The Pain of Running Into My Late 30s
If you know me at all, then you probably already know that I go running on the daily. Well, almost (6 days/week). Running for me is more than just going out and getting some exercise in, it’s become part of the fabric of my being. As I get older I’ve had to get used to what running nearly every day does to my body — and realize what all it takes to keep putting in miles.
Why do I run?
There are so many ways to get a workout in theses days, so why do I choose to do something that’s so high-impact like running? There are a few reasons for this and I’ll try to make this quick by bringing up the main ones.
I can do it anywhere. This is very, very important to me since I love traveling around a lot. Running only requires a pair of shoes and some time — that’s it. This is also why I love living somewhere with warm weather. Being able to walk outside and run everyday is very important to me.
It’s a great workout that doesn’t require a lot of time. Running is one of the most efficient ways to burn calories and to work up a good sweat. The only things that are close to it require snow, pools, or other equipment so for me, this puts running into a category of its own.
Running is an amazing way to explore new places. There are very few things that I love to do more than getting to a new place, throwing in my headphones, lacing up my shoes, and running around a new place that I don’t know anything about. I put some money in my pocket, make sure my phone is charged, and just roll out to who-knows-where. I’ve met so many people and found many interesting places by doing this.
Running gets my mind right. Of course running is good for me physically as far as a workout goes, but most people don’t realize the mental benefits it gives as well. For me, a day doesn’t really even start until I get my run in, which is why I try to do it in the morning as much as possible. After running my mind is clearer, my mood is better, and I’m ready to take on the world. For real, this is a thing.
Running while getting older is a real bitch
I don’t know any other way to say it, but for someone like me who’s 37 years old and has put some serious miles, basketball games, hikes, and everything else on my body, it’s only a matter of time before it starts to complain. I can remember running in my 20s and even in my early 30s and how it was totally different. No stretching, no prep, no worry about my form or my shoes or anything else. I would just go run and that was it. Ah, the good ol’ days.
Now it’s a lot different and things that used to not matter have become very, very important. You know, things like running technique, stretching, strengthening, and let’s not forget flexibility and mobility. Those two might be the most important of them all, but when I was younger they weren’t even on my radar. Now I think about them every day and usually spend as much time stretching before/after running than I do actually during my run.
Also, if I need to, I’ll ice my knees or other parts of my body that seem to be hurting more than they should (see above photo of me icing my knee at KFC). This is my new reality and something I’ve gotten used to at this point — honestly, if I want to keep on running I don’t really have a choice.
Something is always going to hurt
Like I said before, running is hard on your body and it’s high-impact, so if you continue to do it as you get older you’re going to have some pain. In fact, if you’re like me, you’ll most likely always have smaller pains here and there that you’ll constantly be dealing with. Awesome!
It’s always good to listen to your body when it comes to pain, but the really important thing that I’ve noticed is that many of the things that start hurting are just your body’s way of telling you that you might want to change something up a bit. Also, what hurts is almost always not the main problem, but just a result of something like tight calves, heel striking, or some other detail you’ve overlooked.
From what I can tell, if you’re like me and well on your way to being 40 and still running, something is always going to hurt, but the key is knowing why and whether of not it’s a big deal. When to rest and when to keep running, this is always going through a runner’s mind when something hurts and for me it’s a regular thing.
Importance of mobility and flexibility
I don’t want to end this post without emphasizing this one more time — from my experience, having good mobility and flexibility is the key to being able to run longer term with the least amount of pain or problems. I’ve just focused on these when I’ve had to over the past few years, but if I would have done it earlier I have no doubt that my body would be in much better shape now.
Sure, good running technique is also important (foot strike, etc.), but if you have good mobility and flexibility you can usually overcome these others problem pretty easily. So, if you’re a runner it’s probably time to take a look at these two things and take it from me — the earlier you can get them under control, the better.