Showing posts with label aging and running. Show all posts
Showing posts with label aging and running. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

9 Things No One Tells Runners About Menopause

No matter how much we wish we could avoid it, no woman gets out of this life without going through menopause. The average age for menopause is 51. Perimenopause, that fun period of time when things start happening, can begin 10 years before that. Cue Tammy Wynette singing "Sometimes it's hard to be a woman..."

While perimenopause was like being an adolescent all over again--mood swings, hot flashes, acne, and heavy periods--I did some of my best running during those years. Who PRs a marathon and a half marathon in their early 50s? I did. I was running so well that I thought I'd be able to snag a BQ!

Yeah, not so much. My body had other ideas.  Here are 9 things I've learned about running with menopause. It's time to talk about it.



Tuesday, January 30, 2018

I Have Found the Fountain of Youth and It's In The Weight Room

A few weeks ago, I had lunch with a runner friend of mine, another woman who happens to be in my age group. We were talking about how much we are struggling with running paces that just a few years ago were easy for us. Getting older sucks for runners, especially women runners. The number of finishers in the women's' 50+ age groups drops dramatically, especially after age 55.

It is a well-known fact that endurance begins to decline after age 40 for both men and women. Stride length and speed decrease as well (source). Flexibility also decreases. But most importantly, muscle mass and strength decline. Women lose up to 30% of overall strength between the ages of 50 and 70. For women, decreases in estrogen and testosterone after menopause affects the ability to maintain muscle mass.

What if I don't want to slow down? What's an aging woman runner to do? Besides giving up on running? Is rocking in the rocking chair an endurance activity?

I refuse to accept the common wisdom that equates growing older with frailty and weakness. I'm not ready to call it quits and if you're reading this, you probably aren't ready to call it quits either. The good news is you can keep running into old age and maybe postpone or at least minimize some of the inevitable effects of aging. But you do have to change the way you train. Put on your running shoes and head to the weight room. Yep, strength training is the key to staying youthful.



Friday, September 22, 2017

5 Reasons Being an Older Runner Doesn't Suck

But I don't feel old...

Yesterday, I turned 55. Over the past couple of years, I've struggled mentally with the concept of aging. Turning 50 really was difficult for me, until I turned my 50s upside down, modifying my training, setting new race PRs, and showing myself that age really is just a number. I don't feel like I'm 55 and I don't think or act like a typical 55 year old. If that makes me immature, then sign me up! Apparently, I'm not alone because I've found a peer group of women runners who think and act like I do.

Being an older runner doesn't suck. In fact, it's pretty darned awesome.



Friday, July 21, 2017

5 Nuggets of Wisdom from Kathrine Switzer

I'm still basking in the glow of last weekend's race and meeting Kathrine Switzer. If you haven't read her book, Marathon Woman, I highly recommend you pick it up. Truly one of the best running books I've read, it's written so well that it's like talking with her in person. Kathrine has had an amazing life and until I read it, I didn't realize all that she's accomplished or what she has done for women's sports. While writing this post, I learned that she was recently inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame. I can't think of a better role model for women runners--or just women in general.

Meeting her was this runner's dream come true. Talking with her was like talking with an old friend. She's so easy to talk to! During the brief time we were together, I shared a lot about myself and my dreams. Besides chatting about running, Kathrine shared some wisdom with me. I was a sponge and soaked it all in.



Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks

One of the things I fear most about getting older is being afraid to try new things.

You hear this a lot. Change is hard. The whole comfort zone thing.

One of my really good friends got a new car this year. Her previous car was 20+ years old. When I saw her new car, I was stunned. A Cadillac? Isn't that something our grandparents drove? Are we that old? But that isn't what bothered her. For her, the hardest part was getting used to all the technology. She didn't know how to work all the gadgets. She wanted her old car. It was comfortable. It was easy to operate. This new car "beeped at her", she said. She "hated it".

How did this happen? My fearless friend, afraid of a car?

It's funny, because, in my job as a pediatric nurse practitioner, the kids I see all have no fear. They bang on my computer. Grab the otoscope off the wall and play doctor. Operate their parents' phone like a tech expert.

What happens as we get older? How do we prevent ourselves from becoming fearful of new things, new experiences?


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A LIfe Without Running...

Imagine if you will, a life without running.

Maybe you can.

I've given it some thought. I've had a tough go of it this summer. I've finally conceded to this relentless PF and pulled back on my mileage and my pacing. By doing so, I've lost a lot of fitness. Combine that with the heat and humidity of summer and my runs have been really tough.

I miss those easy 8-10 milers that I normally run on the weekends.

I miss the fast paced 5-6 milers I bust out during the week.

I miss training for a race.

Right now, I'm happy if I can finish 4 miles without stopping to walk.

I blame the weather and PF but is there more contributing to my problems with running?

Is this the inevitable slowdown that comes with aging? Can I accept that? Should I just hang up my shoes?


People do stop running as they get older. The proof is in the numbers. When I moved from the 45-49 age group into my current old lady group, the drop in the number of participants was dramatic. Arthritis happens. All that wear and tear on the joints takes a toll.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Are You Brave Enough?

Brave? Who me?

I've never considered myself to be brave. In fact, most of my life I've suffered from anxiety and a lack of confidence. I know that probably comes as a surprise to most of you who read my blog. All those races I run? It has taken an enormous amount to mental energy to push myself to the starting line of most of them. But I realized early on that if I wanted to live life to the very fullest, I would need to put on a brave face and push myself out of my comfort zone, both on the road and off.

It hasn't always been easy but yes, it has always been worth it.

Are You Brave Enough?

In 2014, I won a free entry to the Chicago Marathon and made up my mind to redeem myself from my disappointing first attempt in 2011. Yes, I was so demoralized by that race that it took me 3 years to get up the courage to try again. Would I have done it if I hadn't won the entry? Who knows. But I took it as a sign that it was a chance to put on my big girl running pants and conquer the beast that had been haunting me. To run the race I knew I had in me. My friend Marcia kept telling me that I had "unfinished business".

Indeed.

Prior to my 2015 Chicago Marathon, I received an unexpected gift from a Facebook friend, Teresa. The shirt, from Fellow Flowers, had "rockstar" printed across the front. Of course, I loved it. But it was the magnet that came with the shirt spoke to me:

Are You Brave Enough?
http://fellow-flowers.myshopify.com/collections/apparel
Are you brave enough to conquer your demons? Are you brave enough to leave your comfort zone? Are you brave enough to chase your dreams? Are you ready for change?

Maybe it's the middle age talking, but I have a lot of things on my bucket list yet to be accomplished. Some are running related, some not. I'm at this point in my life where a lot of my friends and yes, my husband, are becoming content. Complacent.

I'm not there yet.

There's an expectation that with middle age comes an eventual slowing down.

Who me? Slow down?

Am I brave enough to push beyond expectations?

There are a lot of runners out there who will tell you running changed their lives. I am one of them. Crossing the finish lines of the many long distance races I've run has given me confidence, kept my anxiety at bay, and pushed me beyond expectations.

And yes, I've become brave.

Brave enough to push my pace hard to PRs and AG awards.

Brave enough to swallow my pride and enlist the services of a badass, tough as nails CrossFit coach.

Brave enough to take up cycling and yep, those dreaded clip-in pedals. Because we all know what a clutz I am. But I like to go fast. So I had to be brave.

Brave enough to push forward with this marathon training cycle, even with minimal road time and maximal cross training.

Brave enough to push outside of my comfort zone. So many times. You know what? Nothing great happens there.

And scared to stop being brave. Because what will happen when I do?

I love that I can do hard things. I love that in spite of not being able to run as much as I want to right now, I can transfer that level of fitness to other activities like cycling and pool running. I love that I can lift heavy things. More than anything,  I love that I'm crushing expectations. I'm getting stronger and I'm getting faster.

I've become brave. Both on the road and off. Because for me, it always comes back to running. Running has made me brave. Running makes me push my limits and define who I am.

Don't let the way others see you define who you are.

Be brave. Leave the comfort zone. And let it change the way you see yourself.

Are you brave? 

I'm linking up with DebRuns for Wednesday Word. Today's word is brave. Check out what everyone else is saying about the word brave!







Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Wellness through the years #WellnessThatFitsYou

What does wellness meant to you?


What does wellness meant to you?

Over the years, the meaning of wellness has changed for me.

In my 20s, wellness meant looking good in a bikini. Bouncing back quickly from a night of partying. Never much of an athlete, I started running 5ks and 10ks. Battling anxiety, I began to learn that I could gain a lot more than physical fitness from my new pursuit of wellness.

In my 30s, I became a mom to 2 boys. Wellness took on a whole new meaning. Not only did I want to regain my pre-pregnancy fitness, I wanted to stay mentally fit. Less concerned about body image, I learned that running could bring me that calm I needed to face the day. My runs were a priority. I ran before the sun came up to get it done. A new activity, yoga brought serenity and recovery. I made time for wellness. Hey, if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy, right?

In my 40s, wellness meant tackling middle age head on. The goal was to be able to keep up with my growing boys. I didn't want to be one of those moms who sat on the sidelines, watching her kids having fun. I upped the ante on the road, running half marathons and my first full marathon. Those long distances became an addiction and a prescription for the stresses of raising preteens. With the increased pursuit of wellness came a natural transition to healthier eating.

Now in my 50s, my wellness has taken on an even greater priority. This mom of teenage boys does it for herself. Besides yoga and running, I've been strength training with a CrossFit coach. I am running at paces besting those I hit in my 30s. I joke that I've found the fountain of youth. But really, it's no joke. With smart training, I plan to continue to challenge the conventional wisdom that older women can't compete. The past 3 years have left me amazed at what my body is capable of. Mentally, I have been challenged with teenage drama and life stresses, but I draw on my strength as a runner and a yogi to navigate those challenges.

Wellness. Joy. Strength. Energy.
So today, what does wellness mean to me?
-Wellness means lining up at the start of a race ready to run and be competitive in my age group.
-Wellness means taking up new challenges on the run.
-Wellness means enjoying an ice cream cone and not worrying about the calories.
-Wellness means keeping up with my sons.
-Wellness means still being able to get up on one waterski and slalom my way across the lake.
-Wellness means getting up into a headstand and not worrying that the fall to the ground will hurt me.
-Wellness means a good night's sleep.
-Wellness means staying strong in the face of life stressors.
-Wellness means loving my body for how it looks and all it can do.
-Wellness means finding joy in the journey.

Wellness is my biggest motivator for staying fit. Wellness gets me out the door. Wellness makes me run. Wellness makes me ride. Wellness makes me strong.

Wellness lets me breathe.

What does wellness mean to you?

I'm submitting this post for an entry to win a week at Wellfit Malibu. The contest is sponsored by Run to the Finish, The Healthy Maven, and Fit Foodie Finds. Wouldn't this fit nicely in my year of destination races? Ok, it's not a race, but it's all about wellness and health. Hey, a runner's got to recover, right?







Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Less is more: Quality race training

Streaking, setting mileage goals...those posts are filling my Facebook feed these days. Kara Goucher challenged followers to run 2016 miles in 2016. Her husband Adam is sponsoring the challenge on his Run This Year website. You can sign up for $25 and complete the challenge solo or as part of a team with 1 or 2 other runners. 2016 miles? That's a heck of a lot of miles for the average runner.



I've already posted about why I won't be streaking. And this year, I won't be setting any mileage goals. In 2015, I set a goal to run 2015 kms, which is 1252 miles. On December 31, I completed that goal, which is the most miles that I have ever run in a year. After that, I took 2 weeks off to let my body recover.


That mileage goal of 1252 miles in a year was harder than you might think. I'm a recreational runner, a nurse practitioner who works full time, and a married mom of 2 teenage boys who runs a few half marathons and maybe one marathon per year. I have a full life outside of running. I run for stress relief and health. My average weekly mileage is between 20-25 miles. My highest weekly mileage during marathon training was 38 miles. I simply can't do more than that without risking injury.

In the past, I've gotten some flack for my low mileage marathon training. Common wisdom for runners is that to run fast, you have to run far. According to an article by Matt Fitzgerald in Competitor magazine, "the more we run, the better we race". Makes sense. But he also says that there is a point where too much training leads to injury. The key, it seems, is to know where your limit is.

For me, that limit is pretty low. I'm ok with that. I've been running for 25 years, and there are a lot of miles on these legs. I'm grateful to still be running and at paces that make me competitive in my age group. But when I train for a race, I try to make every run a quality run. So for those 4 runs I do in a week, each one has a purpose. There's a long slow distance run, speedwork, and 2 short-mid distance runs at race pace.

My marathon training plans capped the long run at 18 miles. What, no 20 mile run? Yep, I heard plenty about that from other runners. Bring it on! There's nothing magical about that 20 mile run. Legendary running coach Jack Daniels sums it up nicely:
"Don't worry that you won't be able to complete a 4:30 marathon if you have never run beyond two and a half hours in training. In fact, it is not necessary to train at such a high percentage of your race distance no matter what the course."--Jack Daniels
Remember too, I'm not only running during marathon training. There's cross training in the form of cycling and those HIIT workouts that Becky has me do. Some weight training as well, and yoga to stretch me out. The naysayers are going to naysay.

This is marathon training.
I read a funny quote in an article about CrossFit Endurance attributed to Jay Johnson, a former track coach from the University of Colorado regarding CFE: "No Kenyan has ever seen a kettlebell."

This non-Kenyan sees a lot of kettlebell.
Most likely not. But I'm not a Kenyan. That's a whole different genetic makeup. Have you ever really looked at the runners around you at a race? Unless you line up in the front of the pack, most of the runners are made up of all shapes and sizes. Not a Kenyan amongst us in the middle or the back of the pack. Since the majority of us are not genetically gifted like an elite runner, we need to ask ourselves, why are we training like elites? Why not cross train? Why not run for time instead of distance? What about running quality miles instead of massive quantities of miles? Why risk injury?

What about "junk miles"? Laura at This Runners Recipes sums this up nicely. A lot of runners run "junk" miles. I do too, especially when I'm not training for something. Sometimes it's nice to "just run" without a goal in mind. There's still that love of running, and those "junk" runs are all about that. We all need those runs. But in a low mileage training plan, there isn't room for junk miles. Adding in a run just to run is increasing your chance for injury. That includes streaking.

I'm not saying you should do CrossFit Endurance to train for a marathon. In fact, my coach Becky, who is a CrossFit coach instructed me NOT to read the book. But what she has me do is a happy medium of some of the components of CrossFit incorporated with smart running. For me, this has kept me mostly injury free (I'm currently battling PF) and running at paces I haven't seen since my 30s. Her approach is all about quality workouts. The proof is in my finish times.

Besides, this training is fun!

Fun for my coach too!
You know my motto, everything in moderation. So that's why you won't see me streaking or chasing a high mileage goal. I love to run. I love to race. I like to have fun. And I don't like to DNS.

I'll see you at the starting line of Big Sur.

Do you run a high mileage plan to train for a big race? Do you incorporate cross training into you race training? What do you consider a quality training plan?

I'm linking this post up with DebRuns for Wednesday Word, which is quality!







Thursday, April 2, 2015

Late bloomer

Today I had a speed work session that astonished me.

Stunned. And it's pouring behind me.
After waking up to a gray, rainy, dreary morning, the last thing I felt like doing was running fast. I felt more like crawling back under the covers and snuggling with my dog. But a mantra stuck in my head as I drove to the 2 mile loop at the retention pond where I do a lot of training. I read a statement on Runner's World (and for the life of me, I can't find the link) that said something like you have to run uncomfortable to run faster. So besides training us to run faster, speed work teaches runners to push out of their comfort zone. Similar to those really tough CrossFit workouts that Becky has me do.

I thought about that a lot when I ran my mile splits this morning. I had my Garmin set on pace, and as I glanced down at my watch during my splits, I saw that 7:30 split and tried to hold back. By 3/4 mile into each split, I was breathing really hard and starting to feel pretty uncomfortable. But I had that little rest period waiting for me at the mile mark, so I pushed ahead each time. Stopped to walk for about a minute, catch my breath, and let my heart rate come back down before pushing onto the next mile.

During mile 4, it started to rain again and I heard a huge clap of thunder. Ok then! Let's go! And I did, finishing that split at 7:36, the exact same time as mile 3. Thrilled to have negative splits, and consistent splits, I walked back to my car in the pouring rain, smiling and pumping my fist. I'm sure the people in their cars, who were waiting for the rain to pass, thought I was a complete lunatic.



Am I crazy?

I talk about the age thing a lot. I'm 52 years old. Everyone keeps saying "age is just a number". But you just try and get your head around it. This is the fastest and the strongest that I have ever run. I keep expecting the "inevitable decline" and it's not happening. I go to the doctor for my annual checkup and they don't know what to do with me, except to tell me they don't have many patients like me.

Who peaks in their 50s?


Apparently a lot of "late bloomers" like me. According to this article in Competitor magazine, Tim Noakes notes that most of the best runners after age 45 were late starters, runners who started in their late 20s and 30s. Elite runners tend not to run faster into old age, and some of this is due to cummulative high mileage. Experts recommend older runners utilize a low mileage training plan with cross training to preserve those muscles.

Ok, so I'm doing that. But how long can I keep this up? Will menopause change things for me? A few years ago, a woman came up to me after yoga and told me once I go through menopause, I won't be able to run anymore. Waa waa, Debbie Downer, I know that's not true--look at Kathy Martin, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Christine Kennedy, Sharon Vos, Margaret Webb...to name a few. These ladies are all still blazingly fast. And while I'm not even comparing myself to them, it's helpful to see that there are women still out there getting it done and in impressive fashion, too!


The key to all this, I think, is to keep moving. Run 4 days/week. Strength training. Yoga. All the stuff I do.

Because what is it that Tom Petty says? "If you don't run, you rust..." lyrics from Big Weekend

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I'm just thinking out loud with Amanda Running with Spoons! Be sure to check out the other blogs to see what everyone else is thinking about...







And with Jill Conyers' Fitness Friday!