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Published on April 03, 2018

woman running in park

#TryItTuesday: Running A 5K When You’re 50?

Every year I write out my goals for the year. One of my long-standing goals – one that never seems to get crossed off – has been to run a 5K. I’m trying to remember the last time I completed a 5K.

Since I can’t remember, that’s telling me it’s been too long.

My 50th birthday is shortly after the Avera Race Against Breast Cancer. Because this year I’m celebrating being a survivor for nine years, I decided that the Avera Race is the perfect event for me to accomplish my running goal.

How about you? Have you ever wanted to run? What’s stopping you? For many in my age group—it’s simply that—age (and not knowing how to start).

Getting started: Although running is safe for many people, it may not be  suitable for everyone. Visit with your health care provider about your physical activity goals and find out if running is a good fit for you.

Decide your method: Do you want to run on the treadmill, at home or in a gym, a local track, park or street, or perhaps the bike trails? Keep the weather in mind if you plan on outside runs. Play it safe and don’t run if your area of choice is icy. Also, when running outdoors, choose areas that are well-lighted and populated for safety's sake.

Select the appropriate training plan: There are several running plans available as you begin your running adventure. My favorites include the plans that alternate walking and running when first starting.

If you have a smartphone, there are several apps with these types of running plans. Another option is to run 1 minute, walk 2 minutes, alternating between the two for 20 to 30 minutes. Each week increase your running time by 10 percent.

Invest in the right equipment: Find a running shoe that offers the proper support and flexibility for your foot. Also, get an ID bracelet or tag for your running shoes. This is a good safety practice for runners of all ages.

Tips for Running in Your 50s and Beyond

  • Start slowly: As we get older, we can lose muscle and may need more time to recover. Make sure to pick a realistic goal and have realistic expectations.
  • Listen to your body: As we age, we may experience slower recovery times. Perhaps run every other day, instead of every day. On the days you don’t run, consider cross-training activities, such as swimming, biking or yoga.
  • Warm up and stretch: This is a super idea for all runners. Spend five minutes before running and another five minutes after you're done to stretch.
  • Have a back-up plan: Don’t let rain, snow or ice stop your running plan.
  • Stay hydrated: Bring water with you, especially if it’s hot and humid, or on days when you're running a longer distance.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Healthy, nutritious food is essential to fuel our bodies. The better the fuel, the better your body performs.
  • Implement strength training: Strength training is beneficial for all runners, but especially for us older runners. As we age, we naturally lose muscle mass, and strength training helps combat that. A few examples of strength training include squats, lunges, planks and push-ups.

Staying motivated

  • Buddy up: Join a local running group, or meet up with a friend or two.
  • Enlist family support: Invite your spouse or child to run with you. And if they aren’t the running type, ask them to be your cheerleaders. Encouraging support will help you keep focused on your goals.
  • Share your runs on social: There’s something fun about sharing your runs on social media. I always find it encouraging when I see others taking care of their health by exercising.
  • Create a “getting pumped” playlist: Music is a great motivator, especially as your runs get longer.
  • Keep a running log or journal: Track your progress; gains can keep you inspired.
  • Reward yourself: While exercising is a gift within itself, it’s often nice to pamper ourselves with a little extra. Massages, pedicures or new running socks are a few ways to indulge yourself, all while keeping you on track.
  • Have a goal: A 5K race is a great starting goal. Once you set your goal, register for the event. If you sign up, you're less likely to chicken out.

Live Better. Live Balanced. Avera.

Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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