Welcome to my first official post on overthehillrunning.com! Currently, I am 44-years-old, which may seem to be on the young side of “old,” but it’s old enough to notice differences from when I first became a runner. I have learned that the best way to navigate these changes and stay in the game is to surround myself with a positive community who can understand, support, and encourage. So here we are!
Whenever my running friends and I get together, all we seem to talk about is running. And sometimes age and how age affects running. Sometimes we talk about the latest training strategy that supposedly can help us beat our PR from when we were 28. Sometimes we commiserate on our physical ailments and share ideas that could help alleviate them. And sometimes we secretly talk about how awesome we are for getting up early on a Saturday morning and getting in 10 miles before most people wake up. In total, we talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of running. Read on and feel free to post a comment if any of this resonates with you too.
There are so many benefits of being a runner. You’ve probably heard them all before but to recap, here’s a short list:
- Improves heart health
- Strengthens immune functioning
- Helps build/maintain bone density
- Helps with weight control
- Promotes better sleep
- Improves mental health, including coping with stress, depression, and anxiety
- Benefits overall cognitive functioning (i.e., ability to focus, remember information in the short-term, learn new tasks more quickly, shifting from one task to another, etc.)
When I was younger, I ran to help control my weight. Now I run to help control my sanity. Just kidding. Kind of.
Not to get overly vain, but I read an article once that said running causes wrinkles and I think it might be true. At least for me. I smile a lot (probably because I’m a runner) and at first I noticed the crows feet pop up. Then a little forehead wrinkle, and now my cheeks are getting wrinkly where I smile. Some of my same-age non-running friends don’t have a single wrinkle yet.
Anyway, the article I read alluded to all the bouncing we do while running causes a loss of elasticity to the skin. Plus, we’re out in the sun a lot while we run. A healthy diet, sunscreen, and Botox help, as well as remembering all of those other benefits of running outweigh a few wrinkles. (Fun fact: Those who have smile wrinkles are seen as more clever and attractive according to a study found online.)
Running can hurt. It hurts when your alarm goes off and it’s still dark outside but you know it’s the only time you’ll have all day to run. Or, you’ve had a long day at work, you’re hungry, it’s cold and maybe even icy outside, and your kids, dogs, or partner are bouncing all over begging for attention. All you want to do is eat dinner, be cozy, and watch TV in bed. But instead, you change your clothes, lace up those running shoes, put on some sunscreen, leash up the dogs, and head out the door. That moment is not easy. That’s why 95% of the population doesn’t run.
Running can also hurt physically. Maybe you wake up each morning and hobble your way to the bathroom because your joints are stiff from last night’s running workout. Or you brace yourself whenever you go down stairs because every single step hurts your knee. Or you want to go for a run so bad but your IT band won’t relax no matter how much you foam roll and you’re not sure you can face the pain again during your run. The list goes on. Chances are if you’re over 40 you know what I’m talking about.
We’ve lived the benefits of running and it hurts the most when we can’t run, whether it’s due to life circumstances (demanding job, care taking, etc), a broken heart, illness, or injury. That’s when things get ugly. How are we supposed to cope when our main coping strategy is taken away? I could write a novel on that and one of these days I’ll talk more about on this website, but for now this is an introductory post so I’ll keep it short. Just know that if this is you right now (i.e., unable to run), you still have your people here. We’ve got your back.
To be honest, I don’t have this website all planned out yet. But that’s part of life, right? Figuring it out as we go. Unless you’re running a marathon. That you should have planned out.
But really, here’s to focusing more on the Good than on the Bad or Ugly.