Last Saturday I turned 44 years old. 44! I remember when, in what seems like not too long ago, mid-40s was really old. Anything past 50 was pretty much knocking on death’s door.
With each birthday, I’ve said that life just keeps getting better and better. I loved my 20s, when I learned how to live on my own as an adult and when I met my best friend who would become my partner in life. I loved my 30s, when I settled into my marriage and built a happy home with lots of animals to love and help (I rescued countless homeless cats and kittens in my neighborhood plus volunteered and fostered for an animal shelter), having decided not to have kids. It was in my late 30s that I switched to a plant-based diet, lost more than 35 pounds, and started running. And I’ve loved my 40s, when I’ve had the benefit of wisdom and insight that only time brings, when I’ve focused on digging deep into the things I love most in both my personal and work life, when I’ve lived by my personal motto that life is too short to not do what I love.
My perspective has obviously changed over the years, and I no longer think of 44 as really old. However, this is the first year I’ve felt some changes in terms of running that have to be from getting older.
I Need More Easy Running
As you know if you follow me, this year I felt like I needed much more recovery and adopted the 80/20 method where the majority of running is at a very easy pace. Hard efforts are so much more taxing on my body than they used to be. So far (and knock on wood) my body is still fine with running most days of the week, probably because most of those runs are at an easy pace. Maybe I will have to reduce my days of running as I get older, but for now reducing hard effort seems to keep my body happy.
I’m More Sore After Workouts/Long Runs
It’s hard to measure exactly how much more sore, but I feel extra sore/creaky/tight following long runs or hard workouts. While I’ve never had a major injury in 6 years of running, I usually also never have any little aches and pains. I guess that’s changing! I’m doing a lot of stretching and foam rolling, which seems to help.
I Like Warm Weather Running
Only a few years ago, I was a huge fan of cold weather running. Nothing was too cold for me. At the same time, I really loathed running in hot weather. That seems to be reversing! Last winter was the first winter that I wasn’t looking forward to winter training. I still got out there, but I wasn’t immune to the cold like I previously seemed to be.
This year, I’ve seemed to sail right through the worst of this summer’s weather with little problems. I’m sure part of that is that I’ve been doing mostly easy running, which is so much easier to handle than hard efforts during hot and humid weather. And I also think trail running has helped since I ran mostly in the shade and not the hot sun in the hottest part of summer. But this is the first summer that I haven’t minded running in warm weather much.
And now, as the mornings get pretty chilly, I’m actually feeling cold! Mainly it’s my arms and hands, but where other runners are still wearing tanks, I feel chilly even with a longsleeve top on. On this morning’s run in 52 degrees, I wished I had gloves! I still prefer cooler weather in general, but when it comes to running, I actually don’t mind warmer weather now. That’s a huge change for me!
Running Into My Senior Years
I think I’ve been doing a good job of listening to my body and adjusting my running, and I’ll continue to do that as I get older. That’s a lot easier to do now that my relationship with running has changed from must get faster to simply run happy. I do wonder whether I’ll be able to keep running in my senior years.
There’s a senior gentleman I see every single morning when I run. He parks his white pick-up truck by the trail, takes out his bike, and puts on about 100 layers of safety gear to bike on a trail with no vehicular traffic. I think you could probably see him from the West Coast. But overdressed in safety gear or not, he’s out there every single day, just like I am. I respect that. I see so many seniors biking for exercise. I hope that if I can’t continue running, I’ll at least be able to walk. I’d be okay with walking since I’d still be able to keep my morning routine of getting out and enjoying the early mornings. I’m not sure that I’ll ever like biking and want to do it for fun, but who knows.
Another benefit of getting older is planning for retirement. We’ve been planning for an early retirement for a long time, which I guess is much easier to do if you don’t have kids. I love working (not just my current job–I’ve loved pretty much every job I’ve had), so I plan to work longer than my husband. But, we have a plan and will be able to make some major life changes and move into the home where we’ll retire in about 10 years. We’ve been thinking of where to retire for a few years (remember when I announced prematurely I was moving to Salt Lake City? Well, not yet! And not SLC after I learned more about it). I want to be in the mountains out west, somewhere that doesn’t get too hot in summer, that’s affordable, scenic, and has lots of access to nature with running (and walking and hiking) routes. One place I’ve ruled out is an island. Do you watch the island hunters shows? I’m captivated by them–until I realize that there would be absolutely nowhere to run! I guess I’ll keep my millions to myself and not buy an island, ha ha.
Anyway, I don’t want to gush because those people annoy me (“OMG I’m so happy and lucky and have the absolute best life and husband and….”), but I do feel like life just keeps getting better as I get older, and I do feel lucky that I’m able to keep running, even if I have to make some adjustments. Because life is too short to not do what you love!