How To Start Running At Age 50 and Overweight!
Running can be a daunting thing for anybody to start, but if you are a little on the heavy side and getting on somewhat in years, it is even scarier. However, running offers a host of health benefits, as well as some real feel-good energy, and many runners talk about how much they love running and how life-changing it is.
It’s important to take the right approach when it comes to running, or you risk ending up overwhelmed, discouraged, and frustrated – and you might put yourself off running in the long term. Instead of that, let’s look at what you can do to put your “best foot forward” (pun intended) and get a great start to your running adventure.
So, here’s our take on how to start running at 50 and overweight? 9 tips to help you stay on track!
Tip 1: Talk To Your Doctor
It’s important to talk to your doctor before you start up a new exercise regime, especially if you are over 50 and overweight. While you will enjoy some great health benefits from taking up running, it’s also true that you may need to take some precautions.
You need to discuss your plans with your doctor and come up with some realistic goals that will not put excessive pressure on your body. Running is healthy, but shocking your body with abrupt and strenuous exercise isn’t!
Talk to your doctor about how you should approach running, and get details about any precautions you may need to take. You might be asked to do some tests to check out your physical health – don’t worry about these; they are just to set a foundation from which you can start.
Tip 2: Get Running Gear
You don’t need a lot of equipment to run, which is one of the reasons it’s an accessible sport for most people. However, you will need comfortable, high-quality running shoes, and you should invest in these straight away, making sure you have them on your feet the very first time you go running.
If you have some old trainers knocking around, you can wear these for the first few runs, but it’s much better to get comfortable shoes on your feet so you don’t end up with blisters or pain.
Sports stores, particularly high-quality ones, should be able to recommend good running shoes to you. They will help to ensure that your shoes fit your feet well, and will support them as you run. Because running is a high-impact sport, this is important to consider, particularly for people who are overweight.
Tip 3: Start Walking
This might sound like a frustrating tip if you are keen to get out there and start burning off fat and energy, but it is often a useful one. Start slow. If you make yourself hate running by hurling yourself into it far too fast and far too hard, you’ll find that running becomes a chore, not a pleasure.
This negative association could become lasting, so it’s much better to build up to it slowly. This is also better for your joints and muscles, which will have time to strengthen.
Try to do a little bit every day. You might walk around the block, or even just to the bottom of the street and back. It does not need to be a lot if you’re finding it hard – it just needs to be consistent. Build up the habit until the walk feels easier, and then go from there by slowly increasing the distance.
As a rule of thumb, being able to comfortably walk for about 30 minutes is probably a good guide before you start challenging your body with running. Don’t feel disappointed in yourself if it is very hard at first; you are making a life change, and it is going to be tough at points. You’ll get there!
Tip 4: Increase Slowly
It is easy to get over-excited by your achievements and decide to do too much too fast. Instead of hurling yourself into new challenges that you aren’t ready for, stay realistic and keep increasing the challenge slowly.
10% more is a good rule of thumb, and you can do this by just adding a few extra minutes to your routine every week or so – if you feel ready to.
It might feel seem slow, especially if you end up comparing yourself to younger, fitter runners and their achievements, but remember that if you push yourself, you could end up with an injury that will stop you from running for longer.
Overall, you will make more progress by sticking with slow and steady, rather than throwing yourself into exercise that is beyond your ability at present.
Tip 5: Add To Your Gear
You can make this an early step if you have the budget, but you may be put off by the price of running gear, and it might seem like too big an investment to make straight away. Once you are keen on running, however, it is definitely worthwhile.
If you are overweight, you may find that compression running gear offers you good support. It may reduce any chafing, and can help to reduce the muscle soreness you may experience after exercising.
Tip 6: Create A Schedule
Once you have a sense of what you can achieve and what your goals are, it’s time to build yourself a schedule. You might do this immediately, but in the early days, it may merely be a “5-minute jog” three days per week. As you expand your running skills, you will probably want to make a more complicated schedule.
Remember to build rest days into it. If you are older, your body will take more time to recover from exercising than younger people, so this is important to consider. Do not push yourself beyond your limits; you risk injury, and it could take months to heal.
Make a schedule that is realistic, and you are much more likely to stick to it. This is far better than an over-ambitious schedule that makes you feel frightened whenever you look at it, or guilty when you fail to meet it. Make running a challenge, but a pleasant, achievable one.
You might also find it helpful to give yourself a certain number of “outs” per week or month, where you accept that you aren’t going to meet your goal because other things have come up, and that’s okay.
Tip 7: Work On Your Balance
Balance is key for runners, and many older people find that their balance is not as good as it used to be when they were younger. You should spend time working on your balance, as this will minimize falls, and is also good for your muscles.
Yoga poses are an excellent way to hone your balance. You can also try simply standing on one leg. Increase the challenge by closing your eyes, or raising your knee to your chest. Good balance is a great way to improve your running posture, too.
Tip 8: Focus On Deep Breathing
Some people who are overweight find that they get very breathless when they try to run. They may end up breathing quickly to try and compensate, but this does little to increase the oxygen levels in the blood, and can be unpleasant.
Work on your breathing, focusing on taking deep, slow breaths. You may find it easier to do this when you are walking at first, and build up to running. You can time this with your steps, which may help you to find a walking rhythm and might also make it easier to regulate your breathing so you don’t end up panting.
Try to exhale for two steps, and inhale for three. Next, try exhaling for three, and inhaling for four. Experiment with different breaths and become more aware of how you are breathing and how it affects your running.
This tip is useful for any runner but can be particularly helpful if you are overweight or past 50.
Tip 9: Stop Before Injury
If you feel something hurting, stop. Take a break, and then ease back into the exercise. If it still hurts, stop completely, and end the run early.
It is not a good idea to push yourself when something is actually hurting – and you’ll soon learn the difference between the gentle burn of exercised muscles and the pain of “something is wrong.”
Stopping early reduces the chances of you doing serious injury to yourself. Take a break for a day and see how the pain area feels. If it is red or swollen, try applying ice, or speak to your doctor. Don’t resume running until you feel you are ready and the pain has gone.
Treat your body with respect when you run, and you will find running is pleasanter and better for you overall. It’s good to challenge yourself, but you should never do so to the point of risking serious injury.
Tip 10: Run on Easy-Flat Surfaces
I know this might sound obvious for all runners who are just starting out, but especially for older runners, you need to run on easy surfaces. Your best bet is to find a local track at a school for your running habits to commence. After about 4-6 weeks when your legs have gotten used to running, then you can switch over to concrete or asphalt. Don’t forget that grass can be a little bit softer and easier to run on rather than the impact of running on harder surfaces.
Running can be hard for anyone, and if you are heavy and also getting on in years, you may feel a bit daunted, but there is lots you can do to make it pleasant and also beneficial. Don’t be afraid – just take care of yourself, and go slowly; you’ll be an expert runner before you know it!