You’re Never Too Old to Run

Sometimes people say things, and all you can do is stop, scratch your head, and say “huh?”

I feel like the time that this happens most often to me is when the topic is me running another marathon. While saying I’m a marathon runner might be a bit of an untruth, I have successfully finished the only two races I’ve ever attempted, which is an accomplishment I’ll be proud of for as long as I can still lace up my Asics.

While I was training for my first marathon two years ago, I had one of those head scratching “huh” moments while talking with my parents. My dad said something to the effect of “Are you sure about this? You know, people die from the stress of running marathons.”

Huh? Sure, every once in a while a marathoner dies while completing a race. And if legend holds true, the Greek soldier did drop dead after running from the Battle of Marathon to the assembly in Athens. But really, dad, let’s compare the ratio of marathon running fatalities to that of those who die of a sedentary lifestyle.

I think I’ll take my chances with running.

Turns out, I’m not the only person willing to take on the “inherent health risks” associated with marathon running. According to Joy Johnson, 84, the “risk” of running isn’t enough to keep her from continuing her streak of 24 consecutive New York City marathons. “I want to keep running as long as I can and drop in my running shoes when the time comes,” she recently told Janice Lloyd from the USA Today. Joy is one of 2,634 runners age 60 or older that is running New York this year.

The positive effects all this running has on these elder runners is impressive, to say the least. Ms. Johnson’s bones are so dense after 25 years of distance running that Stanford researches thought the results of a recent bone density test can back wrong. Not only were the results correct, but the strength of her bones is directly attributed to her healthy diet and physical exercise, as Johnson takes no bone strengthening supplements. Running, as well as most any type of higher intensity activity, has also been shown to improve cholesterol levels, muscle strength, and body composition, as well as a host of other effects. While there can be some aches and pains associated with running, the positive effects far outweigh and far outlast any negative ones.

The moral of the story is simple, you’re never too old to start running. As with anything, there will be some growing pains, but they are nothing that can’t be overcome. And whatever reason you may be hiding behind is just an excuse. Asked about the aches and pains she experiences, Ms. Johnson replies that she does have a little arthritis, but “who doesn’t over age 30?”

Kind of hard to argue with that logic, eh?

To read more about Joy and other older folks running for their health, check out the article here.


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