I’m a USATF Level 1 Certified running coach. I’m also 52, which makes me a masters runner. Since age 19, I’ve run a mile here and there to stay in shape. Distance running and racing was something I’d always wanted to try. After my divorce was finalized in 2010, at age 45, I ran my first 10-mile race, the Broad Street Run – finishing with a sad, slow time and a happy, enduring grin on my face. I was pack fodder. But I became instantly hooked on the adrenaline and on improving my times. I started running and racing everything from 5Ks to marathons. I now run with the Philadelphia Runner/Puma Track Club, with a super-sonic-speedy bunch of younger, speedier 20- and 30-somethings. I’m the only master’s runner on the team – another example of my “zagging.” I know my limits all too well and could run with a group of runners my own age & earn more notoriety. But that’s not why I run. I’d rather rather be the caboose on this bullet train.
When I’m running, I don’t think about my age or what it means to be 50+. I don’t think about the latest wrinkle, or if it’s “time” to let go of my love of short running shorts. I think about running. More specifically, I think about:
- The pure joy that comes with moving my body
- Crushing a workout
- Nailing a pace
- Improving my form
- Being a blissful, tiny speck in the landscape and communing with nature
- Enjoying sights that I would not otherwise see, like a fox tiptoeing across the road at dusk in the middle of the city, or the baby-blanket skies you only are only rewarded with at sunrise.
When I run with friends, I enjoy chatting with them, listening to their stories, and supporting their goals.
Racing is another story. It’s life-affirming in ways that only competitive types can truly understand – to be laser-focused on the present, tuned in to every breath, every heart beat, every runner ahead of you. It doesn’t matter if you’re 25, 55, or 85 – when you are racing, you are in the moment.
Although I’m thrilled with age-group podium places, “good for my age” doesn’t quite do it for me, just like “good for a girl” doesn’t. I strive to be a better runner, period. I love outrunning competitors who are 2 or 3 decades my juniors. This is why you need to know that aging does not automatically slow you down.