By Sue Loncaric
Run a marathon in your 50s? – Yes you can!!!
Many of us have had the fleeting thought as we see the Olympic marathon runners cross the finish line, that running a marathon is on our bucket list! Just as quickly, we dismiss the idea that we could never do it. However, this dream is definitely achievable if you are willing to make the commitment.
Okay, you may not want to run a marathon but there may be something you really want to achieve. I hope my story and the suggestions made will encourage you to go for whatever you want.
I am now 57 years old and up until 6 years ago my fitness regime was erratic. I started running 7 years ago and had competed in my first half marathon when I turned 50.
If you had said in the beginning that I would be able to run I would have laughed at the idea. I was working in an office with 5 women all much younger than me. The decision was made to run in a 10km fun run and at that time I couldn’t even run from one lamp post to the next.
Reluctantly I purchased some running shoes and donned the t-shirt and shorts and joined them for runs (or should I say a fast walk) after work a couple of times a week.
At first, I struggled as I was not fit. Running is definitely a mind game that you play and I certainly didn’t want to play this game. However, I stuck at it and the short jogs became longer each week until I could run a distance without requiring paramedic assistance!
We achieved the first goal of starting and then continued until we all completed the 10km Fun Run. Receiving the finishers’ medal was a great feeling even though every finisher received one.
I must have been delirious at the time however, as I suggested to the girls that we aim for a half marathon and although they agreed that my mental state was not sound at the time, we set the goal for the following year. I would run a half marathon before I turned 50!
Once that goal was achieved (and of course another finishers’ medal to prove it), I thought I had achieved it all. But there was a voice that popped up every now and then asking why I didn’t try to achieve the final goal of a marathon.
I had joined a gym with my husband in September 2011. He joined for health reasons and it made it easier to go with someone else as you are more likely to stick with it because you don’t want to let the other person down. We love travelling and wanted to be healthy and fit to enjoy life to the full and the many wonders that the world has to offer.
During a Saturday morning social run with my friends (we now call ourselves the Saturday Sisters) in early 2012, I blurted out that I was going to run a marathon – 42.2kms!
Well, that was it, I had spoken the words out loud to others and so my pride kicked in to ensure that I at least gave it a shot. My goal was to complete the marathon before my 55th birthday later that year. My husband was very supportive and encouraged me to ‘go for it’ and what was the worst that could happen?
And so began the many months of training and education.dig deeper
Having never run a marathon before I researched training programs from the internet and found one that would be suitable. I needed to educate myself on what foods to eat to provide me with enough energy during the training runs and also the marathon itself. To be totally fit you need to exercise and watch what you eat in order for your body to perform at its optimum level. Again, my husband was great and made sure I had everything I needed to keep up the energy levels.
Keeping focused and committed to my goal was important and that meant not missing any training sessions. The gym was great as I had to fit in training sessions around work and home, sometimes going to the gym at 4:30am!! With the gym being open 24/7 I would always make a training session even if I couldn’t run outside.
Improving core strength was important so I made sure that I did some gym work revolving around that. Exercises like the plank, tummy crunches, squats and light weights all helped to improve my overall strength in addition to the running.
It wasn’t easy to leave a nice warm bed on cold, dark mornings but it is so worth it in the end when you achieve your goal.
I managed to convince my friend who had been training me to enter the run and also a colleague from work. They were both just as nervous as I but were so elated when they had achieved the goal. It made my day when they both said that if it wasn’t for me they would not have done it. That was a special feeling for me to know I had inspired others.
The months flew by and suddenly the day had arrived. I felt good because I had put the work in. I felt relaxed because let’s face it I wasn’t going to be leading the pack so was content to run my own race. I achieved the time I wanted and ran the whole 42km.
The feeling of achievement coming over that finish line is fantastic and emotional. Now I had the finishers’ medal to prove it!!! Two weeks later I celebrated my 55th birthday.
Since then I have completed bootcamp 3 mornings a week and am fortunate to travel overseas for holidays. I have now retired from full time work but haven’t retired from life! I try to surround myself with positive people who can inspire me. I have a great personal trainer who keeps me going and my Saturday Sisters who I love to run with for the social weekly chat.
As I mentioned earlier, running a marathon may not be your thing but any goal you want to achieve has the same components to running a marathon. Remember, you can do anything if you set your mind to it. Just believe in yourself and keep focused on your goal and you will achieve it. Be happy and healthy.
Sue Loncaric is a wife, a mum and a nan. She just entered a new decade – she’s 60 and loving it! Life is there to be lived and she’s going to be sharing her thoughts and experiences about this fabulous time of life. She’s all about Positive Ageing and she hopes to encourage Women Over 50 to be fit, fabulous,healthier and happier. You can find Sue at her blog Sizzling Towards 60 and Beyond.