Before we get into the list, I want to make something very clear. I am not a health professional, a professional runner, a physical therapist, or a personal trainer. I don’t have a degree in anything that would make me an expert on running, or have done any research on the effects running has on the body. I am simply a middle-aged man that decided one day to take up running.
I grew up playing sports and have been active for most of my life. Over the past few years, my activity level decreased. My focus was mainly on my family and the various dad duties I needed to accomplish each day. Realizing my mental health was weakening as fast as my physical health, I decided to become proactive in strengthening myself physically and mentally. And that is how I became a runner.
Picking up running in your 40s isn’t a simple task. When I was younger and playing sports, I didn’t have to think about taking care of my body. I simply opened the door and ran out. Now, I have a process for my running days and non-running days. On the list are things I’ve learned along the way and if you are a runner in your 40s, I would love it if you left a comment on how you go about running and some things you’ve learned.
15 Tips for Runners in Their 40’s
- If you’re starting out, go easy. Don’t hit the gas right out of the gate. Finding your pace takes a while, so focus more on the mileage than the speed. Once you find a pace, stay with it for a while before you make a push to better your time.
- Don’t get discouraged if you can only go 1 mile. Or even a half a mile, for that matter. When I first started, getting to that first mile sucked. I was tired and sore before I got there. Getting to 3 miles took me longer than going from 3 to 5 miles.
- Here’s an unpleasant thing about being middle-aged. We go to the bathroom a lot. If you’re like me and need an occasional pit-stop, find a route with a toilet. I know all the best places to pee in my neighborhood.
- When I started out, I would get thirsty quickly. I hated carrying a backpack, so I bought a FlipBelt to hold a small water bottle. It was a great decision. I can run longer now without needing a drink, but I still wear the FlipBelt on my long runs.
- Find a way to fight boredom. I struggle when I don’t have something to listen to. I either listen to music or a podcast on my runs.
- This one is for the guys. You need to wear underwear with good support. Remember back when you could play a game of basketball while wearing boxer shorts? Those days are long gone. Without support, you could cause yourself some damage. The less bouncing around, the better.
- Listen to your body. When we were younger, we would tell ourselves to play through the pain. If you feel that something isn’t right, take the day off. If it continues to bother you, get it checked out. It’s hard to run again after a medical setback. Nip it in the bud early.
- Yoga is your friend. I firmly believe I’ve been able to be a consistent runner because of my 20 to 30 minutes of yoga a day. I watch Yoga with Adriene on YouTube and stretch out my body. It’s helped me to be more flexible and be less injury-prone.
- Set goals. When I started, I set a goal to run a marathon. I have yet to run that marathon, but I’m getting close. Knowing that I am going to run a marathon helps me to keep pushing to add more miles.
- Stay hydrated throughout the day. If you’re getting headaches after a run or get muscle cramps, you’re probably not drinking enough water. The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is chug a tall glass of water. Then, I keep a cup by the sink and take a big drink every time I go into the kitchen. After a run, I drink as much water as my body will let me.
- Take care of your feet. If you’re serious about becoming a runner, you need running shoes you don’t use for everyday use. You also need running socks. Blisters on your feet will turn you off from running. If you can, buy a good pair of running shoes. Not only will they protect your feet, you’ll also want to put your money to good use. Having an expensive pair of running shoes on my shelf is a great motivator for me. Since I spent the money, I better use them. (For those wondering, my shoes are the Cloud by On Running and my socks are from Balega.)
- Nipple chafing is for real. If I go on long runs, I apply Vaseline to my nipples. Trust me, you don’t want to be on a run when chafing happens. It’s as painful as it sounds.
- Strengthen your legs on non-running days. On the days that I don’t run, I do leg squats and calf raises.
- I hate to suggest this, but if you want to run longer distances, you need to think about what you eat. I still eat a lot of junk food, but I’ve cut it down. There is an effort to make sure protein is found in all my meals. I also can’t eat before a run, or I get stomach cramps or want to hurl about a mile into the run. I eat a granola bar before a run, then I usually eat a large omelet once I get back.
- I’ve become a supplement taker. I’m not sure how much taking supplements helps, but my body has felt better once I started taking them regularly. I take a lot of supplements for different reasons, but I take Vitamin B, Zinc, Magnesium, and a men’s health vitamin. On the days I forget, I can feel the difference.
I hope my suggestions can help those of you who are starting out or have been running for a long time. I would love to read your suggestions or see links to articles that have helped your running life.
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