How to start running after 50 years old and achieve your goal? Here’s how they did it

by On May 9, 2021

Age should never be a factor to stop you from achieving your goals.

Is Running Suitable For Older Ages?

Running is a great way to maintain your overall health, as it will help you to stay fit and strong. Well, some naysayers may say that running in your 50s might not be safe because running is a high impact exercise, and it can be tough on your muscles and joints. It might lead to injury if your body does not adapt to your running routine.

Whether you are new to running or a veteran runner entering a new age group, running should be enjoyable and fun, as long as you listen to your body and rest well between those days.

Besides that, we invited three avid runners to share their experience on how running had changed their lifestyle in an older age and why it is important for seniors and older adults to start running.

1. Louis Cheok Chen Yan

Bio: Singaporean, 57-years-old, Creative Services Manager

Is Running Suitable For Older Ages?
Runner: Louis Cheok Chen Yan

Louis started brisk walking in Aug 2016, primarily for weight loss (was 103kg), which contributed to his sciatica in his L4/L5 and knee pain. With pain shooting down his legs, Louis could not walk for more than 15 minutes without stopping for rest.

After losing 12kg and undergoing chiropractic treatment in 2017, Louis's condition improved and he began jogs of up to 7km. With improved leg strength and reduced knee pain, he progressed to running 8-10 km in early 2018.

Dropping another 11kg helped him to get to run 10km regularly 4-5 times weekly. He also did complete the maiden Stan chart HM in Dec 2018 finishing 3h 8 min. Presently, he continues to run thrice weekly.

RS: What drives you to run on a regular basis, and how often do you run?

Louis: My motivation to run regularly stems from a desire to keep fit and stay mentally strong as I age. My goal is to stay injury-free, as far as possible, so I can continue running for as long as possible. On average, I do 3-4 runs per week, covering anywhere from 5-10km, with longer runs of up to 13km on weekends.

RS: How has running changed your lifestyle in your older age?

Louis: Running has become my lifestyle habit, initially to overcome weight issues, sciatica, lower back and knee pain. As I lose weight and gain running strength, I run to improve endurance and build mental strength. I feel running is a good way to help stave off dementia, as well as gain focus to attain goals, be it being more productive at work or running long distances.

RS: Why do you think it is important to run as we get older? How so?

Louis: Continual mobility in our advanced years is important to maintain good muscular strength and flexibility as we age. This is essential to delay the onset of age-related issues like arthritis and muscle loss due to low activity. Additionally, running can improve mental alertness, helping memory and higher cognitive functions as we age.

RS: Do you recommend older adults and seniors take up running as a habit in their daily lives?

Louis: I highly recommend older adults and seniors take up running as a habit in their daily lives - not only for cardiovascular benefits, but also improved mobility to delay the onset of sedentary lifestyle issues like weight management, diabetes, hypertension, as well as depression.

Furthermore, getting fresh air and sunshine helps boost bone health, and improved brain function to stay productive in our senior years.

RS: What does running mean to you?

Louis: Running is an extension of my "Growth Mindset" - to be resilient, curious and willing to try new things and take risks to grow. In many ways, running drives me to push new limits, not letting age define what people say we can or cannot do.

Personally, I believe we are only as young or old as our minds think. If we think like a younger self, we can change our ability to keep improving physically and even mentally in our senior years.

You can follow Louis on Instagram: @sqylcraft

2. Michelle Cheong Lai Fong

Bio: Singaporean, 55-years-old, Homemaker 

Is Running Suitable For Older Ages?
Runner: Michelle Cheong Lai Fong

Started with walks back in 2010, brisk walks, slow runs, then running when Michelle was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.

RS: What drives you to run on a regular basis and how often do you run?

Michelle: I love running. At my peak, 10km six days a week, one rest day. I started because I wanted to do my first triathlon as a challenge for turning 50. It took years to train towards it.

RS: How has running changed your lifestyle in your older age?

Michelle: As I started running late in life, my forties, I really have no comparison. But I feel the fittest now. I can do a lot of stuff compared to most of my contemporaries who do not run or exercise. 

RS: Why do you think it is important to run as we get older? How so?

Michelle: I think it depends as to whether health permits them to run at this age. All forms of exercise are good. Do it in moderation first. It can be done anytime, anywhere and alone. That’s why I like it so much. For me, especially trail running at MacRitchie Reservoir. Forest bathing is so good for the soul! 

RS: Do you recommend older adults and seniors take up running as a habit in their daily lives?

Michelle: I would highly recommend running for all seniors! Why? Once you are running again at this age, you will feel a sense of achievement. You will realise that your body is still very resilient and can still reach a lot of peaks. It’s not an expensive hobby. You can do alone or with friends. You can do it anywhere.

Most of all, your body gets fitter. And you are in control. Stop or slow down when you've had enough. Skip a day or two if you're tired, listen to your body.

RS: What does running mean to you?

Michelle: Running is fun to me. The minute I hit the trails, my spirit lifts! I can run daily if possible. It distresses me, too. 

You can follow Michelle on Instagram: @endlesssojourns

3. Yeow Lai Boon

Bio: Singaporean, 55-years-old, Running Sports Advisor, Retail

Is Running Suitable For Older Ages?
Runner: Yeow Lai Boon

In 2009, Lai Boon started to run for health reasons, walking and then running to and from his office. Soon, he embarked on his first ever Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon.

He went straight for 21K. As time went by, the persistent pain in his knee caps disappeared. He soon ran further and further. He felt happy and carefree in running. So, he registered for more marathons like SCSM, Sundown, Army half-marathon and more for about 21K and 42K.

In 2013, he dreamt of running an ultra-marathon. In 2015, he went for his first trails and ultras like MSIG50, Craze Ultra, TNF50, among others. Once you set your mind on what you want, nothing is impossible.

RS: What drives you to run on a regular basis, and how often do you run? Why?

Lai Boon: I feel happy and carefree when I go for a run. Usually, I run about 4 days a week. Short and slow runs about 3 to 5km. It is very therapeutic and relaxing for me after a hard day's work.

RS: How has running changed your lifestyle in your older age? 

Lai Boon: Before I took up running, I had persistent pain in my knees, especially when I climbed staircases. Then, there was high blood pressure to worry about, and I was a bit fat. The doctor gave me six months to assess my high blood and to follow up. However, after I started running, that all changed. I sort of got hooked on running as a form of exercise. I grew fitter, stronger, more alert and yes, more decisive.

RS: Why do you think it is important to run as we get older? 

Lai Boon: As we get older, it is even more important to run because running exercises most of the movement of the joints, and it helps you maintain your balance. You don't need to run fast or long, just consistency in running. Don't forget to drink plenty of water.

RS: Do you recommend older adults and seniors take up running as a habit in their daily lives?

Lai Boon: Yes, I would definitely recommend older adults and seniors take up running. You do not need to run fast or a long distance. Just be consistent in running to get those joints in tip top condition. You'll be surprised that most pain will go away. You'll sleep better, think better, move around better and react better.

RS: What does running mean to you?

Lai Boon: I have passed the stage when I want my personal best and to 'chiong' all the way. Running to me now is a form of exercise. To relax, enjoy the scenery and socialise with friends. Running helps me unwind after a day's work. It also keeps my blood pressure in check.

You can follow Lai Boon on Instagram: @yeowlb

If you are new to running, remember to start slow and enjoy your journey. On the other hand, if you are a veteran runner looking for a race to boost your training, join an online marathon with Spacebib and create more running memories together.

Samantha is an editor at RunSociety. A digital expert with a focus on the research and development of thought provoking and resourceful content, Samantha love Yoga and incorporate running in her weekly workout whenever she can.

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