Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Do Runners Wear Out?

If you read this blog, then you know I label myself as a “newer runner.” It is like reading a description for a house you might buy and seeing it has “newer carpet.” This just means that the carpet is not brand new, it has some wear and tear, but it can hardly be classified as old, decrepit and used up. It also does not have the history behind it like a seasoned carpet would. It has not gone through all of the highs and lows that life has to offer.

Hence, that “newer” carpet, just like the “newer” runner, still has a thing to learn about the ways of the world.

{And no, I have no clue if the “newer” carpet matches the “older” drapes. I guess it depends on the dye job.}

In my short running career, many other runners I have met ran track and/or cross country in high school and college. These people intimidate me – they have some sort of competitive history I will never have. They have running experience and a broad running foundation that I will never know. They actually did more moving in college than just kicking up into a keg stand (this is where my gymnastics history came in handy).

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This is my dear friend, Julie, who ran in college.
Here she is a couple years ago
busting out a 1:36 half marathon.

Many times Ken and I have sat around, beers in hand, and questioned whether we would be stronger, faster runners if we had only started before we entered our fourth decade of life. Sometimes we even used it as an excuse: “Oh yeah. If I had started running right back then I would be on my way to London this summer for that big athletic event…what’s it called?” Oh, just get me another drink so I can dream on.

Perfect!

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Does starting earlier make you a stronger, better runner or does it simply wear you down? The New York Times addressed this exact issue yesterday in an article entitled, “Can Runners Have ‘Too Many Miles on the Tires?

Trouble is, the article basically said nothing, or maybe I am dense. I re-read it a couple of times, but still got nothing out of it. Seems there is no data to support whether those who have been running longer have better performance than those who started later in life.

One study of athletes over the age of 50 who participated in the national Senior Olympic Games found a small decline in performance up until the age of 75. Then, it went down hill fast after that.

Probably the only interesting tidbit from the article was that the majority of masters distance runners did not take up running until they were well into their 40s. This statement gives me hope.

What do you think?

When did you start running? High school? College? Not until after you had kids? I started running when I was 41.

How do you think when you started running affects your current performance, or does it? I have no clue. I think maybe if I had developed a base for running earlier in life I might be a better runner now. Or, maybe I would just be more injured. Who knows. See – I could have written the article.

SUAR

93 comments:

  1. I was 37 when I started.

    When I was younger ie, prechildren, I weighed A LOT less than now. Maybe if I had a running routine before kids I wouldn't be so out of whack now. I"m not really sure but just wishing I started sooner. But who knows maybe I would have been injury plagued at a younger age to.

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  2. Good question. I ran when I was a kid and then nothing until my 40's as well (43 to be exact). I also smoked a lot until I was about 35. I often wonder how fast I would have been had I ran all through my 20's and 30's (and didn't smoke), but then also wonder if I would have gotten injured...interesting question.

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  3. I started running almost exactly one year ago (I was 45 years old) and last night I ran 10 miles. I'm so surprised with how my running has come along. I've read so many running books, Runner's World, (and your blog) on how to be a smart runner and I've advanced my miles carefully. I feel amazing and I love running so much. I don't know why it took me so long to LOVE running- I always loved to workout, but never liked running until just last year. I hope I can run for the rest of my days.
    Kelly

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    1. Amen, sister!! I am the same way - running and I didn't start a love affair until much later in life, but now there is no turning back.

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  4. HA, I read the article and got the same thing out of it!

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    1. Oh good, I thought maybe it was just me.

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  5. I started the year I turned 40 and put on 25 pounds overnight (or so it seemed!). Like you, I wish I'd started sooner - but perhaps coming to running so late has made me appreciate it more than I otherwise would. And, when people tell me I'm going to wear out my knees or otherwise hurt myself, I just smile and tell them I haven't been running long enough to wear anything out.

    I just turned 50 and am celebrating my 10th running anniversary next month. I ran my first ultra (a 50k trail run) this past weekend and loved it! So far, so good. Here's hoping we're both still running and writing about it in 4 or 5 decades!

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  6. My boyfriend and I talk about this all the time! I've only been running regularly for the past two or three years (first 5k was October 2010, first 10k was May 2011, first half was September 2011), and I always feel like I would have been *so much better* doing this when I was younger. There are a couple of 20-somethings in my running group, and they have improved so much in the past few months whereas I feel like I'm about the same. Depressing. But maybe I'll focus on the fact that more wear and tear might mean I'm beat up more now.

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  7. I started last year, when I was 27. That's young to some but I had NO running history before that. The start was hard as I wasn't very active even before running. I wish I would have started even younger but I know it wasn't in the cards. My kids took up all my time from 20-27 :) They still take up most of it..I just know how to fit in a run now.

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  8. I weigh less now at 29 than I did at 12(5.0ft, 150lbs) and I am 8 inches taller. I was never an active child. I started running 3 years ago. Now I know I'm still young but I had a lot of mental barriers to exercise as well a body that had basically never really exercised a day in it's pudgy life. I often wish my tiny school had a track and field program and I had gotten into running at an earlier age. Hell even if I was a healthy weight as a child! No doubt I'd be further along than I currently am in my running goals. Currently aiming for a 1:45 half in a couple weeks but I wish I found my sporting niche 20 years ago :)

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  9. I played other sports and only took up running up after college and LOVE IT. Some of my friends that were runners in high school and college got burned out and aren't as excited about the sport anymore. They also tend to compare their current performances to their previous times (when they were being coached, running for college, etc.), which can be be dangerous in my opinion. They feel like they are getting slower or can never be as good as they once were.

    I am still learning about running and am still improving and I think that makes me a better runner. I have nothing to compare my times to and everything is new and exciting.

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  10. I started running right after college - first marathon in 1989 -- I ran a 3;30 in Montreal. In my 40s, 20 years later + after knee surgery I ran a 3:05 in 2007 - I am definitely smarter now that I am older - and maybe the tires do wear out eventually, but my body can still go fast and maybe faster. All my PRs in all distances have been in the past 5 years - I think starting earlier made me smarter, I vary the running, triathlons, mountain running and lately marathons & ultras so that I don't get bored with the challenges, but otherwise, I don't know either... :)

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  11. I read that article and wanted to base a blog post on it...but like you said, it said NOTHING! I couldn't get any material out of it!
    I am kind of a new runner. I never ran in high school or college, and I would do the occasional race as an adult - you know, no running for months, then run for 6 weeks to do a pathetic 10k, then back to no running. I signed up for my first marathon two years ago, and I had to become a "real runner" then to complete my training, but I did a terrible job and was injured the whole time (I also skipped about half my training schedule). It wasn't until after my second marathon a year and a half ago that I actually started running consistently.
    I find that those who were high school or college runners aren't afraid to go fast. If I see a 6 on my Garmin -even if it's followed by a :59 - I panic a tad. People who ran XC in high school expect to see miles under 7 or 6, so they try faster paces.

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  12. I started running when i was 33.

    If i started earlier i am sure i wouldn't be so over weight now. I never "worked out" when i was younger until i met my husband. I think i was 27 before i was much more active, but by that time i was already way overweight and struggling with it.

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  13. I ran in fits and starts during college, but didn't really get going with running until a few years after I had kids, at age 33. For as much as I love and need to run now, I can't believe I didn't start as a kid, but in high school I seriously couldn't pass the Presidential physical fitness test 1-mile run and was about 40 lbs. bigger than I am now. Sure wish I had started back then as I think I would have been a much happier, healthier and confident teenager who wouldn't have had the nickname "Big Butt" in high school! But, I guess on the flip side I'm a happy, condfident, fit mom of two who loves running, and for as injured as I always seem to be, I do believe that had I started earlier, I might have even more problems. For now, I plan to keep running until the proverbial wheels fall off!

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  14. Being sedentary wears a person out more, I think. Even with all of the injuries I've sustained (broken femur, foot, PF and all of the usual and typical runner's issues) over the past few years not one medical professional ever said to stop running, even if is at a snail's pace. In fact, they've all encouraged me to keep running.

    PS: My brother, age 55, who has run since high school, still places in the top 3 in his age group, and there's still plenty of competition in his age group, especially where he lives near San Francisco, CA. He's far from being worn out. :)

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  15. I think this is a lot like people who go to college later in life, they appreciate the gift of knowledge a bit more than those who continued from high school directly into college. I ran a bit in high school, doing x country when I could no longer play football due to a neck injury, then some in the military to stay in shape, but now getting back into it at 42/43. Most of my time was doing other sports that required soft skills like basketball, golf and baseball.

    For me, if you are athletic, you just are an athlete. Others, they have to work hard to do what comes easy to others. Like Lance Armstrong, he goes back to the Tour, finishes where others dream of and is considered a fail. Then he goes back to Tri's after years and finishes second, considered a fail.

    So it really isn't the miles on the tires, it's more about the gas in the tank and the size of the engine.

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  16. I started running at 30./ I hated to run in my 20's in the military. I have gotten faster in my 40's and this past year has been the best so far. At 45, I have broken the 2 hour mark on the half and the 25 minute on the 5k! I always wondered if I'd be better if I had run in school or took it seriously in the military.

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  17. I didn't start running until my early 30s and have always wished I had started in high school or middle school. I do think those runners have a bit of an advantage with muscle memory and just overall training knowledge. But we can't change that.

    Now, I will say--I am feeling extremely worn out right now, but that's b/c I am pretty anemic at the moment. It's getting me down!

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  18. This is interesting. Most of the time I wish I had started running earlier (I started as a gift to myself for my 39th birthday - I just turned 40 a couple of weeks ago). The mental aspect is SO MUCH BIGGER than folks realize. I had no problem walking or doing aerobics for exercise but run? Are you kidding me? I can absolutely pin-point why: In high school I couldn't even run a mile! I was thin but SO non-athletic. And no one - not one single gym teacher or "coach" - ever thought I would be able to do it. No one ever told me about "pace" or, you know, "breathing" while running. No one. Every once in awhile during a run (OK, almost EVERY run) I can picture that pathetic girl trying to get through the 4th lap before 20 minutes. She never did it. Now I regularly consider taking a photo of my laced-up shoes with the chip attached and my middle finger sticking out and e-mailing it to Mr. Bixler (my gym teacher).

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    1. Yes, that's why I never ran either. I had no clue how to pace myself and would always end up winded and annoyed within the first 10 minutes, then quit.

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  19. I started doing road races with my dad when I was in the "5 and under" age group. Then I ran cross country starting in 7th grade until I graduated. I ran for my college as well. After college, I quit running for a while and gained about 25 lbs. 10 lbs of that was probably good to gain, the next 15... not so much.

    I'm gradually getting back into running, but I feel like I've put so many miles on my legs, they just don't recuperate like they used to (I'm 28!!). I just run a few miles 2-3 days a week for now. I'm hoping it's the extra weight and probably a changed running form that makes me hurt. So my plan is to very, very, very gradually increase my miles as I can.

    My point is that I think it depends on body type if you can have too many miles. People like SkinnyRunner seem to be able to run endlessly, while there are some (like me) who have chronic problems, such as shin splints, to contend with.

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  20. For me, running was much easier on my body when I was in hugh school and college. I was about 30 pounds lighter then though. Now that I am much fatter and slower it's still enjoyable, despite the "jiggle", and the knees have their good and bad days. The hardest part about running, and exercising in general, is that I CANNOT seem to lose any fat, no matter how many calories I take in vs burn. All my clothes still fit the same around the waist/thighs, etc. It's very frustrating! And depressing...

    I've decided to train for a triathlon sprint. The one good thing is that all my stubborn fat will help to keep me afloat during the swim. Sad but true.

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  21. Interesting question. I've run (jogged) as a way to keep in shape for about 25 years. Didn't train for and run a marathon until I was 39. I don't think there's a limited number of miles on our tires, but I think there's a limit to the interest and passion if you've been running for many, many years. It's the 'newness' of running races that is so appealing to me now. Just ran my first-ever 5K at 40. Also my first 200-mile relay and first 50k at 40. I don't think it would be as interesting or exciting to me if I had been doing races for the last 10 years. I do, however, think I'd be a better runner, and a lot smarter about training and not ending up injured.

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  22. I started running when I was 45 and I will be 50 this year! I have gone through the stupid beginner mistakes and train smart now. I don't think I would have done the same thing 25 years ago. I have gotten much faster than when I started. I def. think we have to train differently than a younger person (more recovery) but I believe the sky is the limit. I will be the 90 yr. old granny out there kicking arse. AKG :)

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  23. I was a high school athlete. Varsity tennis. I use the term athlete loosely because back in my day, most high school sports did not seem anywhere NEAR crazy competitive as they are now. That being said, I was mobile, active, athletic. I can't say any of that has helped me now as a runner in terms of being a better athlete now. I think some people are just born to run, some are born to swim, some are born to ski, etc. We all have different talents. I'm finding that I am actually a pretty decent runner and never knew that when I was younger. I also have more power of discipline now as an adult than I did in high school. I know A LOT of people who did high school track & field and are now overweight couch potatoes. I think you are as good as you are now based on the effort you put into it NOW, not any effort you put into it 30 years ago :-) And you are a darn good runner! I'm still aiming to try coming even a smidge close to your paces!

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  24. I've been running a little over two years (I'll be 56 next month, woohoo!) I just ran my 7th half marathon two weeks ago. It wasn't pretty, but I finished. I'm on this 50 halfs in 50 states kick...hope I can do it. I can relate to the injury thing, I've had a neuroma in my left foot, almost since the beginning of my running "obsession". I've been to the podiatrist many times, exrays, etc. Said it doesnt seem like "classic" neuroma, because, I don't have the pain that most people do. Suggested that surgery may be only option for pain since cortisone shot made it worse! I got shoe inserts to "lift" the metatarsals and shortly thereafter developed a "twinge" in the outside of my left knee as well as getting a huge callus on my big toe. Removed the inserts, callus healed almost immediately, even neuroma seemed to improve somewhat, but, pain on side of knee continues. Knee pain and neuroma seems to only bother me with higher mileage, and both ailments kicked in hard at the last half mile of my last race. I haven't run since then (2weeks now). Not sure where to go from here, maybe next doc visit needs to be an orthopedic specialist. I love running, and just want to get these pain issues resolved. Wishing you pain free running!

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  25. I started running at 14 and I'm 48 now. I've gotten a lot slower. I don't know if it's that I just got tired of track workouts and tempo or that I really am slowing down due to age. Hard to say. I raced a ton and no longer feel like it anymore. My running has evolved to: without a watch, where I want, when I want. I do miss being fast, but I don't miss being obsessive, like I was. I also do think it can break your body down, especially if you run on pavement exclusively. Good topic!

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  26. I started at 27 after kids...actually I've only been running since last Thanksgiving, LOL! So I would be considered NEW carpet :)

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  27. I started running at 38 and a half. (Yeah, most people stop counting the halves when they're about five.) I never thought I could run and never knew it was something we (or at least I) had to learn to do. That endurance was something you had to build up. I thought there were athletes... and the rest of us.

    A year and a half later, I'm not that good of a runner, but I have picked up a couple of medals. I don't think I'd have become an elite runner no matter when I'd started running... I have a build like a pitbull, not a greyhound. On one hand, it would have been nice to have not spent my first 38 years thinking I was born to be a couch potato, but on the other hand, learning to become a runner when I did gave my self-esteem a much needed boost at a low point in my life.

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  28. Geat topic. I've thought a lot about this.

    I know a ton of guys who were really good in college and the idea of doing a weekend road race is just not that appealing. One buddy who ran for Purdue still runs for fitness but in his words "Why should I kill myself to run an 18 minute 5k?"

    He's not being a speed snob, it's just that after years of 100-mile weeks and 14 minute 5k's against good competition, the idea of even a big road race isn't too compelling.

    I would also agree that it seems like all the top Master's runners were recent running converts.

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    1. this is a really interesting viewpoint. I started running at 50 (after walking and making my way UP to the C25K) and have found I LOVE triathlons. My first 1/2 (and only) mary and my first (and only) marathon were both at the end of triathlons. I'm not sure I'd be able to do one stand alone.
      I really enjoy running though and at my age, almost every run now is a PR. :) I broke an hour in the 10K and this weekend PR'd my 5K (at the end of a triathlon) and am really happy with those times. There is also that senility thing going where every run is a PR because you don't remember older (like a MONTH AGO) times. :)

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  29. I did run in middle and high school but it didn't stick. It wasn't until well after college (and 6 years of smoking and heavy drinking) that I had to whoop my own butt back into shape. I re-started at 22 but didn't *really* solidify myself as a runner until 24. I'm glad I got back into when I did before having a child. Starting later might be more challenging, but running at all is better than not, I'd say. Physiologically, yes, you might face more aches and pains, but there are things that can be done to offset the stress of running, like strength training. I think it is AWESOME that during a time when I notice a lot of people start to slow down, you decided to try to pick up the pace!

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  30. I started running after college, when I got really interested in health and fitness and started going to the gym more taking a lot of group fitness classes. I started training with a running group and eventually built up enough endurance to run half marathons and then moved on to the marathon. I do think some runners that started in high school or college have more of that competitive edge but I think it just depends on if they continued on with the sport or they just discontinued, maybe due to burn out or for whatever reason, which many of them do. But I don't think it's impossible to start at a later age and get good over time with the right amount of (smart) training and dedication. I do think genetics plays a huge part as well though.

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  31. Hi. My first time visiting your blog today. I started running less than four years ago. I am 47 and holding. God willing, I will run the rest of my life! I KNOW one thing. Had I started running earlier in life, I am sure that I would not have struggled with being overweight my whole life.

    Also, I always hear people saying oh, running is not good for you, ruins your knees. Really? Well, not running will cause other parts of my body to wear down, like my heart! AND if I had not taken the weight off, partly thanks to running, my knees would wear down a lot quicker and I would possibly be facing knee replacement surgery at a fairly young age!

    So anyway, that's my take on it. LOVE YOUR BLOG

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    1. Welcome! You make some great points - better to be out there and active rather than making excuses for not doing stuff like "it's bad for my knees," (which is quite debatable anyway). Congrats on taking the weight off and keeping it off.

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  32. i walked my first two 1/2 marathons and thought that was good last year this year I am acatually training to run/walk (yes I am slow) and my event is next month. I am actually starting to feel like a runner and at age 46 I feel good about that. I wished I would have started earlier I think it would be easier to do and with less injury. I started out the season a little to hard to fast and had some injuries so I backed down a bit and doing the run/walk thing and improving little by little. I am on track to betting my last time by half and hour which I feel good about.

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  33. I guess technically I started running when I was 24 and was trying to get in some kind of shape to be able to run 2 miles when I left for basic training at 25. However, I quit running not long after basic/tech school because it was no longer mandatory. But last summer, at 41, my friend Molly convinced me to join a running club. I have hope that at some point I will be able to run farther than a mile. LOL

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  34. I ran for 3 years in high school and was mediocre at best. No real drive, I was on the team for fun and because no one got cut from track and cross country. I started again a little over 2 years ago at age 45. I am running longer distances and enjoying it much more plus I love the sense of accomplishment that comes from finishing a half-marathon. The medal I received for completing my first half last year is the first sports "trophy" I ever earned. I'm not fast but I am determined.

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  35. I often wonder this myself. I'm a newer runner, too. I've always wondered if I started in high school, would I be a better runner, a faster runner, etc?

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  36. Started at 47...will move to a new age group next year so that puts me at 2 1/2 years running...I often wonder how much better I might be if I hadn't smoked my youth away?

    What I do know is this; I am in the best shape of my life, physically and mentally...and it is all because of the running, and I wouldn't change a thing!

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  37. I started running in 5th grade and I'm nearly 43 now. I'll never be a state champ or the one to watch for in any given race, unless it for my age group in a small, local race and the real talent doesn't show up. I think it's really natural to wonder what if, even if you've been running most of your life. Even though I started early I still wonder what would have happened if I'd had a better coach in high school. If I hadn't been so interested in having fun in college. If I hadn't taken time off in my 30s so now my sister is faster than I am. What I look for now is those older than I am who still bring it to every practice. One of my inspirations is a gentleman in his 60s. He started running just a few years ago because the doc told him to change his lifestyle or start on drugs, because he wasn't going to last much longer without one of those options. He's now the fastest 5k runner over 60 in the state. Late bloomer and kicking our butts.

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  38. I've been running nearly 31 years now and have done more than a 100 ultras (114) and more than 100 marathons (127). In total I've done 1361 races over the years. The only thing I can say is that all the ultras made me slow but I don't get injuries. It made me "road hard" as well. My dad ran his first marathon at 52 and ran 3:34. He did his marathon PR of 3:12 when he was 55. He ran ultras up to age 69. he is now 82 and still run/walk 10km 5 times per week.

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  39. I am also a "new" runner, having started 5 years ago at age 32. I've read several times that older does not necessarily mean slower (thank you, Deena Kastor!) and that you hit your stride with running, so to speak, after 10 years.

    I have noticed my improvement over the years but also notice that those who are much younger than me improve their running quicker- in other words, their bodies are fresh and less prone to injury and their hangovers don't last 2 days like mine do. Also, they can go ahead and get all fast all quickly and easily, just go ahead... come talk to me after you've had a baby or two!

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  40. Interesting topic. I ran cross country and track in 9th grade and had to give it up because I was in a professional training program for the ballet company I was taking classes at. I'd like to think I have a strong athletic base, but it didn't work out that way. I started running post second kid. I hadn't worked out other than on demand and pilates videos for about 5 years. It took me six months to build up to the point where I could run 3 miles. I've improved my pace and endurance a lot in the last two years and would be a lot further along had I not injured myself twice in a 6 month period.

    I'm more curious how this related to kids. my 7 yr old is in track. he is a strong 400m runner but we are working on getting him in the 1500m. I wonder how hard to push him at this age, does hard work early on really give much advantage vs those that don't start running two or three years from now? How much of his improvement comes from training, or just from growing and getting stronger/longer legs?

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  41. I started running when I was 12 the summer Terry Fox started his run across Canada. I was so inspired! I ran middle and high school x-counry and track and nordic skied in college. This summer I turn 46 and the only time I stopped were for my 2 pregnancies. (Holy crap I never did the math till now 34 years of running!) Surprisingly I actually haven't slowed down that much over the years I just have to rest that much more. I love running I don't know what I would do without it!!

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  42. I started as an adult in my mid-twenties. I've often wondered the same thing but I've heard people refer to runners wearing out by the later years if they ran as kids or in college.

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  43. The article was interesting but said a whole lot of nothing, really. I'm a newbie runner; I started two years ago at the age of 55 (see? even older than when you started!). I KNOW the reason I never ran before, because no one ever told me you could LEARN to run and get better. I was always the slowest one in class, so of course I didn't want to run. Do I wish I had started sooner? You bet; I probably would not have gained so much weight over the years. No matter, I'm running now, I've lost 105 lbs., and plan to keep running the rest of my life, God willing.

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  44. I started running only 4 months ago! I've just turned 28. I never ran before, I did a bit of long-distance cycling, but running just scared me a lot, and after I dislocated my kneecap 4 years ago I honestly didn't think I would ever be able to even attempt to run after that.

    My boyfriend has been running for a few years and I watched him finish his 1st half marathon last year. I was a smoker for about 10 years too, so I kind of thought I'd never be able to kick that either. But I did kick it about 6 months ago, and unbelievably, I'm running. I feel so much better than this time last year, mentally and physically. I guess I got bit by the bug!

    I'm aiming for maybe a 5km by the end of the summer, maybe a 10km by this time next year. I know it's teeny tiny baby steps, but I want to make sure I don't stress my old knee injury out, cause the surgeons took a chunk of my patella out as it broke off when the dislocation happened. So I guess I am being a little cautious.

    Anyway, I love your blog!
    Rebecca

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  45. I am a new runner...I started walking 10 1/2 months ago managed to pick up the pace and now I run...considering 2 important factors plus 1...1.MY HISTORY: I gave birth to 8 kids, I started at 53 and 225 lbs. 2. MY ROUTE: Any wherever I go 1/2 my run is uphill! The plus 1...I HATE IT, but I do it and figure I only have to run 25 years before I'm done forever. (I follow the Reluctant Runners blog too http://www.reluctantrunners.com/2011/06/21/new-to-reluctantrunners-com-start-here/) In fact here I sit stalling. Nevertheless I will SUAR today too! I read every post!

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  46. Would've, Should've, Could've!...I briefly ran when I was 13 or 14. I ran a couple of 10ks and was in the jogging club in junior high. I don't know why I stopped but often think that if I had kept it up it would have helped me to better navigate those tumultuous teenage years and to be a stronger runner today. I picked it up again at the age of 41 (I'm now 43). I just suffered my first injury three weeks ago and this is the longest I have gone without running since starting again. I miss it! It's depressing to not be able to run. I'm awating an ortho referral and hoping my knee/quad can be treated conservatively and successfully. In the meanwhile, I'll torture myself with the what ifs!

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  48. First off, I KNOW you have a keg stand photo. We the readers demand to see it!

    Most of my ultrarunning friends started running in high school (and earlier). They are all faster and their training is focused - they know speedwork, tempo and other workouts by heart.

    I didn't start running til after college. In fact in college I was so lazy I didn't want to walk to and from campus (5 blocks)!

    I don't think starting earlier wears runners out. I think some runners wear themselves out because they won't stop (for long enough) when they get injured. Do that enough times and you won't be running forever.

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    1. just saw this comment and totally agree - that was the point I was trying to make in a long drawn out fashion. ;)

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  49. I don't think that starting earlier wears runners out. You just have to be smart, because otherwise you can get injuries due to overuse. I was a fair weather runner for a long time (2 miles at a time, 1-10 x a month), but didn't start seriously running until I was 28. I feel like I am in better shape now than I was when I was in High School! I am faster and stronger!

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  50. I've heard conflicting things too. Mainly I choose to believe the ones that work in my favor & ignore the others! I ran track/cross country in high school & then took a bunch of time off, so in spite of my (mildly) competitive background, I still feel like I didn't *really* start running until my late twenties. At that point I was almost like a beginner & was kind of start all over again. I would say the biggest difference running track/cross country made for me is that I got used to enduring serious pain/discomfort every day, and it made me VERY physically tough. I think I can sometimes beat people who may be technically be able to run faster than me because I am more willing to suffer.

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  51. I hope we don't all wear out. I still have hope for transplant-able bodies.
    I didn't start running until about a year ago.
    I was a big swimmer in high school, but I never liked the running sports. Its really hard to find cheap pools that are dedicated to lap swimming. Running is so much cheaper.

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  52. I began running in H.S. and haven't stopped (except the last few weeks of my preganancy 25 years ago) for over 40 years. My body is fine-my respiratory isn't as strong but I supplement running with swimming/cycling/yoga/weights - all so I can keep on running.
    I find it to be more of a mental thing than physical as I age-but I still love to get out there at age 58.

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  53. I started running at 24, my 24th birthday actually. I think I'm getting better as I go. I just PR'd twice in the past month after having me daughter. Maybe giving birth gave me faster running powers. Who knows. I've always been told that your 30s and 40s are your peak running ages as a woman. I'm hoping that's true and my best is yet to come.

    My awesome mother-in-law started running in her 40's and is still running marathons now at 60. No sign of stopping. She's slowing down but still rocking her age group.

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  54. I had no interest in running. Ever. Then I started running at 31. I've been running almost 4 years. I wish I would have started sooner. I could have used the stress management in my early 20's.

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  55. I tried to run with friends a few different times over the years, but I always let breathing issues (and my stupid thoughts on failure) stop me and was scared to push past that. But something about turning 50 changed that. Now at 51, I have done one full and two half marathons with another half coming up this weekend. It is still hard as hell and I have many days where I am coughing so badly that I can't even make it a mile. But then I will be a good day and that feeling is just AWESOME!! So had I pushed sooner would I be a better runner now? ...maybe...maybe not. I can't always PR and I'll never see a winner's podium, but just being out there is something I hope to enjoy for some time to come.

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    1. Deb, so glad you are still out there running!! Yours is truly an inspirational story given some of the obstacles you have had. You have really pushed through. Good luck this weekend! Miss talking to you!

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  56. Am I the onnly one who's wondering where you got a drink the size of your face?

    awesome.

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    1. San Antonio River Walk. Party time.

      Or New Orleans. Or I just buy a fishbowl and make one at home.

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  57. I started when I was 41. I am 43 now. Even if this was just less than 2 yrs ago ( and 75 lbs ago!) to me it feels longer. I wish I had started this sooner. I can say that I am happier now than I was 5 yrs ago. I was lost before.

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  58. I started at 30-something, after baby #7. Must have been about the same time as you because I'm just past the 3yrs running mark. :) I've been thrilled to see the improvement I've made since starting, and how awesome it's been to run through pregnancy. (yes I have a lot of kids)
    I'm excited to see what running holds for me in the decades ahead! One of the 5ks I did recently I picked out an older guy to pace me when I realized in the beginning what pace he was running. I have no shame in admitting that my goal was to keep his white hair in my sights! Granted that's partly because I'm super pregnant, but still... Anyway, I spoke with him after the finish line so I could thank him and tell him how much I admire that he's still going and found out that he's 82. 82!! And still running a sub30 5k. Awesome. I hope I'm still running at 82.

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    1. I have 8 kids...I am 53 now and started running less than a year ago...well I started walking less than a year ago. Yesterday, 5/19, I ran 5.25 miles! Amazing! Keep up the great job you're doing...running and BABIES!

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  59. I started when I was 39, only two years ago.... I'm planning on doing a marathon in about 18 months... for me it's all about state of mind.... I couldn't have started any sooner, I just wouldn't have stuck with it and had the discipline required... smoking and drinking ruled my life. Now I feel like I haven't missed out on anything - I'm not competitive with my running (except with myself) I've learned not to worry about how fast or far anyone else runs - it only brings disappointment and negative feelings. It's about me and my achievements.

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  60. started running in high school and haven't stopped since-going on 41 years. Body feels fine-just have to do more yoga and massages and strength training to keep it moving. It's more mental for me getting up to race. Just haven't had the "urge" lately.

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  61. I am a "newer" runner too and plan on sticking around for many years to come. I consider myself fairly slow now so I will only fit in more as I age... plus, I have a chance of winning stuff when I am 70! hehehehe

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  62. 49 or so is when I started. Along with biking more seriously.
    Could I be running faster if I'd started sooner? Probably.
    Considering that a fast walk used to leave me breathless, I'd say the running (and biking) has had a pretty good impact on my current performance.

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  63. Great timing on this post! I read that article yesterday and thought the same thing you did. What is the point here? Yes or no? Anyways, I started running when I turned 30. It was a bad time in my life, I couldn't get pregnant, was having panic attacks and all the partying I did in my 20s wasn't translating well to my 30s. I started working out, and somehow started to run...and loved it. I have been injury free and a fully functioning adult since then...until now...I turned 49 last year and think I over did it all little bit...5 half marathons and a full (my first, and at this rate, my last...). I was reflecting on all this with my foot doc today as he was putting a needle full of steroid into my heel.

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  64. I ran a bit in college, but mostly just to get from point A to point B. I started really running, though, two years ago. Wow, two years! After college. After kids. Almost 40. I think that by starting older, I started (go ahead and start laughing now) wiser than if I'd just let loose on it in my 20's.

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  65. I don't know if it is better to have started running later in life or to have always been a runner. I think it is natural to say "what if" to most situations.

    I started running at 41 as well. I started with C25K and haven't looked back. Fresh from my bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, I was feeling powerless, broken, and weak. Running has given me back my power and helped me feel strong again. I am not sure if I would better runner if I had started sooner. I do know that I found running when I needed it and was ready for it. I had never run a step in my life before the first day of C25K. I didn't think I could and honestly did have any desire to until that day. I am not going to win any races, but it doesn't matter. The fact that I get out there every day is a win enough for me.

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  66. interesting subject. I started running when I turned 50 a few months ago. I placed in my AG in my first ever 4 running races(2 -3rd place finishes and 2 - 1st place finishes). It's NOT because I'm fast - it's because the difference in number of participants drops dramatically from the 40-49 AG to the 50-59 AG.

    I am a member of Allsports Recovery in Boulder and as I sit in the compression boots every day - I see/hear day in and day out people that have been life long runners. It's an interesting place to hang out as so many elite runners are members. And it seems the life long runners in their 40s tend to be so plagued by injuries they are unable to run after 50. The story I hear again and again is they attempted to run through injury or tried to come back from injury to quickly and as result they can't regain their running health.

    I take this a warning and place close attention to my body. If I'm injured - I'll do what it takes to recover for as long as it takes in order to keep running in the future.

    Sounds like you are doing everything you can to heal from injury. With patience, I'm sure you'll be running way into the next AG and beyond!

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  67. The comments are very encouraging! I didn't start running until last Spring after my then second grader joined her school's run club. The first year was rough! So mental! I struggled with three attempts at a C25K program; it wasn't until January of this year that things started to click. I'm excited that my mileage is hitting 8-10 miles a week. I look forward to the day that I can say my Saturday run was 8-10 miles! Here's to being more fit and active at 33 than I have EVER been in my skinny-fat life. :) All thanks to an active couple of kiddos. Momma's gotta keep up!

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    1. Oh! I have to tell you. I happened across your blog after my third failed attempt to get through a C25K program. I was frustrated after Google took me to runner blog after runner blog and no one really had a 'I struggled and sucked, too' story. Out of frustration, I just typed into the search box 'shut up and just run'. Voila! Shut Up + Run appeared. LOL

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    2. Glad you found us!! This is such a supportive community; hope you will be back!

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  68. i'm a new runner as well...i've run on and off over my life but never really stuck to it, but started running consistently in 2008 at the ripe old age of 39. sometimes i wish i had found the love of running earlier in life, but i think it came and found me when i needed it most (crazy stressful period of my life) and that's probably why i've fallen harder for running than i would have otherwise. i don't think that running earlier wears the body out if we train smart and look after our bodies proactively to avoid injuries.

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  69. I was JUST talking to my mom about this. As a solid runner who was setting records early in my high school career I flat out quit when I was getting good. What?!? I always wonder if I'd have gotten a scholarship in college and if I hadn't waited until my 30's to really get back. But...you'll never know. I just like to think my legs are that much younger :)

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  70. Started at age 29. First marathon at age 31. Ran 25 marathons (PR: 3:07). Half-Marathon was always my favorite distance (PR: 1:26). Three ultras: easier and more fun than marathons! Hundreds of shorter races (10K PR: 40:20; 5K PR:18:55). Over time, my pace in races and in training slowed gradually but inexorably. I first noticed this when I was 44. My point is this: age will affect your times but you can still run with the same intensity and reap the same physical and emotional rewards. You just need more recovery time, especially after long runs, and the common sense to back off and take days off in order to remain injury-free. Don't speculate about starting too late in life. Just live and run in the present and savor every moment. Never look back. Every day is a gift.

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  71. I would say that how it affects a body would depend on the individual and how that person treated their body. Some bodies are more 'durable'...whether as a longevity thing or a training intensity thing. Not only is there the physical aspect but the mental one, too.

    I began running as cross-training for rowing when I was in my twenties. I ran some in my early to mid thirties and then stopped. I'm running again and am nearly 50. I have a competitive background but not necessarily in running. Shit...It's late and I don't know what I'm trying to say... Other than I think it really depends on the individual.

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  72. Great Post and even Greater comments!! I just started running in November of 2011 at age 44, and I was hoping that because I started late, I would be able to get in at least a good 15 years before injuries!! Ha! I am feeling the pains already. My motto has always been "moderation in everything you do", so I will be practicing what I preach with running.

    I am so excited to find lot's of new blogs through this post of women and men in my age group. I get tired sometimes of reading the trials and tribulations of the 20 year olds and their dogs (not that there is anything wrong with that...I was there once too!!)

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    1. Good point. Sometimes "comparing" to the 20 year old crowd is like apples and broccoli.

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  73. Awesome post!

    I started running at 23 when I met my husband. I just wanted to keep up with him I guess. First time he took me for a run in Shanghai - I could not run half of the block. I was dying. I hated it.

    Week later he took me to a running store, bought me running shorts and my very first running shoes. Three months later I quit smoking for good. A year later I got certified as a personal trainer.
    Since then I ran over 30 races - 3 marathons, 1 ultra and several halfs. I have my own little studio where I encourage my clients to go out there and run;-)

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  74. I did my first 5k at age 18 with zero running in my history. I am 24 now and have a bunch of races under my belt. For me personally a healthier childhood would have given me a better foundation now since I struggle with my weight from a childhood filled with junk and trying to teach my body what is healthy is tough stuff. I wish I had done more active stuff when younger, but hey, nothing I can do about it now :)

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  75. I started at age 7 because my dad loved running and wanted the family to do it. I never ran more than a 5K race. I ran Cross Country and pulled my groin muscle adn stopped running. I wish I learned to love it then.

    I started back up about a year and a half ago and I'm 41 now. I can't say I love it but I do love the accomplishment that I think I took for granted when I was younger. I did it because I had to and I was good at it, but I never worked for it if that makes sense. Now I have my first Marathon just around the corner and I can't wait to have that accomplishment. I do regret not taking that base my parents gave me and living it out, but I think me deciding to run on my own now has made me a stronger runner, if that makes sense....

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  76. I've been running since I was 12 or so. (I'm 28 now.) My parents are both runners too. I was never good enough to be competitive; it was just a way of life.
    Now I love running and enjoy it whether I'm running 50 miles at a time or 2. I have lofty goals but also go through months when I'll run just 10-15 miles a week, just for fitness.
    It's become a habit and although I'll never feel that newbie rush (like when you first fall in love), I know I'll always run. It's like the ol' ball and chain :)

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  77. I started running when I was really young... and competitively when I was in Jr High. I ran distance for 6 years, then stopped. I think starting early has instilled the need/love to run, but I don't feel like I'm any stronger for starting early. I'm running again, and have been for a few years. Maybe it just gave me an early understanding of the importance of learning how to pace w/o a garmin (I don't even know how to use one!), and what good running form is.

    I don't think that runners wear out. Once you start running, and get into it, it's something that I believe will always call you back, and you'll have.

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  78. Angela and I have this conversation all the time! She's been running since she was 12 and I started running in college. She is 4 years older than me, plus she has many more years of running on her body. Needless to say, I am always the injured one, but she is the one constantly complaining of aches and pains and how hard it is to get out of bed every morning. Her knee is like bone on bone and she needs like half an hour to warm up properly (so annoying). She will probably need a knee replacement and hopefully I will luck out since I started a bit later in life. :) One can only hope...

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  79. people love to tell me that I won't be able to walk when i'm older due to the running, but as of yet I haven't seen any science to back that up either!

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  80. Several women I know started running in their forties. They are my inspiration!

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  81. I actually started running about 4 years ago. I shattered my ankle and was in horrible pain. My surgeon told me I was babying it and he was right (dang it I hate that!). I started walking and then running and am in love. The days I run are the ONLY days my ankle doesn't hurt and I will be forty next week. I grew up with a PE teacher who tried to get me to exercise and I hated it. I resented her for trying to make me like her things but in reality she was trying to keep me healthy. So my feeling is we run for a reason and when it's right, regardless of age. I wasn't "ready" and didn't want to be pushed into it and now I love it because I found my own personal thing that drives me daily!

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