Middle Aged--Beginning Runners

  1. joey365 says:


    I'm female, pushing fifty and have been running since May of this year. I'm signing up for 5Ks to keep myself going and I hope to run a 10K in May. I feel good, but my biggest concern is my knees. Any advice on how to keep my knees strong and healthy? Specific supplements, exercises or stretches you can share with me?

    Appreciate your help, because I don't want anything to stop me!

  2. DerekShaw says:

    54 year old male here, started running at 49½, still getting better at running (6 'halfs' in 2011). The biggest lessons I have learned:

    take it very easy increasing distance. Keep a log of some kind. Recovery from injury takes WAY too long at our age -- avoid getting injured. Running form really, really matters -- get a coach and learn to run properly. Distance first, then speed. Long, slow runs need to be SLOW. A good physiotherapist is worth the expense many times over. Get off the pavement as much as possible. Avoid injury -- did I mention that? Speed comes if you keep working. Vary the workouts -- doing the same route/workout repeatedly will cause you to plateau. Every other month, take a week off, or at least do HALF the distance you did the previous week. Almost all running injuries are self-inflicted, and avoidable (without quitting running).

  3. stomper says:

    What a coincidence, joey365, I am pushing 50 too. :) So you've been running since May-- has it been going okay? You say you feel good, but are worried about your knees. If you're feeling good so far, then maybe you don't have anything to worry about. It could be you run naturally lightly, and aren't the kind of person that tends to hurt themselves.

    I was not one of those people. About 10 years ago I got horrible knee pains that pretty much robbed me of any enjoyment of running. Then I went on this long journey to try to not hurt. Here's my experience:

    1) Exercises from a physical therapist helped a little.
    2) Then I tried learning a more "natural" running form, where you make shorter, faster steps, but do not land on your heel. I recommend this. There are many different schools of natural style running. I learned "chi running" but there are others. That helped a fair amount, pretty much eliminating pain, but did not make running enjoyable-- there was too much technique to remember.
    3) Finally I just went off the deep end and started running barefoot. That is, literally barefoot and not with "barefoot shoes". Though this sounds nutty, going truly barefoot teaches you to be much lighter on your body, and my knees have not bothered me since. And it's been a lot more fun since really there is not that much technique to remember.

    Anyway I don't expect most people to go the barefoot way. Learning a "natural" running style is my recommendation.

    If you are curious about barefooting, be especially cautious about wearing the "barefoot shoes" you may have heard about, since runners without experience tend to keep heel striking in them.

    Good luck!

  4. Spookie says:

    Hi Joey, first off congratulations on the pursuit of your goals. I've just hit 45 and started running (again) about 1.5 years ago.

    To save your knees you may want to consider Trail Running (or Fire Road Running), the impact on your knees is less as dirt and sand tend to give way.

    Shoes that I recommend (my personal experience) are the Nike Lunarglide as they tend to really cushion your foot stomp.

    Also something to consider, get strong on the trails (hill climbing and adjusting to the variable terrain) and your 5 & 10k road (street) runs will be that much easier.

    Make sure to get your rest too!

  5. shanti says:

    I am no expert, but strength training is recommended and dynamic stretching AFTER a run. keep the muscles around the knees strong. squats, lunges, jump squats, calf raises and using the machines at the gym. i am 36 and a year and a half ago started running. i have entered several 5ks and 10ks, even one half marathon. no problems, i keep my exercise diverse and participate in circuit classes at the gym. keep it up.

  6. jpscampbell says:

    Nothing specific, but I'm 40 I've had the ACL on both of mine replaced plus cartilage repairs on both as well. So my knees ache a lot.

    First off, I am not a doctor. but my best advice is to listen to your body... If you're out on a run and your knees start aching (like mine did today) take a break and walk a while. If you start having sharp pains, stop immediately and have someone come pick you up; if it doesn't go away see a Dr.

    The more you treat your body with respect the more you will be able to do.

    The stronger you legs get the more support they will give your knees; because, as I see it, your large muscles are shock absorbers for your body.

    like you I started running again at about the same time, more like July for me. Following this self prescribed advice I have not been sidelined due to my knees. Plantar fascitis, knocked me down about a month ago so I had to take some time off but it wasn't my knees. Since restarting running I have run a trail 5k, 10k, and a Ragnar with no problems with my knees. Hoping to keep it that way:)

  7. janemerr says:

    I have found working out on the stationary bike is very helpfull.

  8. reyvis1947 says:

    I did my first marathon at 56 and walked the first 5 marathons. This November I did my 18th marathon. There is only one piece of advance I know to be true. "If it is not fun, you are going to fast". Good Luck

  9. Yopaige says:

    I agree with stomper. I had pretty much given up on running because of various injuries, though not knee problems. Chi Running has allowed me to run again. Every other sport requires a lot of attention to technique, so it makes sense to pay attention to proper technique and form in running. At 56 I am running better than ever. I am starting to experiment with barefoot running which is actually very similar to Chi Running in form.

  10. joey365 says:

    Thank you all so much for your diverse advice and encouragement! I will take it all into consideration. I know that I need to strength train, stretch more and work on my form. I've also decided to focus more on TIME rather than DISTANCE at this point. I'm taking it real slow with a goal of running an hour by Feb. I'm running a 5k with a group of runners every other Saturday that is good for keeping me going during the cold months. Then I have my first 10k in May. I never dreamed I'd be able to run a 10k, and if this goes well, who knows what's next! I'm reading "Born To Run" right now -- very inspiring! Happy New Year and Happy Running!

  11. littlemissenigma says:

    Hi Joey, how's it going with your 10k training? I have a 10k booked for May too, and I'll be a shade off 67 years of age. I agree with you about training with others as a good element of the running schedule .. although running quietly on my own, early in the morning is really unbeatable as a stress-buster. I do wonder if it's not a popular time with other runners though, because I never see anyone!

  12. Lisa850 says:

    Congrats to all of you! me included...but I still cringe at the *middle age" thing...suppose i better get used to it unless I plan to live until 150 :)

    I too have just started running. I'll be 55 in a few months. I started with the Jeff Galloway run/walk program... I run 5 days a week with gym work mixed in...sometimes yoga, zumba and pilates...I'm now up to 5 miles on my "long" runs...I started in late January...no problems so far, but I'm taking it very slow..focusing on increasing the length of the run and not the time.

    My question to all of you is....besides the health benefits, what was the impetus that got you out and running? For myself, I felt like I was at a point where I've been successful at most things in my life....couldn't find much of a challenge anywhere....so I am tackling that last frontier...challenging myself...mentally/physically. It has been that for me. I will be running a half marathon March 2013 and a couple of 5K's prior to that....and hope to run my first marathon before the end of 2013

    Anyone else have a motivation other than health benefits?

  13. littlemissenigma says:

    Hi Lisa, I was beginning to think that this thread had gone cold, so it's good to see your comment. I like your training schedule, lots of variety there by the looks of it. I like mixing in gym sessions with my running schedule too. Do you make your running sessions different as well, e.g. one day some fartlek, then another do some hill work? What are the 5k's you have lined up, I'm doing the Great South Run in the autumn .. but I must say I'm nervous about tackling a ten miler.
    To answer your question, the impetus that got me out there was having breast cancer when I was in my thirties, so I wanted to do something that had nothing to do with the dreary illness, and everything to do with being happy and energetic .. I trained for and ran the London Marathon in 1988 at the age of 42, not many women doing it in those days! Now, because of other commitments and far too many lapses, my running has been neglected, and I'm desperate to get back upto scratch. I want to have that wonderful heady feeling of another marathon under my belt before I reach the ripe old age of seventy in three years time.
    Believe me, I guarantee that you will love it when you run yours in 2013!

  14. joey365 says:

    I lost the post that I JUST WROTE! I must have hit the wrong button. And now it's bed time for me. I'll try to post another time. I want to answer Lisa's question: "what was the impetus that got you out and running?" And I'll also answer how my 10K training is going. My apologies for not replying sooner.
    btw, last year at this time I couldn't run a mile and today I ran 5!!!
    WooHoo! Feelin' Good!

  15. jasco1938 says:

    I started when I was 35. That was 18 years ago. I've done about 3 5Ks, 20+ 10Ks, 2 1/2 marathons, 4 30Ks, 2 marathons, 5 sprint tri's, 4 olympic tri's, 1 1/2 Ironman tri. Then I burned out,took 2 years off, became alcoholic and gained a bunch of weight. (Up to 243) Now I'm 53, 98 days sober, and starting at the bottom again!

  16. maydd says:

    Lose weight, and the speed will follow - all those folks passing you like you're standing still are doing it primarily through a low BMI. Lower weight also leads to less stress on the joints and a more injury-free time. Monitor those shoes for wear - worn shoes are behind a lot of injuries, better to recycle them too early than too late...

  17. aaronsz says:

    I'm 34 as of two weeks ago, and want to both thank everyone for the tips on avoiding injuries as you age and second the advice on modifying your stride. I had some knee and hip problems a few years ago and found that they were almost entirely caused by heel striking and pushing distance/speed faster than I was ready for. Changing to a mid-foot "shuffle" stride, getting shoes that fit properly, and setting a realistic program have done wonders. Best of all, I actually run a more consistent pace-and dropped pace faster-once I figured that out.

  18. boney13 says:


    New to the site but am the proverbial middle age runner (just turned 50) and have been running for about 1.5 years. I have done 5k up to halfs and am currently training for a 30k in March. I too struggle with injuries (the right hamstring is my current affliction) and have been to physio. Short quick strides have helped along with hip strengthening exercises and a number of stretches. I looking forward to a pain free 2013.

  19. littlemissenigma says:

    Hi and welcome Boney13! That's an unusual distance, 30k, is it a UK race? Well done, and good luck, your experience with the HM's should stand you in good stead. I totally agree with you about stretching, and as my affliction is the dreaded IT band, it is absolutely essential for me.

  20. boney13 says:

    Hello littlemissenigma,

    Thanks for the welcome. The 30K is in Hamilton Ontario(it is called Around the Bay Road Race) at the end of March...it is the oldest road race in North America dating back to 1894....why 30k? I don't know to be honest. Good luck with the IT band (I found the dreaded foam roller worked well on my IT band about a year ago...it's painful though). Happy New Year to all.

  21. joey365 says:

    Hi Boney13, Wow -- I am so impressed with your running! We are pretty similar -- I'll be 50 this year, I began running about a year and a half ago, and yet, my longest run so far is a 10K. As I begin the new year, I'm thinking about what type of runs I want to shoot for because I ran the 10K last May, and basically stopped -- what?! So, I'm doing the 10K again, but this time I will continue and I will run a 10 Miler in the summer or fall (I'm hoping to get into the Twin City 10 Miler in Oct., but it's by lottery) and then a Half in November. Do you know, are there even half-marathons in November? I have got to have clear goals and refuse to wimp out to accomplish this -- and I WILL!!! How is everybody else's running going? Do you have 2013 goals? I'd love to hear them.

  22. NIGLUC says:


    I will turn 48 this year. I have run 3 marathons in the past. I always run but the mileage has not been significant in the last 10 years. The biggist issue as of late was the diagnosis of a thyroid issue --- sluggish Thyroid. I have always been able to control my weight through running but before the diagnosis ---the last few years have been tough. At 5.6 and 180 pounds-with moderate exercise- there is a lot of stress on my joints. No one can even guess I weigh this much as a female. They say it is all muscle LOL.

    Now I have picked up my distances. The wonderful Thyroid pill has given me back some energy as well as a 98.9% gluten free diet also helps with energy reserves.

    I love to run. I usually use Runner Worlds' training schedules which give you a wonderful variation of a workout. I am blessed that I live in a area that is not flat and has four seasons. Winter,Fall and Spring rock with the right temperatures but summers are awful.

    Even though most of my runs are done on my own, joining a running club also is suggested as a running buddy with the same pace can help for those longer distances.

    ENJOY your year!!!



    P.S. I love this tool. It is better then my 2 garmin units that have just recently not worked because of the colder temperatures and battery issues.

  23. FiftyFifty says:

    I turned 50 and started running. I just set up a facebook page called Run Like a Nanna because I have giving it a good go for the last 7 months and am slowly getting there. I don't look anything like the yunguns do. I have done a few races and will be doing a 5 km in March then as a culmination of a learn to run 10k course I will be doing a 10k fun run in June. Goals are good.

  24. tugger says:

    Okay! New to running but like the benefits. I'm 58 and try to keep an easy to moderate pace but sometimes I start out and run out of wind after only about a quarter to a half mile. Other times, I can pick an easy pace and just go for a mile or two and feel great! What gives? Any advice? I stretch before and after, I also do a fairly rigorous workout after my run. Not enough water, wrong kind of food? What gives? Signed, 'Frustrated'

  25. maydd says:

    Hi tugger,

    I used to get that a bit, eventually I put it down to a mild anxiety that I might not be able to complete my circuit without walking (weird phobia #5473442), so I would use the first few minutes of my run to regulate my breathing, concentrate on technique, get into a rhythm and (best of all) clear my mind of all the mundane worries and just be in the moment. Maybe investing in a mp3 player with a nice running track mix will also be great for 'zenning' out, although I find I don't need it these days. The natural sounds and sights and smells, assuming you run in nice places, are sufficient for relaxation.

  26. stomper says:

    tugger, i used to get that. I found that I am a person that takes a long time to warm up. Some things that helped: not eating for 3 hours before running, or doing an *intense* warm-up (like 30 burpees). Alternatively you could just run a bit then walk a bit, run a bit more then walk a bit more. Keep making the running parts longer and after 15 minutes or so you won't need to walk. Maydd's suggestions are great -- my only disagreement with maydd is on the mp3 player... because most popular music is at a tempo (120-140bpm) that encourages slow, heavy footstrikes instead of rapid light ones (180bpm+). If the running is really clicking (and you're in a nice place like maydd said) your senses will be filled just the right amount anyway. Good luck!