How and Why I Started Running at the Age of 46

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How and why I started running at 46

Call Me Crazy But I’ve Taken Up Running in my Mid-Late 40s

I just participated in the Mother’s Day Classic 8km Fun Run.  In the pouring rain. And I came middle of the pack and I’m happy with that.  I competed last year too and managed to shave about 5  minutes off my time which I’m pretty happy about.  Last year I felt that everyone was passing me, and that the only people I ran faster than were walking. This year I passed heaps of runners.

I could never run as a kid (well not more than 100 meters at a time. I loathed “cross country” running. As far as I was concerned it was pure torture and I was terrible at it.

My whole life I’ve avoided running as much as possible. Until, the beginning of last year.

What changed?

Well firstly I’d lost some weight (which you can read about here) and even though I’d been going to the gym for years, I was finding it hard to find the time to get there and with the pressures of work building up (along with  home and family life and responsibilities) it was hard to find the time that didn’t eat into my work day.

Secondly, I saw a program about “fast exercise” which talked about becoming fitter by doing very short interval training bursts.  So I decided since I’d never been able to run (and I’d been trying to run on the treadmill at the gym but couldn’t make it past about 6 minutes – well 4 minutes if I’m honest – without wanting to die) that I’d give it a go.

After 3 weeks of spending 3 minutes a week (3 times a week) doing 3 x 20 second sprints on the local oval I then got back on the treadmill.  Lo and behold I ran for 20 minutes, and I could have gone longer if my bra underwire hadn’t rubbed a blister onto my chest.

Suddenly I could run.  I then started running the local streets in my neighbourhood.  First thing in the morning I’d go out before my shower and getting the kids to school.  I started running 2.5km – 3km then gradually built it up to 5km.  It wasn’t a fast run, it’s what I’d call my Cliff Young Gumboot Shuffle, but it was a jog.

Getting a really good sports bra made a big difference to my ability to run.  A really big difference.  Once I’d had my breast reduction running became easier to do.  Much easier.  Even now if I don’t wear a really supportive (read ‘restrictive’) sports bra, I still find running exhausting within a minute or two.

Gradually I’ve managed to get a little faster which was proved to me with my Mother’s Day Classic result this past weekend.

I gave up the gym as finding the time to run was so much easier than finding the time to go to the gym (and a bunch cheaper too).  I can be up and out and back home and in the shower in under 40 minutes, fitting it into my day before my day really starts.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t actually enjoy running. I don’t find it fun.  But I do enjoy the feeling of being fit.  I don’t think I’ve ever been this fit in my life (well not since my late teens and even then I couldn’t run any distance).  It’s nice as I get older to feel fit and healthy, as the older I get the more I appreciate my health and mobility.  My kids are proud of me too.

I also think it’s really important as a mother to be a good example for my kids.  To show them that you can be active all your life and that your health is important.  To show that it’s never too late to start something new.  To show them you can, with effort, achieve what you set out to.

There is lots of research that shows that being fit and healthy reduces the risk of cancer plus heaps of other diseases (such as diabetes).  I’m all for that as I’d like to live to a ripe old age in a healthy way.

My next venture will be a 10km run.  That’s a distance I’ve never done before, but I’ve decided that I’m up for the challenge and will be doing it in the Run Melbourne event in July.

So I’m programming my Runkeeper app to give me a training program to do that.    I’ll get there one step at a time.

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19 Comments

  • All of this is so true. I took up running at the beginning of the year. I figured it was a cost and time efficient way to exercise. At the beginning I thought I was going to die, but I didn’t and now I can say I like it. I certainly love the feeling of being fit and getting strong!

  • I started running at 46 also. Now ten years later (I turn 56 in June) I am still running and love it. I do really enjoy running. It makes me feel free and full of life! I just ran a 5k last week and by my third mile I was running 8 min 10 seconds. The 5k before that (Feb in Phoenix) I got first place in my age group (45 to 55)! It felt so great! I’m glad you found this sport and are sharing it with others. Great inspiration to let people know you are never too old to try new things! Peace! Cheryl

  • I started running three years ago at 55, after being a non-running, non athletic person my whole life. Last year, I ran two half-marathons. I like being stronger and fitter, but I like even better the notion that I can make changes so late in life. And I want to model for my daughter (and, now, stepdaughter), that just because you fear you won’t be good at something is not a reason not to try it. Too many adults limit themselves to activities they know already they can do.

      • Hi Imogen, congratulations on starting your running journey! Call me crazier – I started running past 50! Two years ago I began “Learn to Run” at age 52. Just one year later I ran my first half marathon in under 2 1/2 hours. Give it a try. With the right training and attitude, you can do it!

  • I started running 3 years ago when I was 51. So far I have run 10 half marathons. I have always been involved in some kind of exercise ( weight training, cycling , yoga, walking) but thought I was not able to run. Now I run an average of 30 miles per week, including a 10-13 mile run every Saturday. I live by the beach so it is easy for me to get up at 5 am and go out for a run before I go to work. I love the challenge of running- some days are so hard , some days I feel like I can fly.

  • Congratulations on your running journey Imogen. Exercise is so important for health and well being. I was a runner but at 72 years old the joints and knees can’t take it any more and bike riding is my choice now as well as gym classes. Pump, Balance,Yoga and luckily I have the time to indulge in these and I love them all.

  • I’d love to see a post about running/sports outfits to suit different body shapes (if you feel so inclined).

  • Way to go Imogen! After running for fitness a few years I finally came to enjoy the act of running itself. It almost feels like a meditation now, and puts me in a peaceful and cheerful frame of mind. I hope the same for you!

    I always love reading about what’s going on in your life as much as your style tips (which I love).

  • Congrats on your running- from another ” late starter” – it is addictive & you will gradually increase your distance and speed. I love running with a group from my gym- I’m the slowest ( and oldest), but it’s great to be pushed & I keep up by running less ramps ( we run along the bay on beach/ cliff tracks). Someone above mentioned they’d like to see you do a ” fitness” wardrobe. I’d love to know if any other middle- aged girls out there find they need a ” menopause” wardrobe…..seriously!!! I cannot stand the hot flushes and find myself wearing sleeveless or shortsleeve tops under jumpers/ jackets so I can peel off when enveloped in a hot flush. Thoughts? Tips?

  • So good to read this. Thank you for sharing. I’m 46 and I’ve also never been a big fan of running but it’s a struggle to find the time for exercise, but…now I’m going to have a go at following your example. Wish me luck!

  • Good for you! I agree, this is good modeling for our kids and also introduces a stimulating new element to life. If you never run further or faster than you do now, you’ll still b getting great benefits.

  • I have finally found a do-able way to stay fit. I got into High Intensity Interval Training after watching the Catalyst program. I went down to my local Park and did 4 x30 second runs with 1 minute rests in between. I overdid the speed and pulled a muscle! I next tried doing HIIT on the cross trainer at the gym. I enjoyed it and started getting fit but ended up with tight thigh muscles and poor flexibility in the legs. A friend, who is a yoga teacher, suggested I do my HIIT on the upright rowing machine as this would work more muscle groups and increase flexibility. I rang my gym to see if they have one and asked if someone could show me the correct technique. When I got there they sent down an honors student who is researching High Intensity Interval Training and metabolism. (My gym is at a local University) He showed me the correct resistance to start at and the speed (b/w 230 and 240) He said I would benefit even if I only did 4×20 seconds. I’m currently doing 6×30 seconds with a minute rest in between, 9 minutes in total. I can leave home and be back in 20 minutes. I aim for 3 to 4 times per week, sometimes managing only once or twice a week. I add other exercise: walks, bikerides and jogs when I can. It’s an easy way to maintain base fitness or to increase fitness by doing it 3/4 times per week. It’s increased my flexibily and I feel like I’ve finally found a do-able way to stay fit.

    • I completely love HIT as it helped me run to start with. I do it in between my longer runs 4 x 20 seconds (that’s all I can keep up my full speed for).

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