Running in Your 60s – 10 Great Strategies to Keep You Running Well
Despite common misconceptions, running is a form of exercise that many people enjoy at every age. After 60, you’re probably not winning any 5Ks. But that doesn’t mean running still isn’t a great way to stay fit and healthy. Not only is it great for your heart health, but running improves mobility and an ability to fight off infections. In fact, running is even beneficial for your cognition and memory. While there are many reasons for you to keep running in your 60s, it becomes increasingly important to run smart. With this in mind, the following are 10 great strategies for running well later in life.
- Start Slow, Build Slow
Running in your 60s means taking things a little slower. Starting your runs more gradually at a reduced pace is important for warming up. Likewise, allowing more time to train up to a specific distance is important. This will reduce your risk for injury and make running much more enjoyable.
- Focus on Your Form
Running well later in life also means paying more attention to your form. Adopting a better posture while running can not only improve your performance but also reduce injury risk. If you have questions about your form, check in with a running coach or physical therapist for guidance.
- Stretch Well
Stretching is important after a run at any age. But it is essential for you when running in your 60s. Be sure to stretch well after each and every run to avoid tightness and pain. Likewise, yoga and other activities like Tai Chi can enhance your flexibility and reduce tight muscles and ligaments.
- Cross-train Weekly
Strength training, flexibility training, and other non-running activities should be performed 2 to 3 times each week. These types of cross-training activities will keep you running well by reducing fatigue and injury risk. And they help you perform at your best by slowing normal age-related loss of muscle and bone.
- Hill Running Helps
Running in your 60s doesn’t mean you can’t mix it up a bit. In fact, hill running is actually encouraged with a proper warm-up. With aging, stride length shortens, and you lose some of your faster muscle fibers. But hill work can actually improve your performance in these areas if part of your normal routine.
- Rest and Recover
If you don’t want to be sidelined by injury, you’ll need to plan adequate rest and recovery when running in your 60s. By far, overuse injuries are the most common problems for runners at this age. To ensure you’re running well for a long time, listen to your body and give it adequate time to recover.
- Drink Plenty of Water
As we get older, we have reduced amount of water stores in our bodies. Likewise, thirst centers may not be as robust either. Because of these factors, preventative hydration is strongly recommended as a strategy for running well. Before, during and after your runs, be sure ample water is available.
- Plan a Healthy Diet
Nutrition can help runners at every age, but we become more sensitive to poor eating habits later in life. Likewise, you will need more protein when running in your 60s to offset lower muscle mass. Watching your calories and ensuring key nutrients are included in your diet can also keep you running well longer.
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- Readjust Your Goals
Rather than shooting to be a top finisher, strive to finish tops in your age group. Instead of trying to hit a specific mile pace, perhaps try to run more efficiently. Running in your 60s means stepping back and reassessing what’s important. Running well often means finding more appropriate running goals.
- Bask in the Glow
Finally, take pride in the fact you’re running well in your later life. Running can improve your attitude and boost confidence at any age. But this is certainly true when running in your 60s. Feel free to brag a little…you’ve earned it!
Running Well for a Lifetime
For runners after 60, prevention efforts are among the most important pieces of advice. The 10 strategies described offer key insights about how to avoid injury and optimize your running potential. Running well can occur at any stage of life, but it does require being smart about it. With a few simply changes, you can greatly increase the likelihood you’ll be running for many more years to come.