By Rachel Lankester, Mutton Club Editor
Running is an impact sport! It impacts hips, knees, ankles, feet. So it pays to be careful, especially when running after 40, to look after our bones.
For women, with potential bone density issues as we age, it’s not always the preferred form of exercise. Certainly some specialists frown on speed and distance running (we’re talking marathons!) past middle age but that doesn’t have to stop us! Gentle jogging can actually be good for our bones – the trick is to get just enough impact without causing harm.
A good run, at a reasonable but not excessive pace, that still challenges on distance, can be incredibly motivating, exhilarating and endorphin inducing. And it can be good for maintaining and increasing bone strength if you don’t overdo it.
Running regularly is also a great way to keep one’s metabolism in peak condition, meaning one can still eat without worrying too much about weight gain. But if you start running too fast or too much you’re inviting injuries.
Once you’ve got the running bug, it’s hard to let go. It’s great for stress release too. I love it! Though I do have to do daily calf and bum stretches now to avoid restless legs at night and sciatica when I sit for too long.
Here are my top ten tips for being able to continue running after forty, or actually as long as possible.
- Don’t run to excess – know what your body can take – push it yes, but not so far as to damage it
- Slow down and run for the joy of running rather than having to win
- Make sure you do a reasonable warm-up and gentle dynamic stretches before you start
- Don’t run every day – give your body a chance to recover – do low impact exercise like yoga or swimming on non-running days instead
- Run on soft surfaces rather than tarmac or pavement when possible
- Get some reasonable shoes – visit a specialist running shop like Run and Become for a gait and foot arch analysis and advice on the best pair of shoes to suit you – but be careful because many shops now offer this service and staff are not always as well trained in doing this as they could be
- If you’re a confident runner, explore zero drop shoes with a wider toe bed. I now wear barefoot shoes almost exclusively except for running, because I feel I still need some padding to manage the impact on my older bones. I love Altra shoes which are more like barefoot shoes in general but which still have a thicker sole.
- Make sure you stretch well after your run when your muscles are warmed up
- Use an app like Nike+ Running to track your runs and motivate you to keep running
- If you like music when you run, put together a great running playlist to keep you on track. Spotify has some good ones.
- Make sure you stay well-hydrated – apparently we become less aware of needing water as we age!
- If you find sciatica and restless legs at night to be issues, use stronger stretches to enable you to keep running. At 56 I now stretch my calves (with my toes on a yoga block against the wall) and legs (downward dog) every night before bed and that makes a huge difference.
I love to run and though I need to stretch more now, I hope I don’t have to stop any time soon. If you’d like to see photos and videos from my runs, check me out on Instagram.
To make sure you’re stretching enough after your run, check out our features on yoga in midlife and yoga to help with menopause.
Rachel Lankester is the founder of Magnificent Midlife, author, host of the Magnificent Midlife Podcast, a midlife mentor and editor of the Mutton Club online magazine. After an initially devastating early menopause at 41, she dedicated herself to helping women vibrantly transition through the sometimes messy middle of life, helping them cope better with menopause and ageing in general, and create magnificent next chapters. She’s been featured in/on BBC Woman’s Hour, The Huffington Post, The Sunday Times, Thrive Global, Authority Magazine, The Age Buster, Woman’s Weekly, Prima Magazine, eShe, Tatler HK and Woman’s Own amongst others. She believes we just get better with age. Get her book Magnificent Midlife: Transform Your Middle Years, Menopause and Beyond.
Last Updated on February 1, 2023 by Editorial Staff