A Beginner’s Guide: The Best Way to Run a Mile After Age 50

Health and Fitness
the best way to run a mile after fifty

There was something inside me that just clicked when I hit my fifties. All of a sudden, I had an urge to try new things, to prove to myself that I could do something I’d never done before, to take risks. No, I wasn’t tempted to buy a flashy red sports car or go on an Eat-Pray-Love adventure, and no, I’m not going to call it a mid-crisis, because that’s simply not what it’s been for me. Turning fifty inspired me to do more and be more. It’s not a crisis, it’s a turning point, it’s a halftime pep talk, it’s a good thing. 

Just what I needed, in fact. 

Chase Dreams and Chase Away Doubts

Some of the new challenges I’ve embraced have been more on the professional side. I ventured into a new series, stepping away from a long-running and successful quilt-inspired series of novels. It was also time to focus on my relationships. I even chased a dream—I bought Glenda the Glamper, a fancy camper I renovated that turned out to be a nightmare). Lesson learned there.

One of the best things I’ve done in my fifties is take back my health and focus not only on healthy eating but on fitness. This summer, for the first time in Marie Bostwick history, I’ll be doing a triathlon. I know, that sounds super intense. But it’s the result of more than a year of training and countless motivational speeches in front of the mirror.

And the biggest takeaway for me is that I had to start somewhere. When you turn fifty, you realize that if there is a life goal you want to pursue, it’s probably a good time to start working toward it.

I had many doubts. Am I too old to start running? What if my trick knee acts up? Will the neighbors look at me running and say to themselves “What is that desperate woman running from? Is she lost?” 

The first run was the hardest. I might have cried. But aside from feeling winded and sore when I finished running for a minute, I thought to myself, “Heck YES!” I did it!

Three Secrets to Running After Fifty

I don’t exactly consider myself an expert on this subject so I called my friend Jane in San Antonio. She completed her first marathon at age 50 and has finished more than 20 half marathons since then (she says they’re more fun!). She’s also an attorney and mother of two. Talk about fierce

Here’s what Jane had to say about the best way to run a mile after fifty.

Once you put your mind to running a mile, start slow. To work up to it, she uses her secret recipe of alternating walking and jogging. So jog for a minute, then walk for a minute. Then jog two minutes, walk one minute. Gradually work yourself up to jogging for 10 minutes and walking one. Before you know it, you will be jogging a mile!

There’s two other secrets she mentioned which bring her energy and motivation. She runs with friends and looks forward to time spent together. Her pack also has started doing destination runs, her favorite so far being the Big Sur Half Marathon.  So if you can find a great group of friends to run with to keep each other accountable, and perhaps reward yourself with runs to fun parts of the country, it will be the right recipe for a new love of running.

Sage Advice from a Marathoner

My son is running his second marathon this weekend at the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. Talk about an over achiever. He finished his first marathon with an average pace of 8.5 minutes a mile and he is on track to cut that down to about 7 minutes, 15 seconds a mile this time around (which would qualify him for the Boston Marathon!). In fact, his friends call him the Gallopin’ Ghost (I think that is based on his speed and not his lily white legs). Okay, okay, I’ll stop bragging. Here’s the advice I was able to pull out of him when I asked him the best way to run a mile.

  1. Listen to music you love. (Side note: he prefers jarring heavy metal and I am more of a Broadway Hits type of gal).
  2. Run outside no matter the weather. It’s so much more enjoyable than on a treadmill.
  3. Make a plan and stick to it.
  4. Never underestimate the power of Tiger Balm.

Most of us aren’t going to be tackling a full marathon any time soon. But even tackling that first mile is an accomplishment to be proud of.

You’ve got this!

The Best Way to Run a Mile: A Guide for Beginners

Looking for the best way to run a mile? Here are a few tips from yours truly.

  • Always, always talk to your doctor first before taking on a new fitness plan. That one goes without saying.
  • Get the right pair of shoes. Don’t just buy pretty ones, don’t wear an old, worn out pair, don’t assume you know your size. Get shoes that are made just for your shape of foot and your gait to prevent injuries. Enlist a professional at a running store to measure you for the right size and assess your needs.
  • Keep it conversational. You shouldn’t exceed the pace or duration where you can no longer have a conversation. If you are having trouble talking to a running partner or are too winded to speak, you are pushing it too hard. Slow down.
  • Walking breaks aren’t a sign of defeat. This isn’t a race, Fierce Friends. Go at your own pace. Break when you need to. Come back even stronger.
  • Pair your new running routine with core strengthen exercises. When your core is weak, it opens the door for all sorts of injuries from over exertion. I find simple weight training, yoga, pilates, and barre to be really effective in strengthening my core and abs.
  • Be patient with yourself. This takes time, especially if you are started at square one. For some, that might be simply trying to walk to the end of the block.
  • Set small goals and celebrate them! One of the most amazing side effects of running for me has been the feeling I have when I reach a goal. There’s very few times in life when you get to celebrate your accomplishments that you worked hard to achieve. It’s not about anybody else or because of anybody else. It’s the fruit of your labor. Be proud!

Make a Plan and Stick To It

The best way to run a mile starts with a feasible plan. Here’s a sample running plan to get started.

Run Monday – Wednesday – Saturday.

  1. Stretch.
  2. Warm up with a 3-5 minute walk.
  3. Remind yourself that you can do this and tell the doubting voices in your head to pack a lunch.
  4. Run one minute, walk one minute. The, run two minutes, walk one minute. Run three minutes, walk one minute. Work up to ten minutes of running, one minute of walking.
  5. Cool down with a nice, slow walk. You might be proud here. It’s okay to strut.
  6. Stretch. I like to act extra intense here to make sure everyone around me knows I just did something extra physically exerting. “Oh wow, she must have just gone running or something!”
  7. Chug a ton of water.
  8. Let out the loudest, shrillest exclamation of joy for all to hear. Really make the neighbors jump. You did it!

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