It’s never too late to start running! But you need a good running program for seniors – – as described by Harvard Health. Seriously! In fact, being in your senior years might make it an even better reason to get started!
Running is a fantastic form of cardiovascular exercise that has been proven time and time again to help slow down heart damage that results from normal aging.
So, besides getting good running shoes for older runners, get your health checked, take it one step at a time, stay fueled, stay hydrated, recover as hard you train.
Running Program for Seniors (A Quick Guide)
Your running program shouldn’t be based on your age at all. It should be focused primarily on your specific fitness level, which will allow you adequate time to progress in a safe manner without the risk of injury.
1. Get Your Health Checked
Putting together a solid running program after you’re in your sixties can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow along and we’ll show you just how easy it actually is!
Making sure your health is in order is easily the most important part of any exercise program. Note that if you strictly follow the running programs for seniors, running will be safe for most old people.
Be sure to have your doctor perform a health assessment to make sure that starting your new running program is a good idea based on your current health. Safety first, always!
2. Take It One Step at a Time
No pun intended! If you haven’t ran in years, don’t think you’ll just be able to wake up one morning and sign up for a marathon! Instead, go into your new program with realistic expectations, which should be easy since being older means you’re also much wiser (just teasing)!
Running is a very difficult form of exercise, and you’re no longer in your twenties, so don’t be afraid to start off just by simply walking. Taking things slow will ensure that you progress at a safe and comfortable rate, which will help avoid any injuries that will only end up setting you back.
As walking becomes easier, you can begin to alternate between 1 minute of walking and 1 minute of light jogging. When that becomes a breeze, you can increase the intervals further; 2 minutes of walking and 2 minutes of light jogging.
Keep this progression up until you can jog comfortably for a set amount of time (e.g. 20–30 minutes). As your fitness level increases, you’ll eventually be jogging at a faster pace for longer amounts of time just like the pros!
3. Stay Fueled and Stay Hydrated
Nutrition is 80% of the equation when it comes to pushing your body to the limit. When you head out for a run you need to make sure that your body is primed and properly fueled for success.
Eat a light snack — The best form of energy before a run comes in the form of carbohydrates, since they provide you with an immediate yet steady release of energy to fuel you for the duration of your run.
Great food options are things like: fruits (especially bananas), granola bars, and even a slice of toast with peanut butter and jam. Remember to keep it light!
Drink enough water — Drinking water is always important; however it’s especially important to hydrate before and during your run! You lose a tremendous amount of fluids while running via sweat.
You should aim for 250ml–500ml of water about 15–30 minutes prior to running and an additional 100ml–200ml every 15 minutes once your run commences.
4. Recover as Hard as You Train
Running is extremely taxing on the body, especially as you get older. And while you may be excited to run every single day, especially when you initially start your new running program, it’s extremely important to give your body the rest it needs and deserves to allow for sufficient recovery.
Specifically in your first few weeks of running, it’s important to limit your run days to only a few days per week. It’s also advisable to spread your run days out evenly throughout the week, taking a day or two off in between each run which will allow your body and muscles to repair.
Sleep is also an extremely important part of your recovery and will make all the difference in your overall performance. Getting a minimum of 8 hours sleep per day is widely recognized as the sleeping standard, and this becomes even more important during an exercise program.
Additional Related Questions
1. Am I Too Old to Run?
The short answer: It’s never too late to take up running, and by tackling your running program in a smart, progressive manner, you can set yourself up for some major success.
The truth is, there are people in their thirties or forties who already feel like they’re too old for anything — running included. And on the flip side, there are people in their seventies who are out running marathons right now as we speak.
The key things to remember: take it slow, always fuel your body, and allow yourself ample time for rest and recovery. By now it should be clear: You can really start a running program at any age!
So, are you really too old to run? What do you think? Hopefully by outlining some basic running tips, you now have a better understanding of just how easy it is to build a successful running program.
And who knows… after you’ve implemented your own running program, maybe you’ll even get in good enough shape to run a marathon or two!