Image Credit: http://cdn2.blisstree.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/harriette-thompson.jpg
If you think the only recreational sport for ageing individuals is slow-paced Taiji, try telling that to Fauja Singh, the world’s oldest marathon runner. Running is a sport practised by all ages, so don’t let anyone tell you to keep off the track either.
In fact, studies have shown that running can slow down the ageing process more effectively than walking. Experts agree that being physically active as one ages is a good habit, and the science shows that running is a great way for seniors to develop physical fitness. The question is, how can ageing runners cope?
Rest & Recuperation
Being in the prime of youth means recovering faster, hence younger runners are more like to “go hard or go home”. However, the older you get, the more you should rest. This, of course, isn’t about being a Pringles-munching couch potato, but about giving your body the time and resources it needs to rest and recover.
There isn’t an international agreed standard on what constitutes as sufficient rest, though. Instead, you have to listen and pay attention to your body. For instance, if you’re feeling particularly cranky, it could be a sign of insufficient rest.
It’s more important for senior runners to train strength, as resistance training exercises can decrease the chances of injury and prevent age-induced muscle loss. Ankle and lower leg muscles tend to age faster than other body muscles, as the muscles’ repair mechanisms weaken earlier. Thus, Achilles’ tendon and calf injuries tend to get more frequent. To avoid these, you can consider strengthening the calf and ankle flexor muscles. Another reason not to skip leg day!
Perhaps you’re a middle-ager reading this and you’re thinking about getting started to run as a hobby. Well, it shouldn’t matter if all your life you’ve only run for the MRT or bus. As the saying goes, it’s never too late, unless you’ve already resigned yourself to a sedentary lifestyle of drama-marathons.
A great running outfit and a can-do attitude aside, the last thing to check off your list is getting the green light from your doctor, especially if you have health conditions like heart disease. This way, you know what warning signs to note.
Also, stretching is especially important, as muscle elasticity declines as you grow older. If you encounter other runners speed past you, don’t get caught up in the national kiasu spirit – instead, ease your pace.
Lastly, manage your personal expectations. You may feel pressured to be as fast and furious as you were in your 20s, but unrealistic expectations may lead to disappointment, demoralisation or even injury. Slow and steady may not win you the race in this context, but it gets you home in one piece. Different routines and goals work for different individuals.
“Experts agree that being physically active as one ages is a good habit, and studies have shown that running is a great way for seniors to develop physical fitness. The question is, how can ageing runners cope?”
Now that you’re equipped with some advice on how an ageing runner can cope, you can enjoy your athletic recreations well into your 80s and onwards. For all you know, your future grandkids could honestly boast, “My grandpa/grandma can run better than you!”
Do you like what you read?
Tell us below or through our contact form. We love to hear from you.
Also, have you registered as a member on LIV3LY yet?
Don’t know what’re the benefits? Fret not. Find out here.