Middle-Age Women Can Embrace Sense of Purpose, Exercise through Training for Half-Marathon
Two key habits that show up in the research on successful aging are committing to exercise and having a sense of purpose. So what about combining the two?
Take my friends, Jan (age 59) and Pat (age 67). After Pat moved into Jan’s neighborhood in May 2009, they two began getting together. “We both enjoy walking so my exercise got a jump start because of her commitment to meet and walk every morning before work for her at 5:30 a.m.,” Pat said. “I thought that was way too early for me truthfully. It worked perfectly however.” Fast forward a year and the two decided to graduate to a running program. And not just any old running program, but one that would allow them to run and complete a half-marathon.
It turns out the two came from different running backgrounds. Pat had never run a half-marathon, while Jan was a veteran. “I wanted to renew my interest in running,” Jan explained. “From the age 35 to 51, I ran on a weekly basis. I ran numerous half-marathons, trained for several marathons, yet ran only one: The Honolulu Marathon in 1999. In my early 50s I suffered back pain and other problems. I stopped running temporarily but that ‘temporary stop’ lasted for seven years!”
The pair participated in the Jeff Galloway training program, which set up an individualized walking and running regimen. “We would run/walk a minute for 40 minutes for three days a week,” Pat said. “We’d walk an hour the rest of the days at 5:30 a.m. Saturdays we would then meet up with the Galloway running group and train for the half marathon at White Rock Marathon. That was the goal that we planned. We would run in different locations every Saturday with our group, increasing our miles until we achieved our needed minimum 13.6 miles or more.”
When the half-marathon rolled around in early December, both Jan and Pat were ready and they both successfully crossed the finish line. But they also see the longer view of what they accomplished by training with the group. “My goal in it (participating) was to get stronger and stay healthy as I age. I am 67 and needed to lose weight, which I did over the year slowly,” said Pat, who lost 21 pounds. “More importantly, I feel healthy and great and try to eat well. I don’t want injuries so the training is designed for that perfectly.”
“I’m 59-years-old and a former runner,” Jan said. “So I felt fantastic to be back running in some fashion. As a younger person, I would frown upon the idea of run/walk. But for my age, it was a perfect pace.” Jan didn’t lose any weight, but believes she would have if she had changed her diet. She also suffered from stiffness and soreness, but found that taking Glucosamine made the aches that came from running bearable.
Pat learned that the training was important “for fun, friendships, exercise, and feeling good about myself. I will age, but this gives me a feeling of control back in my life. I see a lot of changes I am not able to control that just come with age (like) wrinkles and skin tone, but my health is good and that is primary. My outlook is happier just letting go and having a good time with friends. I won’t break any records, but I will enjoy as much and as long as I can exercising and taking care of myself.”