
After what I classify as an incredibly humiliating experience, I decided to get serious about participating in a marathon.
With ego sufficiently bruised, I got serious about my next marathon scheduled for the following year, the week before my 62 birthday. With my resolve back on track, I changed what I ate, how I trained and incorporated resistance training in the mix.
Mind you, I had people saying, “You ought to be proud of yourself. You finished. That’s more than most people would do.”
Let’s get one thing clear; it isn’t about just finishing. It’s about doing the best I can do. In hindsight, I didn’t give it my all. More on that later.
The reason I walked (and at times power-walked) in my first full marathon, is I’ve never, in my wildest dreams, wanted to be a runner. There are plenty of reasons for this…
Grade school memories
One reason I never considered myself a runner is because of my experience in grade school. I have less than positive memories about my attempts at running. The phys-ed teacher seemed to favor students who could run faster than the “average” students. She also seemed to enjoy humiliating those of us who didn’t have the knack for running.
Add to that a marriage in my twenties to a “super jock” who loved ridiculing me for my lack of athletic ability and I was more than convinced I wasn’t cut out for sports of any type. That is until…
A surprising discovery
In my thirties I discovered body building. When I felt the joy of the metal in my hands, I took to the sport like crazy. So much in fact, I planned on competing. I had a coach who pushed me beyond where I thought I could go. I immersed myself into the sport. I read everything I could get my hands on, invested in supplements and ate to support my goals.
Things were humming along great until Bob, my coach, encouraged me to start using steroids. With a little over a year completely clean and sober, I was conflicted with what to do.
Bob wanted me to compete and told me in no uncertain terms that I wouldn’t have a snowballs chance in hell of winning if I didn’t use the “juice.”
Sobriety wins out
After a lot of soul searching I chose not to do steroids. Looking back, I’m incredibly grateful I made the choice I did. For one thing, my sobriety was far more important than winning a competition. Secondly, the long-term impact of anabolic steroids is incredibly dangerous.
According to an excellent article on WebMD.com in addition to excess body hair, deepening of the voice, reduction in breast size and risk of cancer, other risk factors include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Higher levels of bad cholesterol (LDL)
- Lower levels of good cholesterol (HDL)
- Liver disease and liver cancer
- Irritability, rage, aggression, violence and uncontrolled high energy
This is a great example of how the shortcut and short-term gains are not worth the long-term damage.
I continued bodybuilding into my late forties never thinking I would give it up. As is often the case, my priorities changed as I focused on growing my business. Little by little I found reasons why it was more important to work than workout. And little by little, I packed on the weight.
With age comes wisdom
Hitting my 50’s it got more and more difficult to stay in shape.
Then into my late 50’s, I was fed up with buying into what many women resign ourselves to. A life of sluggishness, intense weight gain, and low energy.
After a few false starts, I made a commitment to regular exercise. What started out as power walking, turned into running which turned into my favorite form of exercise.
What I love about the sport of running is how popular it has become.
It’s a relatively easy sport to get involved with. When you first start out, all you really need is a good pair of shoes and comfortable clothing. The more involved you get, then you can invest in other gear. Some of my favorites are my FitBit, running socks, sport bras, iPhone holder and a headlamp for early morning runs.
Out of all of these items, the headlamp is by far the one thing that is an absolute must in order to be easily seen by drivers.
Since committing to running as a way to stay in shape and improve my health stats, I run at least five days a week. Now mind you, I don’t always feel like running nor will I break any records, but once I get outside and I get the first mile under my belt, I’m incredibly thankful I stuck with my commitment.
I’ve often had people ask me if I run in the rain. Absolutely! After all, I do live in Oregon and if I let rain deter me, I would miss out on a lot of amazing runs.
The best part of all is this; due to the amount of energy I have because of eating health and running on a regular basis, I also enjoy a lot of other outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking and bicycling. It’s kind of a kick in the butt to feel so great in my sixties. If someone would have told me this is what being a senior citizen is like, I never would have believed them.
I’m not saying that every woman over the age of 50 or 60 should run. I am, however, saying you should have some type of movement and exercise. Find what works for you, make a commitment, start slowly and build from there.
You’ll find that the more you exercise, the better you feel. The better you feel, the more you tend to enjoy life.
And isn’t enjoying life what we deserve as “women of a certain age?”
If you enjoyed what you read, be sure to join the Passion for Thriving Facebook Group. In there you will find lots of like-minded women “of a certain age” who are living life fully and not willing to settle for the status quo.