Is it too late to start running?

Have you thought about running? As in actually propelling your body down the street in a moderate jog? The benefits are big, and it may not be too late to start.

I ran a bit in the 70s and early 80s but gave it up for walking by the time I turned 30. I simply didn’t enjoy running all that much. Walking has been good for me physically and mentally.

For a year or so now, I’ve had this urge to run. I’ll be out walking, and all of the sudden, I think, “Wow, it might feel good to run.” It’s not about losing weight or becoming super-fit. All of the sudden, it just sounded like fun.

Yet, I resisted. Why start now in my 60s, when walking seems to be fine? I started reading and found some interesting articles on the benefits of running, especially as we age. The most startling study found running might actually be good for your knees. In terms of bone density, running beats walking hands-down.

I finally decided to make the leap. I thought, well, I’ll alternate walking 30 seconds and then running 30 seconds. The first steps were wobbly at best – I wasn’t sure my ankles would hold me up! It felt weird to put that kind of pressure on my body.

Even for walking, I wear Hoka One One super-cushioned shoes, as I have bulging discs and other back maladies associated with age. I wear the Bondi 6. The shoes felt good, and once I got running, my ankles were functional. I completed a mile doing the walk-run.

Gradually, I increased to 1 minute of walking and 1 minute of running. And then I worked my way up to running a mile non-stop. I don’t want to screw this up, so I’m taking it slow.

After years of hating running, I can’t wait to do it again. I like the way the way running makes me feel. It’s a level of endurance hard to achieve through walking, unless you do lots of it. It’s winter now, and I love the way running warms me up fast. I can walk for an hour and never feel warm.

By retirement age, most of us have physical limitations. I say move if you’re able, as much as you’re able. Including physical movement in our daily lives enhances health and well-being. It’s great to run, work out at the gym and play sports, but walking, housework, yard work and cooking count, too.

From everything I’ve read, walking is nearly as beneficial as running, but you have to do more of it. We’re retired now, so walking more shouldn’t be a problem, right? I plan to continue my long walks, but I like these little walk-runs and want to gradually increase the running time. Here’s a good article from Consumer Reports on running versus walking.

The most comprehensive argument for running comes from no other than Runner’s World. The article focuses on running to look and feel younger and covers benefits to the heart, muscles, brain and immune system. The article speculates running 2 ½ hours per week total reaps all the rewards to be reaped. This article from the New York Times suggests 2 hours of running per week adds seven years to your life.

Will our aging backs, knees and other mysterious parts hold up to running? I find the body to be remarkably delicate and resilient at the same time. The key to running at this age or maybe any age is to ease in slowly and monitor your body carefully.

It’s exciting to be 63 years old and completely surprised by the spontaneous urge to run. I’m going for it.

6 thoughts on “Is it too late to start running?”

  1. I envy your young legs! And yes, I mean what I wrote. I’ve been a runner for 20 years, so repetitive use injuries are really doing a number on me these days. Yet, just today, in the middle of a long hike, I had a sudden urge to run. So I’m heading to soft sand tomorrow to see how it goes with my legs.

    I say run! I have many friends moving into their 70’s and beyond that continue to run. And if it hurts at some point you can always stop. But until then, enjoy. 😊

    1. Thanks for the words of encouragement, Tamara. It’s funny how that urge to run just pops up. I hope you get to run again without injuries. But as you said, we can always stop if it gets too bad.

  2. Sounds like you’re doing your own version of the “couch to 5k.” Sometimes I do 5k fundraisers and walk/run. There’s a particular joy in running that I don’t get from walking, and I walk a lot.

    1. Hi Sheila — a 5K would be a good goal. I really hope my back holds up, because I agree there’s a joy you don’t get with walking. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. It’s never too late to start running! As long as your body and your mind allow it, go for it! For me, it’s mostly walking now (knees) but every now and again, the running thought does pop into my head and I’ll occasionally run, not much, not far, and not fast. But it does feel good. 🙂 Just keep moving!

    1. Hi Scott! I think my mind is more accommodating than my body, but I’m still going for it. I love the walking goals you’ve shared on your blog.

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