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Running is a great way to stay in shape. But as we grow older, we naturally lose strength, flexibility, and bone density. This leads to many older adults questioning how to start running at 50-years-old.
In general, healthy 50-year-olds can start running by maintaining a manageable pace for 15-30 mins 3 times a week. Then, as you get comfortable with running, you can gradually increase your pace and your exercise duration. Make sure to perform recovery exercises post-run to prevent muscle soreness.
Ahead, I will give you 10 helpful times to start running even in your 50s. Plus, we will answer some relevant questions about running for older adults as well as the benefits of running.
10 Tips To Start Running at 50 Years Old
#1 Consult With Your Physician First
If you have any underlying conditions, it is very important to consult with your physician before starting any type of physical activity, especially if you haven’t been active in a while.
This is to make sure that you don’t have any underlying health conditions that could be made worse by strenuous physical activity.
#2 Invest In a Proper Gear
Investing in proper gear is also one of the most important things you can do when you want to start running regardless of your age.
This means getting a good pair of shoes that are designed for running, and not just any sneakers. The ideal shoe for older individuals is one with softer cushioning to help reduce the impact that your body takes. An example of this kind of shoe is the Brooks Glycerin.
I have created a list of the best running shoes for daily training which fits the needs of older runners. If you’re unsure which shoe you should use, you can check that out.
Aside from running shoes, you should also get some comfortable clothes that are breathable, will wick away sweat, and won’t chafe your skin.
#3 Keep The Intensity Low
Don’t try to do too much too soon when you start running at 50 years old. Start at a low intensity that you can hold for 15-30 mins and do it for at least 3 months.
What we’re doing here is we’re building the base of your cardiovascular fitness which is your aerobic capacity.
But how, exactly, do you determine low intensity?
If you have a heart rate monitor or a fitness tracker, you can use the heart rate (bpm) to objectively determine that low intensity.
Using the Maffetone formula (180 bpm minus age), you will have a basis on how intense your run should be.
At 50-years-old, you’ll be maintaining 130 bpm for at least 30 mins.
#4 Join a Running Group or Find a Running Partner
One of the best ways to stay motivated when starting to run at 50 years old is to find a running group or partner.
There are often free groups you can join, or you can look for someone in your neighborhood or online. Having someone to run with will make it more enjoyable and likely that you’ll stick with it.
In addition, it’s also a lot safer when your run in groups.
#5 Set Some Goals
Another great way to stay motivated when starting to run at 50 years old is to set some goals.
This can be anything from running a 5K race to simply being able to run for 30 minutes straight. Having a goal to work towards will help you stay on track and motivated.
And while you’re at it, track your progress by logging your total duration, pace, and distance.
It’s a lot easier to improve what you can measure.
#6 Focus on Recovery
Recovery is important at any age, but it’s especially important when you start running at 50 years old.
Related post: Should You Stretch Before Or After Running?
# 7 Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy diet is important at any age, but it’s especially important when you start running at 50 years old.
This means eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. Eating a healthy diet will help your body recover from runs and be able to handle the demands of running.
#8 Focus on Duration, Not Distance
When you’re a beginner, it’s easier to focus on the total duration rather than the distance.
That way, you are forced to maintain a manageable intensity that you can hold for a certain duration.
You can start by running for 15 minutes a day on alternate days.
Then, as you get comfortable running for 15 mins, you can gradually increase your running duration until you are able to run for a total of at least 150 minutes a week.
#9 Add a Strength Program
Having strong muscles will not only help you become a better runner but also help you prevent injuries associated with running.
The key areas to focus on are the:
- Core muscles
I recommend adding strength training at least 3 times a week.
Also, there’s no need to be fancy about it. If you have access to gym equipment, great, if not, there are lots of exercises you can do at home.
#10 Spend Time for Mobility
Aside from strengthening exercises, it’s also a good idea to work on your mobility to allow a full range of motion.
If you want to get all-in-one access to strength, mobility, and stability exercises specifically for runners, you can check out the Glute Kickstarter Program for runners.
Is It Too Late To Start Running at 50 Years Old?
No, it’s not too late to start running at 50 years old. You just have to start and gradually increase just like everyone else.
However, there are a few things that might be different at fifty compared to when you were young.
Firstly, you might get tired quicker, and secondly, you might recover a bit later so you’re going to have to reduce the frequency and intensity of your runs depending on your current level of fitness.
How Many Miles Should a 50-Year-Old Run a Week?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It depends on your current fitness level, how much you’re able to run, and your goals.
A good goal for a 50-year-old who is starting to run would be to run 10 to 15 miles per week broken into 2 to 4 miles per run. That is the estimated distance you’ll be able to cover if you run for 30 mins a day 3 to 5 times a week.
As you get fitter, you can gradually increase the mileage and duration of your runs.
Is It Safe To Run When You’re Old?
Yes, it is safe to run when you’re old. In fact, running can have many health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.
However, it’s important to check with your doctor before starting any type of physical activity, especially if you have underlying conditions related to your cardiovascular system, lungs, or bones.
This is to ensure your own safety.
Benefits of Running for Older People
In general, running has plenty of health benefits regardless of age. But even more so when you’re older.
The benefits of running for older people include:
- Improve cardiovascular health – running prevents cardiovascular conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.
- Improve mental health – running can improve mental health by reducing stress and anxiety, and improving mood and sleep quality.
- Enhance brain function – running can enhance brain function and prevent age-related cognitive decline.
- Maintain or lose weight – as your metabolism goes slower you need more exercise to keep your weight in check.
- Keeps the bones healthy – running can prevent age-related bone loss and improve bone density.
- Boosts immune system – running can boost the immune system and help fight off diseases.
What To Expect on Your First Run
Here are a few things you can expect on your first run:
- You will probably be out of breath – this is normal! Just keep going at a pace that is comfortable for you and your breathing will regulate itself.
- You may get a side stitch – this is also normal and is caused by the diaphragm spasming. To avoid this, focus on deep belly breathing and slow down if necessary.
- Your legs may feel heavy – this is common when starting out because your muscles are not used to the new activity. Just keep going and they will warm up eventually.
- You’ll probably feel sore after the run – this is normal! It just means your muscles are adapting to the new activity. Just make sure to stretch and foam roll after the run to help with recovery.
- You may feel like you can’t go on – this is also normal! Just take a break if you need to, walk for a bit, and then start running again when you’re ready.
Starting to run at 50 years old is totally possible and can have many health benefits. Just be sure to start slow, increase your mileage gradually, and focus on deep belly breathing. And don’t forget to consult with your doctor before starting any new physical activity if you happen to have any existing medical conditions.
My Recommended Gear
Hey, if you’re looking for the perfect running gear and you’re having a hard time choosing one, I’ve compiled a list of my favorites below.