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Fitness After 50

Peace, enthusiasm, balance, self-discovery, time management, seeing the beauty of graceful aging, spirituality and fitness; I realize all of these come to me easier now than in my previous four decades. Except for the fitness category.  For me, fitness is running-centric. 

What does it mean to be 50 years old and a runner?  

The first thoughts that leap into my brain are more negative than I’d like them to be: aches & pains, moving at a snail’s pace, sagging knee and belly skin and worrying about when, where, and how to pee on a long run.

Thankfully., the runner’s mind takes over and I quickly shift to a more positive outlook. 

Running has been my steady partner since I entered my first road race at 13 years old.  I wanted the T-shirt. I won the under-14 division. This immediately defined me and set my life compass.

Over time, I became the expert in every running conversation in my life (and I have a lot of running conversations). 

At 50, running looks very different for most. There are a few amazing athletes still out there crushing every distance.  We hold them in high esteem because we see our best selves in them and use them as inspiration. I have Andrea, my best friend, Fuel 100 Co-Founder, and occasional running partner.  

However, for the vast majority of runners there is a shift in relationship with running as the body loses the zest of earlier days.  We might run to battle that 10 pounds or 50 pounds we inherited through the years; easy on, yet seemingly impossible to get off. Some might also run out of habit, but don’t get as much joy as in younger years. The worst-case scenario is if you’ve lost your relationship with fitness all together.  

For all of us enjoying the older half of our lives, there are a few things we should consider in our fitness journey (and yes, it is a journey rather than a destination)!  I have added to my running know-how while embracing the next decade.  

My seven tips to fitness beyond 50

  1. Stop comparing yourself to the younger, sprier you.  This losing battle will bring emotions ranging from doubt to despair.  
  2. Set new age-group personal bests in every race distance.   A fresh assessment of what your body can do at 50 or 55 or 60 will serve you well as you set training expectations. 
  3. Schedule a destination race. Ideally with friends or family.  No matter your budget, use your love of fitness to discover new cities and gather your tribe.
  4. Find a physical therapist that listens to you and see them on a regular basis.  Their guidance and knowledge are crucial to mend years of use of your structure. An expert can also help catch small issues before they sideline you.  
  5. Find or start a coffee group or reading club that runs. Adding new people to your sphere of influence is very important.  We are surprisingly set in our ways at 50 and actively looking for new influencers in your running life will have a fantastic ripple effect.
  6. Do more miles on soft surfaces. If you’re training for a road race you should, of course, do tempo runs and race-pace workouts on the road.  Consider doing all your other miles on trails, golf-courses (before tee time), and gravel roads. Your joints will thank you with faster recovery and less soreness. 
  7. Show-up.  Get those shoes on and get of that door.  Whether you are new to fitness or a true veteran, embrace today with vigor and passion. Nothing can improve unless you show-up.  

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