Chapter 5: Conclusion

Eddie Brocklesby

Eddie Brocklesby

My running club has members aged from 17 to well over 80 years old.  Remarkably, because we share a common interest, there are strong friendships across the years.  We have formed deep and lasting friendships that enrich all our lives. Running transcends all ages.

For young people, it is a gateway to sports of all kinds.  It is an affordable, accessible and safe way to embark on a life of healthy exercise.

There is nothing inevitable about the deterioration in performance that comes as we get older.  With smart training, you can offset or reverse the effects of ageing, and continue to grow and improve as a runner.  Some of my running friends are running marathons well into their seventies.  I hope that I too will have the courage, wisdom and good fortune to go on enjoying running as long as I’m still breathing.

As we get older, running helps to reduce the impact of age on our fitness, strength, mobility and independence.  It can thereby give us many extra years of good quality of life.  George Sheehan, the philosopher of running, wrote this a few years before he died:

“The unfit youth or young adult or even middle aged person can still be independent and enjoy life.  The aging cannot.  The normal loss of physical powers that occurs with inactivity makes fitness a necessity. …

In time, regardless of how we play, we will all depart.  What we must avoid is having our actual leaving precede that departure – to die in effect before we die in truth, to live out our years in a joyless, dependent existence, our body and mind and soul already waiting for us on the other side of the divide.”

14 Responses to Chapter 5: Conclusion

  • Patrick auletto:

    Did anyone ever have meniscus surgery wondering if I will be able to run long term at age 59 does this mean I will need knee replacement.

    • Ed:

      I had meniscus surgery about 5-6 years ago ( I am now 66), I was not able to run for at least 4 months , but today I have to look at the knee ( for small incissions) to see which knee was operated on,today I have no running limitations.

  • 2632:

    I am a woman who had a serious squash injury at age 31, torn ACL and mashed up medial meniscus which was partly removed after a later tennis injury. Because I didn’t take care of it, the knee had serious damage. The joint is enlarged, and it gets fluid in the joint when hiking in hot California weather. Recently I took up running, at age 62, and have been doing 5 miles X 3times per week. The knee does not swell, although sometimes it twinges. I don’t know whether the health benefits of running outweigh the threat to the joint, but so far it is holding up fine.

  • Margaret Lasslett:

    I am so glad I found this site. I have recently turned 64 and want to start running again, I used to run regularly until about 10 years ago and when I stopped the battle of the bulge bagan in earnest. I loved running and still want to get out there. But, as another person has said the running magazines only seem to cater for the young runners, and, I know that I need to take it slower and steadier. It is encouraging to see so many older people defying the numbers and not being put off because someone says they are too old to run. I am encouraged to really give it a red hot go again.

    • Cathy:

      Hi Margaret: I just want to give you a word of encouragement. I run about 2.5 miles every day except Sunday and have been doing so for the last 35 years except when I have been sick ( which hasn’t been often). I ran through three pregnancies up until I went in to labor. I am now 62 years old and have discovered many ways to keep myself fit for running. One of the ways I have done this is by searching for healthy, natural products to build up my body as it ages such as green foods (Barley grass, spirulina, chlorella etc.) I buy these in powder form. They not only feed my body directly with needed nutrients but also balance the body and help keep down cravings. I also take NO medications and haven’t for 40 years. I listen to my body, get plenty of sleep and eat healthy except for my occasional splurge of some sort of junk food. Lastly, I take vitamins. I take pride in saying that I am my own experiment. I am getting older but I have no aches and pains or need for doctors or medications. If I can do it, you can too. You don’t have to run a marathon; just two miles or so a day. Whatever gets you going.

  • gord phillips:

    life has great moments for us…some we can feel the joy and some we know we have to re think our goals…its like we have a frame of a moment…the beauty of running is the black and white of time to grade us on our success…so when I turned 50, I wanted to run a sub 5 minute mile…the clock said 5:04…when i turned 55 I wanted to run a sub 5:30 minute…the clock said 5:28…when I turned 60 I wanted to run a sub 6 minute mile …the clock said 5:58…and so I go forward…I only run the mile once a year but train year round and compete in about a dozen races a year…most days are not race days and I enjoy trail and street racing…
    We really need to do is to SHOUT OUT encouragement to other runners, if someone passes me I say “good pace go get em” or if I see someone running I say “Good Job “…all I give is encouragement, all I get is a smile or a thumbs up saying we are the running community…

  • ihab:

    I’m 49 years male . I used to do inregulare swimming years ago . 2 years ago I bought a bike and add cycling to my sports activities. I never think to run until I decided to participate in 5k race . To me hiting the ground while running is worst compar to cycling and swimming. I did 5k race in 29 min. Later I found doing swimmin, cycling and running are well comination exercise for group of muscles then I start thanking about triathlon race and I just finish sprint distance tri this month.

  • Carol:

    I’m 68 this year & used to run 8minute miles in my 40’s. Now it’s taking me 34mins to run 3miles. How can I improve or am i expecting too much?

  • Michael Biferno:

    I am 68 and train with a Stairmaster combined with moderate weight lifting, road running and treadmill. The machines help reduce impact on joints while enabling me to train on a regular basis unconcerned with weather and helping me focus on adjusting my training load to avoid injury with the easy-hard day approach. Road and hill running insure I can perform when I race. I find the combination has kept me relatively injury free so far… At my age, strains and pains see inevitable, but at least I earned them…

  • I have been running for over 40 years with 80,000 running miles on my feet, enough running miles to take me around planet Earth three times. I had a problem with small tears in my meniscus a few years ago. I stopped running because of the pain. Recently I noticed the pain had disappeared. I started running again and so far no issues. ..I get up at 4 am and run 6 miles at a good pace…I just love it.

  • Mimi:

    I am so happy to have found this site and all of the comments about aging and running. Some are very positive and some not so positive. I am going with the positive. I am considering running again after a break of a number of years. I had a stroke and melanoma cancer 15 years ago of which I am cancer free! I use to love running and I really feel the need to run again. But as time has gone on and I also have gained some weight I have missed it so much! wish me luck! I am going to get started tomorrow on my treadmill. I am 68 years old. Mimi

  • Thanks ever so much for your website.

    My running stopped in the early 1980’s. After running about 10 years, muscles behind my knee became more problematic to the point of debilitation. When I ran I hurt, so I quit. By the late 80’s, I moved to martial arts quit and returned to the same form of martial arts in 1994. After a few years I my desire to help others moved toward training as a massage therapist. I’ve been in the practice of clinical massage for about 5 years now. I have a few clients who are runners. We share our running experiences during sessions.

    Over the past month, I’ve felt the call of the road like I haven’t heard for 30 years. A week ago “the call” overwhelming call was deafening. It woke me from a sound sleep at 4:30 AM with words, “Go for a run!”. Without hesitation, I put on a pair of Columbia brand trail type shoes and ran my first run in years. It was a 10:46 mile. I was amazed how fast my cadence returned! Two days later I went to a local runners store (Fleet Feet in Portland, Maine). After they brought out a few pairs based on what they observed for my stride and foot placement, I walked away with the same brand I ran with 3 decades ago, Brooks. I went home, put them on, and ran my third mile in as many days. I knocked 45 secs off my time. I was thrilled. Yep went back to the store and got a tech shirt and shorts.

    I got some beneficial coaching from a friend (from Good Form Running). I knocked another 34 secs off and yesterday an additional 30 secs. Now, I’m ecstatic! After one week of returning to running I’ve run an 8:56 mile and my blood pressure has dropped to well within normal range.

    Your website and the chapter for older runners has really helped me look at my goals. I’m going to take it easy and have my recover days, so I don’t over do things.

    By the way, thanks to my anatomy and physiology studies in massage school, that pain behind my knee? That’s the popliteus muscle. When IT spasms, it feels about like a combat knife being jabbed behind the knee. I now stretch a little differently and I also had some good advise from an ultra runner who suggested I look at my stride and adjust things if I return to running. He gave that advise a few months ago and was the first person who caused me to entertain thoughts of returning to a favorite sport.

    My other activities include Taiji Quan, Qigong, and Goju Ryo Karate. I’m now 63 years and feeling great. Your site, tools, and articles are great! Keep it up!

  • Jim Smith:

    Glad to find a place where I can communicate with older runners. I am 76 and have running most of my life. I run because it makes me feel like a kid!

  • Dan Marchetti:

    I just turned 76 and want to start running again.
    I have 1 compressed disc and both knees have a little problem.(but I take care of my self pretty good).
    When I ran, I would land on the outside of my feet and rock to the front.
    I wear 14 size, and am 6′ and 185lb.
    What would be the best cushioned running shoe, and how long would it last?

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