How to Run Pain Free as You Get Older

How to run pain free as you get older

After taking a couple years off due to runners knee, and “restarting” running at 34 (seven years after my first start), I’ve noticed some things are different. (And I haven’t even had kids, I’m sure that adds an additional layer of change.) If you want to keep running pain-free, there are a few new habits you can take on.

When I was in physical therapy a couple years ago, my therapist, who was himself a runner and a few years older than me, told me that the older you get, the ratio of “time spent running” to “time spent doing everything else just so you can run” will shift. As in, you’ll spend less time running, and more time stretching, foam rolling, ice bathing, getting massages, etc, just to run the same mileage.

He wasn’t lying. This is how I’ve dealt with it:

do yoga to run pain free

Take up yoga to keep muscles loose

For me, it’s so much easier to go to class 1-2 times per week and be forced to stretch for an hour than to try to find the time to do it on my own throughout the week. But I still try to find time to stretch throughout the week.

Bonus: You’ll get all bendy and can strike a cool pose 103 floors above the city. 

 

do strength training to run pain free

Strength training to fix muscle imbalances

Strong glutes (and a strong core) are the key to preventing so many runner pains and injuries that seem to pop up out of nowhere even if you’ve been able to run pain-free for years. You can train yourself, or, if you need external motivation, sign up for classes or hire a personal trainer. Weight lifting, CrossFit, barre, pilates, and pilates reformer or megaformer classes are all good options.

Bonus – even if you are targeting your core and glutes, your arms will still get a workout and you’ll have quite the gun show happening. 

And, plug – A ClassPass membership is an easy (and affordable) way to access various fitness studios across your city, including yoga, Pilates, barre, megaformer, weight lifting and CrossFit. Plans start at $40/month.   

 

foam rolling to loosen tight muscles

Foam rolling to alleviate tight muscles

Foam roll daily or at least as often as you run. I like the Trigger Point roller. I also like using The Stick to supplement my rolling, especially on my calves and bottoms of my feet. Additionally, a good massage can do wonders. If you’re in Chicago, I recommend Leo at L&A Healing Studio in the South Loop. The space feels very calming and new age, but he is not afraid to get rough with all your knots and tightness. Plus he has tons of knowledge on how to treat your body.

Bonus – your body will feel good and hopefully, you’ll be relaxed. 

 

proper running form

Check your ego and accept your current performance

After dealing with runners knee (seemingly out of nowhere), I’m just happy to be running pain-free, period. I don’t care what my pace is these days or if I have to take walk breaks. But, I know what my pace used to be. And it was fun to set PRs. So now I like to think this is my Running 2.0, so I have a clean slate to chase PRs 2.0.

Bonus – stopping to catch your breath means a chance to take a run selfie.  

 

How has your running changed as you’ve gotten older?

 

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7 Comments on “How to Run Pain Free as You Get Older”

  1. I think I’m on Running 5.0. It doesn’t get easier. I spend a lot time rolling. Stretching. Icing. Band work. Legs up the wall. Yoga. Just started back to CrossFit for strength work, my core is shot from all my back issues. And as of yesterday I started speed & tempo back up. And I feel I’m going to die. I’m attempting to run a faster marathon this fall. But I just may have lost my give-a-damn when it comes to pace. We’ll see. I plan to run with a smile on my face no matter how it plays out. I want to run healthy . Period.

    1. LOL Running 5.0. I love it!! I just want to run healthy as well. I’m happy to just be able to lace up and get out there. Being forced to not run really changed my priorities.

  2. I’m the worst! I only do stuff when it hurts and that’s when you’ve let it go on too long. I need to get better at these things!

  3. Ik run since 2007 and I am 55 now. Ik do 2 tot 3 marathons a year. Ik take it easy at the pace and do only little speedtraining. I spend a lot of time tot build up the kms and starter swimming as cross training. Ik agree on your yoga and powertraining advice. Further I look better on the intake of food, drinkschaal and sleep. Getting eiser 😉

  4. Good article. I am turning 30 this September and I can’t believe all the young ones nowadays are outpacing me in when I run in marathons. Being a Londoner, means I have walked everywhere. I cant rely on transport to get to me places as traffic is a nightmare outside the M25.

    Running especially has made it possible for me to stay fit and have a good balance in my daily life. But my feet are now starting to fail on me and I can’t bear having the right pair of shoes either.

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