Bored with Your Exercise Routine? Try Running!
BY SUSAN HORNIK
Are you bored with your exercise routine? Do you want to try something that could challenge you, help you lose weight and increase your metabolism? Running –be it out in wilderness or through the urban jungle–may do just that. Fiftyisthenewfifty’s Susan Hornik talked to experts and veteran runners about their life-changing experiences.
Running can turn into a family experience. North Carolina’s Keith Jordan Costantino was inspired to start running after his dad, Nicholas, an Army Ranger graduate of West Point and top fencer, found the sport. “My dad asked me to run a marathon with him, so I started training and building up to it. Growing up with asthma made it tough. And yet, as it turned out, running my first half marathon wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I persevered, with a lot of positive self talk and reminding myself how grateful I am to be able to run.”
Keith’s tip: Believe in yourself. “Believing i could do it–that was the hardest part.” His sister, Nicol Costantino-Frewerd, also loves running.
Keith’s dad, Nicholas, 67, enjoys running with his son: “This is our time to spend together. Running gives us clarity and purpose; it helps us get our mind off of things. And, I really like beating him in marathons! I still love the thrill of competing and the ladies aren’t bad to look at as we run past them!”
Keith’s mom, Jodi, feels that running is a natural way to aging. “Running makes me feel so young! I love the feeling of accomplishment –totally brightens my whole day!”
Bart Yasso, Runner’s World magazine’s Chief Running Officer, recommends new runners start out by doing a run/walk program. “Something like run five minutes followed by walking five minutes. Don’t worry about mileage– I like starting new runners out based on time. Also, begin slowly. Think about a jogging pace so you don’t burn out too quickly. I encourage walk breaks for first timers…. you have to walk before you run. Run 5 minutes, walk 5 minutes and repeat until you cover 30 minutes.”
Yasso said the biggest challenge for people running over 50 is to stay injury free. “I listen to my body when I need a break. I do some cross training to stay injury free. I love a spin class or 30 minutes on the elliptical. Just be happy with small gains. You will get faster and stronger if you have some patience!”
Yasso is a champion—he doesn’t even let his Lyme disease illness impact his desire to run. “Because of the effects of Lyme disease on his body, I can’t do as much as he could previously. It’s mostly affected my joints. I can’t run as far or nearly as fast but I never lost the passion. The few miles I run, I cherish every step. I hope to be a runner for life.”
Ohio’s Bob Argent started running last year. “I started running in March of 2014 because I felt out of shape and wanted to improve my fitness level. It helps me with the stress of my career and gives me quiet time in nature. I have lost over 20 pounds, I no longer need pills to sleep, my cholesterol levels are down and I haven’t needed a doctor other than for running-related injuries! It really has given me better health.”
Argent, 52, completed his first 5K only a few months later, on Memorial Day weekend. “I started with a couch to 5K running app on my phone. Also, I work with several runners, all in their 20s, and try hard to keep up with them. They offer me a lot of advice and encouragement. I can run eight miles without stopping now and am looking for a 10K to run in.”
Argent’s tip: “Don’t push too hard! I have had setbacks due to injury when I do.”
Cleveland’s Roger Rocha also “got off the couch to get in shape.”
“I have been running for seven years. That’s over 6,800 miles! And my knees are just fine! I credit Olympic athlete Jeff Galloway’s method of running and walking for this. That is where you run for a specific time and then walk for a specific time. While you are walking, you are resting your running muscles, so it’s less stress. I walk one minute at every mile marker. It’s easier for me to do it by distance than by time. Plus, mentally, I’m only running a series of one mile races with a bunch of one minute walk breaks,” Rocha said.
Rocha, 51, has run eight marathons, and one 50K. I ran the Boston Marathon this past April for charity. I think I’m done with them. Eight is enough, plus nothing will top Boston. Right now I’m in the middle of four half marathons in 65 days. They’re more fun to run and to train for,” he noted.
Foodwise, Rocha keeps it very simple before his running workout. “I eat basic oatmeal or a plain bagel with peanut butter, plus a banana and coffee before long runs. I can immediately run after eating this with no ill effects. If I’m only running three-six miles, I don’t eat anything, I just drink a cup of coffee.
Rocha’s tip: “My advice is to find the joy of running. Too many new runners set a goal, achieve it, then quit. Races should not be the goal. They should be part of a joy of running. Also, the point of the journey is not to arrive. For my first seven marathons, all I can remember is the grueling push for a time goal. For the Boston Marathon, I decided I would enjoy the journey and do everything I always wanted to do during the race. I kissed a baby, I petted a dog, I played with a band, I stopped and bought a donut at Dunkin Donuts, and I may or may not have kissed a few Wellesley girls!”
Beyond the physical benefits, running is also good for your mental well being. “Running is my therapy and my sanity,” acknowledged Colorado’s Jill Rothenberg. I’ve been running mostly high-altitude halfs and marathons for over ten years. The trails are my gym. I was part of lacrosse and soccer training in high school and college and my parents and brother ran too. So it was something we all loved. As I go through body changes and mood swings of getting older, running grounds me.”
Rothenberg continued: “I often feel I’m stronger and more fit now than I was in high school! I push myself because I love the feeling of accomplishment at the finish of say, the Pikes Peak Marathon. But it’s also about the journey and all the great runners you meet–many over 50 and into their 70s–and the training through the year to get to that place. We all have so many things to juggle–family, job, friends, etc., but running is what helps me deal with everything else.”
Rothenberg said that there are numerous stories online which illustrated runners over 50 have some of the most competitive times in long distance events. “There are women in their mid 60s who did the Pikes Peak Marathon faster than me. They are my inspiration!”
Rothenberg’s tips: “Take it one step at a time. You’re not 20 anymore so you can’t push yourself too hard. Give yourself goals and slowly increase them, but also challenge yourself. And find a running group.”
Senior Rand sociologist Chloe Bird believes that running after 50 is a great and inexpensive way to improve your fitness and your health. “One of the things that people most appreciate is that when you start exercising, you will sleep better. Good sleep is key to good health and overall well-being. When you sleep, your body and your mind do important restorative work. Sleep better and the world seems like a nicer place. In addition, you get a great sense of accomplishment out of exercising. You release stress and can focus and think more clearly.
Exercise will help your body control your blood sugar, improve your cardiovascular health, and reduce your risk of depression. It is a great coping tool with many, many benefits.”
Vivien Eisenstadt, CEO, founder and chief physical therapist of Vivie Therapy, offered other running-related tips.
“In addition to increasing your physical activity by running, break up longer periods of sitting with walking, stretching or exercise. Those extra steps will help burn calories and stabilize blood sugar. Also, make sure to stretch or ease into the running with a walk first. As we age, our muscles get tighter, so it is imperative to not put extreme forces on cold muscles. That is how they tear. Make stretching a daily habit of injury prevention and be sure to stretch after you run, when the muscles are warmer. Also, when you are not running, work on strength training of your legs and core. Cross training helps your body stay strong to be able to run with more balance and ease. That is another way to avoid injury.
If you can’t get outside, you can always go to the gym and run on a treadmill or a indoor track—but Eisenstadt recommends newbie runners stay away from concrete. “Concrete is the most taxing surface to run on. Running on a treadmill or a track will help preserve your body from the non-giving surface of concrete.
Eisenstadt recommended people wear proper shoes with orthotics. “As we age, our balance tends to decrease as well. Wearing proper footwear and orthotics that support your feet and body weight will help you navigate with greater ease and balance on your run. Running shoes with enough cushion will preserve your knee and hip joints by absorbing the impact that each step has on your body.”
Michelle Goll, Vice-President of The Walking Company added: “Our biomechanics begin to deteriorate with age, and innovative comfort technologies, like the Abeo AEROsystem, which features an air-flow energy return outsole, can help to absorb shock and reduce impact while providing optimal stability as you move.”
The ABEO AEROsystem® has over 60 cushioned Vibram® pillars enhanced by air-flow through the air channel between the heel and forefoot. This provides responsive impact absorption and energy return, as well as a compression molded midsole, which absorbs shock. A cushioned moisture-wicking foam insole with Aegis® antimicrobial shield fights odor. Customers can come into any of the 210+ The Walking Company Stores nationwide to receive a digital footscan, and their in-store comfort experts can help find the perfect fitting running shoe.”
Some reading inspiration:
After being inspired by her dear friend Jordan who often runs marathons with his dad Nicholas, (his mom, Jodi, runs too!) writer Susan Hornik has recently started running. A kundalini yogini, Hornik has lost nine pounds so far. Her ultimate goal: “to run her first 5K marathon this fall! One day at a time!”