How to start running in midlife

Learning to start running in midlife can be daunting – where do you begin? And how do you get better?

Running is a fantastic form of cardio, helping us to maintain a healthy weight and improve our overall wellbeing at any age. 

If you’re chomping at the bit to lace up your trainers and hit the road, but are in need of direction, we have lots of top tips to help you get running in midlife.

If you have any concerns about starting a new exercise regime, always speak to a healthcare expert first.

How to start running in midlife

Follow a programme

If you’re completely new to running or ready to get back into the stride of things after a break, a running programme can help you hit your goals.

There are many free running programmes available online. Most combine a mixture of running and walking to help you get started. For example, Couch to 5k helps you to gradually work up to a 5km run in just nine weeks. It’s aimed at total beginners or those who want to simply become more active. 

Week one involves running for just one minute at a time, creating realistic expectations so you don’t become disheartened.

If you feel confident enough, you don’t have to follow a plan if you’d prefer to do it alone. Combining walking and running is a great way to start running in midlife.

Find your pace

Finding your rhythm while running is an important part of an effective running technique. We suggest keeping a steady ‘1-2-1-2-1-2’ pace throughout your workout. 

Maintaining a consistent pace throughout the run rather than over exerting yourself at the start can help you to run further for longer as you progress. Slow and steady (to start with) wins the race!

Some more experienced runners find adding speed intervals to their runs helps to build up their endurance. 

For more tips on improving your running technique, click here.

Don’t ignore pain

Make sure you take time to warm up before you run and cool down afterwards to avoid injuries.

As with any kind of exercise, pain is our body’s way of telling us something is wrong. Continuing to run with an injury can make matters worse.

Make sure to rest and speak to a specialist if you’re experiencing on-going pain. Sometimes it may be a simple fix, such as correcting your footwear. 

Set a goal

Having a goal in mind can help you to stay motivated. For some people it may be to reduce stress levels, take a hold on their health or weight, get fitter, or to simply to be able to run a mile non-stop.

If you feel like giving up, remind yourself of your end goal.

Other exercise

While you may think that the only way to get better at running is by, well, running, this isn’t actually the case. Be sure to mix in other workouts that compliment your runs (and avoid getting bored!).

Rolling out your mat for a spot of yoga can help to stretch out any post-run soreness, while consistent HIIT sessions can help to further improve your cardiovascular endurance and explosive power. Plus, strength training with weights can help strengthen muscles so you can run further for longer.

Recovery is an essential part of any exercise routine, so it’s important to incorporate rest days into your weekly running schedule to avoid injury and allow muscles to recover.

Buddy up

Consistency is key when it comes to becoming a runner in midlife. An exercise buddy is a great way to keep you accountable with your running goals. 

Hitting the road with a loved-one can make running more fun, and you’re less likely to skip on your session if you have someone else waiting on you.

Fuel right

Guilty of scoffing a banana right before a run and then getting a stitch half way round your route? Whether you run fasted (also known as fasted cardio) or prefer to eat a few hours beforehand is completely up to you.

However, fuelling up a few hours beforehand can help you to maintain energy levels. Choose foods with plenty of protein and fats, such as protein porridge.

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