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Ten reasons to do Half Marathons when you are over 60

October 11, 2013

1. You never have to exercise again!! I hate the word ‘exercise’  – makes me tired just thinking about it. For most of my life exercise made brief appearances and then quietly exited.  But ‘training’! That word is full of purpose and plans and promise. When I discovered that training for an event meant I didn’t have to ‘exercise’ – well, let’s just say I haven’t exercised in seven years!

2. You inspire people. You don’t know it when you are doing those training runs or are all by yourself at mile 8, but people love to see an older person out there just getting it done. It makes them think they can do it too. Or they think you are crazy. I always get inspired when an older person passes me!

3. You will win your age group. It is a matter of attrition, I tell myself. Some race, some day, the planets will align and I will win. It may be when I am 70 and not many women are left in my age group, (the attrition part!), but it will happen!

4. You destroy the skinny racer assumptions. Most people think the half marathon racer model is skinny and fast. I am neither. I am the half marathon endurance model. The one who has a menopause middle and has never seen an 8 minute mile up close. As half marathons have become more prolific and popular, many more of the endurance models are participating. Look for us at your next half marathon!

5. You meet a lot of friendly people. The community of people who participate, support, clap, and cheer are the nicest group on the planet. I wore my dad’s picture on my back last January at the Phoenix Rock and Roll  to honor his recent death. I stopped counting the number of people who said nice things as they passed me. I asked the Rock and Roll folks to help me get to the Vasco de Gama bridge for the Lisbon, Portugal race, and they put me on the first bus with the elite runners. The volunteers handing out water, total strangers who cheer you on, your friends who make this trek with you… well, all good. Everyone is on the same ground.

6. You stay healthy – and you get a great looking backside. We know all the reasons you should keep moving. But mostly I want to stay strong. I like having healthy knees and being able to turn my neck without twisting my whole body. And I am going to do everything I can to stay strong  because …

7. You can travel the world. There are half marathons everywhere, from Africa to Antarctica, from Portugal to Paris (and London, and Dubai, and …). I belong to the Half Fanatics who have 5000 global members. There is the Half Marathon Club that has the Fifty States Half Marathon Challenge – do one in all 50 states. You can plan vacations  – or retirement – around half marathons. What could be better? Oh, yes, the great looking backside!

8. The medals are cool. Most half marathons have a finisher medal and many have wonderfully artistic designs. 2013 Race for a Soldier Finisher's Medal

The medal from Race for a Soldier is an enlarged dog tag with a soldier silhouette. I have one that is a saguaro cactus from the Tucson Half. The Seattle Space Needle and a coffee cup adorn my inaugural Seattle Rock and Roll medal. I want to do the Williams Route 66 Half in Tulsa because the medal is inspired by the 1951 Pontiac Chieftain hood ornament. Enough medals? You can donate them to Medals for Mettle, an organization that gives medals to ill children in hospitals. That finisher’s medal not only signifies a personal accomplishment but can be recycled for a higher purpose.

9. Participation provides perspective. When you tell people you do half marathons, they usually ask how long that is. You tell them 13.1 miles. They ooh and ahh and say you are crazy and 13.1 miles is a long ways. But it really isn’t. 26.2 is a long ways! (I have done one marathon and it will stay that way.) A half marathon is a doable distance and training does not take up your whole life. But I let people think 13.1 miles is a really big deal and I am a superwoman!

10. You don’t have to run. A lot of people walk. Fast. It is better for your whole body if you walk or do a combination walk/run (look up Jeff Galloway). Your knees stay sane and you are significantly less likely to injure yourself. Healing takes longer as we age, and I do not want to get hurt. So I walk/run, except up hills – they are strictly for walking. Fast.

  1. Excellent. I am another over 60 half marathon runner. I agree with everything you say except #6. I don’t think running has done anything to improve how my backside looks, but you would have to ask my wife to be sure.

    • Thank you for the compliment! I guess you are talking about the backside … well, I agree it is not as good as it was at 40!

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