by James Hodgins
I recently turned 70, so I asked five fellow 70+ runners why they’re running and what advice they’d give to those taking up the sport.
“Running is a sport for all ages,” Jack Kearns explained. “It doesn’t matter how fast or slow—you’re still being active.”
Jack’s words echo those of Miranda Esmonde-White, author of the New York Times bestseller Aging Backwards. The former Canadian ballet dancer believes by regularly exercising all of our 650 muscles, we are actively reversing the aging process. To quote another book, Born to Run by Chris McDougall: “You don’t stop running because you get old—you get old because you stop running.”
For my running colleagues and I, the concept of “aging backwards” through running is very appealing. Jack, Isaac, Ken, Ray, Tony and I all run out of the Running Room location in Markham, Ontario.
Surprisingly, most of us were over 55 when we started running. The initial motivations were health benefits and/or accompanying a partner or family member.
We started with very short distances and remained dedicated. By setting goals and supporting each other, we’ve consistently achieved superior results. The six of us have completed a total of 277 marathons and 106 half marathons, plus over 300 other distances including triathlons, duathlons, trails and short distances. Jack (78) with two Boston Marathon credits, and Ray (70) with 174 marathons across all 50 USA states, each Canadian province and all seven continents, are examples of exceptional achievements by our group.
In an effort to “age backwards,” the six of us are continuing to run. If you are able, we encourage you to actively look into the many health, emotional and psychological benefits of running. Start now, because it’s never too late.
5 tips to help you run young
- Start now.
“I learned to run at age 68,” says Ken Wat, now 72. “Our group demonstrates that most people can start running at any age.” Maintaining a regular running schedule, eating properly and getting adequate sleep will all contribute to personal improvements over time.
- Join a group.
“If you’re starting to run, a structured group program such as a Running Room training program can be excellent for instruction, encouragement and peer support,” says Tony Schultz. Experienced runners enjoy training together, encouraging each other, and achieving mutual goals.
- Form good habits.
“A key to running success is developing and maintaining good habits,” says Ray Lim. “To achieve anything of significance takes time, commitment, hard work, learning and applying best practices. Running helps you believe in yourself and focus on opportunities even in the face of difficulties or setbacks.”
- Set goals.
Setting goals keeps you focused and motivated. Set small, achievable goals to start. With time, commitment and hard work, you can achieve physical, emotional and psychological benefits that will carry over into other parts of your life. “My present goal is to complete running a marathon on each of the seven continents by age 75,” says Isaac Chung.
- Cross train.
In my experience, regular cross training is beneficial for all runners, especially older runners. You’ll enjoy more flexibility, better balance, increased strength, reduced muscle loss and stronger joints. Our group finds pleasure in many exercises and sports including core exercises, swimming, cycling, yoga, tennis, golf, hockey, skiing, boxing, snow-shoeing, judo, ju jitsu and more.