10 Tips To Returning To Running In Midlife

fitness goal setting healthy living mental health midlife athlete Sep 12, 2021

I don’t love running. What I do love is how I feel after I run.

I love that my heart feels strong.

I love that even though I have cellulite on my legs they have the strength to knock out 13 miles if I ask them to.

I don’t love running, but I do love why I run . . .

RUNNING  >>> I get it. It's a great source of cardio (duh) and a wonderful form of meditation (if you can get out of your own head), but I'm not going to lie - it's not my favorite form of fitness!

I do it because it challenges my body and I love being outside. But that's not why I started running. Running literally saved my marriage . . .

I've told this story before - I started running with my husband pretty much as a form of inexpensive couple's therapy.

Go back to 2009 - I was overweight (like really overweight), I was still lingering in a state of postpartum depression from having our youngest, the economy was crap; we had lost our construction business and our house had been foreclosed on! Yup, we were living the dream.

Take all of that into account and well, we really weren't in a good place. I was checked out, my husband was struggling to keep it all together, and our marriage had hit a rough patch . . . well really it sank into the abyss for a bit.

So we decided to run (I know, very Forrest Gump of us).

My hubby was a huge runner at the time - like he loves it (I think it's a sickness that has no cure ), me? Not so much. But I knew it was something we can do together and that gave running a WHY.

And so here I am, 13 years later - and one of our favorite things to do together is run races and compete in running events - whether its a 5k, a 200 mile relay, a Spartan-type event, or a crazy Stadium Dash, ultimately the goal is to just be together!

Maybe it's not about running for you ~ just maybe it's your WHY!

The past two years I've taken a little hiatus from running . . . well basically since Covid hit, but last fall I knew it was time to dust off the old running shoes.

Runner’s World advises that if you've stopped running for up to 10 days: restart by running  70% of your previous mileage.

If you've been off 15 to 30 days: Start running 60% of your previous mileage.

If it's 30 days to 3 months: Start running 50% of your previous mileage.

And if you're like me and off 3 months or more . . . Start from scratch.

This is exactly why I started ~ with a simple 5k training plan. 

I promise it’s never too late to get started, to get back into it, or to improve your running training . It may not look the same as it did in your 20s or 30s but that’s okay, remember, you’re like a fine wine sis . . . you keep getting better with age.

So if you are thinking about getting back into running or you just simply want to start running  . . . here are my top 10 tips to returning to (or to start) running in midlife

Take Your Time and Start Off Slow! There is no rush to jump right into some hard core training plan. Allow your body the time it needs to get introduced (or reintroduced) to running.

Even if you were a runner before, it’s okay to start back at Point A. This will help to make sure you stay injury free and allow you adequate time to get your body back to where it was before.

I recommend using a run/walk or Couch to 5k program to provide you an easy guide to follow. 

(*If you are not sure where to start, I’ve got a 30-day running challenge to get you going, just email me and I’ll send it to you!) 

Don’t Skip the Warm Up. Sis, you aren’t 25 any more. Long gone are the days that you can spring out of bed, strap on your shoes, and head out the door. It’s important at this age that you take time to warm up!! A proper warm up will help you avoid injuries and also with a faster recovery.

Your warm up doesn’t have to be super time consuming. I encourage my clients to take between 5-10 minute to stretch and loosen up the muscles and start their run with a nice brisk walk or a light jog before jumping right in.

Plan for Recovery. When I say recovery I mean (1) a proper cool down at the end of your run, and (2) days off!! Both are important for any level runner, but especially newer runners.

Take a few minutes at the end of your run to catch your breath, stretch your legs, and allow your heartbeat to return to normal. This will help speed up your overall recovery time.

Remember the good old days when you could run every day? Well most of us aren’t there anymore. Rest days are important at our age. I suggest running every other day and including 3-4 "rest days" in your weekly plan. Those rest days should be a mix of complete rest, activity recovery like yoga or stretching, and cross training days for strength training!

Speaking of . . .

Runners Need Strength Training Days. Whether you’re working with body weight, free weights, or weight machines at the gym, cross training is going to help you set yourself up with a program that is going to keep you strong, increase your strength and endurance, and keep you stay injury-free.

Strength training is especially important for midlife women as we begin to lose muscle mass faster and our metabolism slows down. Strength training also helps build a strong core, which will also benefit your running form.

Add Flexibility Training to Your Weekly Program. I’m constantly reminding my personal training clients about the importance of balance and flexibility as you age. The more you stretch, the less likely you are to fall as you get older, which is good. Falls are typically what lead to other major health problems in the elderly.

Yes, I know 45-50 is nowhere near “elderly”, but a solid fitness and stretching habit now will make it more likely that you stay fit later in life… like into your 70s and beyond.

As I mentioned above, you’ll want to include dynamic stretching to your routine. This is a great way to warm-up, but also helps keep you limber.

Learn How to Run. Running is actually not as natural as we think it is. Remember the episode on Friends where Phoebe and Rachel go running and Phoebe takes off running like a child at recess? There really is a secret sauce to running and it starts with good form.

Proper running form is important for anyone, but it’s a must for runners 40 and older. Maintaining good form will help you stay injury-free and will also help running feel more comfortably.

Key concepts to remember include: relaxing your shoulders, keeping a nice, tall posture, keeping your head up, looking forward, keeping your hands loose and your arms at waist level.

Your hips should be over your mid-foot, shoulders over hips, and head over shoulders. This form will improve your running efficiency and help you use less energy. That translates to better pace and endurance.

If you are completely new to running, I’d encourage you to seek out a running coach. Check your local shoe and running supply shop for running groups led by a coach. They are not only a great way to get started right, but you'll have an awesome community of runners cheering you on and keeping you accountable to your health goals!! It’s a win~win!!

Take Advantage of Runners' Benefits. No, there is no special gold card that gives you discounts at the local coffee shop, but there are a lot of health benefits that come with running.

Besides being a great source of cardio and weight loss, running can also help you relieve stress, provides an opportunity to catch up with friends, and allows you the joy of cashing in on those endorphins from your runner’s high.

Running (well any fitness) will help you sleep better at night and make you feel better about yourself just because you got out there and did it even if you didn’t want to.

If you find yourself tempted to forego a run, just remind yourself that even a mile will make you feel better, and that’s less than 15 minutes. Surely you can spend 15 minutes on making yourself feel better!

Running is All About Your Personal Best! I say it all the time, comparison is the biggest kill joy!

It doesn’t matter if you’re comparing yourself to other people (younger or older than you) or your younger self.

Instead of focusing on your past running life, focus on the present and doing the best that you can right now. Don’t compare yourself to people who have been running longer or who are younger than you. Take this opportunity to focus on all the great things running is doing for your mental and physical health. Maybe it’s helping to increase your energy levels, decrease your brain fog, or helping you lose a few pounds. Or maybe it’s helping build back your self confidence, your belief in your ability to do hard things, or just a simple way to connect with your partner or BFF. Focus on the good, not others!

Celebrate Your New Healthy Habit! If you run, not matter how slow or fast, you my friend are a runner so start thinking of yourself as a runner and start making running part of your routine.

Because you’re over 40, you’ve probably got a mile long to-do list, make sure to take the right steps to ensure that running doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.

Take the time to schedule and prioritize your runs.

Keep your running gear placed where you’ll see it as a reminder to get your body moving!

Speaking of running gear . . .

Don’t Get Crazy Buying All the Gear!! One of the things I love about running >> it’s cheap!! (Well once you’ve purchased a good pair of shoes.) You can do it anywhere without an expensive membership fee!!

Good running clothes are cute and fun and also a great way to stay comfortable, but I promise you don’t have to spend a ton of money on good running shorts!

Fun Accessories like a GPS/smart watch, hydration belt, cute tanks and tees, colorful socks . . . you get it . . . are all great but by no means are they required to get out there and get in a good workout.

Start with small purchases and as your habit builds then invest in yourself little by little.

>>> Here’s the thing sis, it might be a little more challenging to start running when you’re 45 or older, but it’s 100% doable if you start slow.

Remember to be kind to yourself and give yourself a little grace as you're building your progress.

You got this! And please message me if you have any questions about getting started, exercises that help runners, how to stay injury free, gear recommendations, or you just want to chat about goal setting!

And know that I’m here for you ~ ready to give you a big high five at the finish line!


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