John, one of the Fire & Earth therapists, started running many years ago (we aren't allowed to say exactly how many!) and recently celebrated his 50th birthday.
So, whether you are new to running (it's never too late to start), or you have been running for a while but have moved up an age category, here's John's advice for any 'older' runners out there.
Getting older... my advice for 'older' runners
It can be tough to admit that you’re slowing down with age. It does get harder as you get older. But that doesn’t mean that you can't set goals to help motivate you. Just adjust your expectations, pick realistic goals, and be proud that you're still getting out there.
Over the last couple of years I have picked up some injuries that have lead me to having more time off running than ever before. It’s hard to take when running is my main outlet to keep me sane!
Since turning 50 I definitely feel older physically (not mentally!). My recovery takes longer between runs and I just don’t seem to have the same oomph that I once had. Part of the battle is trying not to constantly compare where I am now with where I once was, running 5 times a week, entering races all over the country and smashing out 1.28 half’s and 3.16 full marathons.
2016 was a great year for some new challenges, but boy were they hard! Two marathons in six weeks - Dingle in Ireland was super hilly and four weeks later we tackled a cross-country marathon in Henley-in-Arden. That was hilly too, plus the added obstacles of styles, fences and mud (a lot of mud), oh and don’t forget the orienteering! A year later we completed the Coventry Half and then started training for the 3 Peaks Challenge in August. During the first climb of the challenge I sprained my ankle pretty badly, I managed to finish the whole day, but it hurt like hell afterwards and took me out the game for a good few months.
Mentally, I have struggled with my motivation since then and the darker mornings make it hard to drag yourself out of bed. I prefer to train early doors as it’s then out of the way and I work late so it makes sense. Bring on spring and summer!
Having a race date keeps me on track and gives me the drive to continue, so we are looking at entering the Warwick Half this year, injuries dependent, and already I seem to have improved mentally having this to work towards. It’s not as easy as it used to be but with patience, determination and the fact that I still do enjoy it when I’m out there is all I need to keep me focused. I’m also happy to accept that I am where I am and that times aren’t everything anymore - enjoying myself and staying fit are more important.
My ideal week now involves three or four runs between of between 3-5 miles each, some strength training at the gym and a spin class once a week. Consistency is key and getting that routine in place, because then you start to see results.
All the research now suggests for people over 50 to get at least two strength training sessions in per week with good technique so you build muscle. Losing muscle is something I’ve noticed recently as well.
I’m also paying more attention to my diet, trying to keep the weight down, and fuel my body correctly gets harder as you get older! Having a very physical job with training on top good nutrition becomes essential to stay fit and healthy. I'm reading a great book at the moment about running and diet, ‘Eat and Run’ by Scott Jurek, so do check that out.
Our top ten tips to stay in the running game after 50
Have a training plan and a target - maybe choose an event to keep you focused, whether that's a parkrun or a marathon, it's something to aim for.
Get your mindset right - be realistic - look at where you are now and don’t get hung up on where you were. Stay positive and enjoy the process.
Run with others – join a group, club or run with a friend. There are plenty of local clubs around, including Masseys, Northbrook, Sphinx, Balsall Common, Kenilworth Runners, Earlsdon Running Club to name but few.
Recovery days - it might take a bit longer for your body to bounce back, so schedule in recovery days. Listen to your body - don't run if you don't feel up to it.
Cross-train - days off from running don't have to mean complete rest, they could involve cross training, such as yoga, spinning, swimming or pilates.
Strength training - this is important for runners of all ages, but as you get older it becomes more so. Simple leg and core exercises can make a really difference, stronger muscles can help ease the stress on your joints.
Balance and flexibility - again, balance and flexibility is important for runners of all ages, but as you get older it can help stop you feeling stiff.
Injury prevention - don't ignore any niggles or first signs or injury, but get them checked out sooner rather than later. Massages, foam rollers, stretching, rest days are all important.
Nutrition - your body needs good fuel and requirements will change as you get older.
Check you have the right trainers - get a gait analysis and choose the correct shoes for you. You might find you need to get your gait checked regularly as it can change as you get older. We'd recommend Coventry Runner for gait analysis and trainers - fantastic place and the staff are so knowledgeable.
The reality of what I know I’m supposed to do and what I do sometimes differ but I'm only human. We all slip up and eat the wrong things or miss a training day, the important thing is to let that go and start again tomorrow.