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Middle-aged women and epiphanies about running

Saturday, May 18, 2013

My husband is still somewhat in shock, I think. He just came home from his conference and found out that I signed up for a second 5k race. He is a lifelong athlete but has never seen me do much exercise that wasn't USEFUL, like digging and weeding by hand. Me, running just to run? He can't wrap his mind around it, I think.

I told him that I read in a New York Times article that older women actually ran faster times than younger women, which is the opposite of what happens with men. Middle aged women gave a few reasons, one of which is EXACTLY the reason I am on fire myself: they suddenly find out they are capable of doing something they never thought they could.

When I went to school, even the healthy girls had to be on girl's teams, playing girl's sports - like field hockey in those stupid plaid skirts. There were huge differences in the amount of time and effort put into coaching and promoting the different sex teams, of course.

And if you were unhealthy like me, you didn't even go to a real gym class. MY gym class was held inside a gym, but we stuffed envelopes for the school or were just told to do whatever we felt like because it was a free hour. I was told to puff on my inhalant, watch my heart... oh no, don't get too hot!

Boys, on the other hand, are expected to be athletic. If their parents carefully raise their children, so both sexes have access to both "genders" of toys, their daycare teachers and friends will undo this soon enough. My son was sure he would be an athlete before he was three years old. He is still physically active and has never been heavy. Why should he ever have any kind of epiphany that he could run? No one ever insinuated he couldn't. My daughter, on the other hand, was sure she was a brainiac bookworm by the age of three (yes, she was reading). She is still heavy today, 18 years later.

So here I am, 47 years old, trying new things because I am chubby and curious and because I am tired of thinking I can't do this and that. When I finally found something I could do, it really was an epiphany. I can do this. And I am going to be good, whatever that "good" happens to be for someone with my health. I fully intend to test myself a bit at a time, so I stretch my boundaries. Considering I ran zero minute miles before (because I never started!), every race I complete will be a good race. But I want to know what I can do.

The article I referenced:

And this blog is just a lot of fun:
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  • PASCAL921
    I know just how you feel. emoticon
    2101 days ago
    Your blog ran a bell in my head.

    Back in the days, to get in the police academy, I had to be able to run a certain distance in a specified time and I was totally incapable of running. After a block, I would swear I was going to die, so I just gave up.

    Six years ago, my daughter then 15, wanted to do the couch to 5k programm and asked me to run with her. I was reluctant, remembering my running past...

    She never finished the programm and I never stopped running since. I'm slow though, but I run. I started with 5ks, saying they are long enough for me and I'm now running 10ks and the half marathon is nagging me now...

    All this to say that I too, had an epiphany about how I now can run and I'm not stopping ever.

    Thanks for the blog!
    2102 days ago
  • KONRAD695
    Congrats on the new running career!! I'll try and keep up if I see you. emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2102 days ago
    I'm 58, and didn't start attempting to run until age 55. I'm still not fast and not always consistent with it but still like to do some 5k's for fun. My real passion is hiking. I'd always loved the forest around where we live, but was not in shape for hiking. Now I'm out every chance I get, climbing up and down hills and feeling the serenity out there. I was a fat kid in school. I did have real gym class, although no sports and there wasn't even much if anything offered at the time if I had wanted it. I do remember wanting to take auto mechanics in high school and being told that girls couldn't because there wasn't a lock on the bathroom door in that building! That would have been an easy fix but that was the early 70's when I was in high school. But getting back to gym class, I was the slowest, worst at everything I hated it. For anything we did in teams in gym class I was the team someone got stuck with after everyone else was chosen. But anyway, we are finding that there are so many things we can do if we just start believing and trying them! You rock!
    2102 days ago
    At 63, I was in school long before Title IX. There were no, zip, nada sports open to girls. Period. We were cheerleaders, in the Pep Squad or in the Band.

    On the plus side, when I did start running at 59, it was on legs absolutely undamaged by foolishness in my youth.
    2102 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/20/2013 11:45:09 AM
    Brooklyn_Born pointed me to your blog. Good for you!
    2102 days ago
    Good for you! Keep it up!
    2102 days ago
    emoticon I am right there with you! I started running "seriously" this year at the age of 45. I've run a 5K in the past, but I can't wait to run one now that I'm actually "in shape."

    I agree wholeheartedly with your blog! I just wish my husband would do any kind of exercise. Luckily all my kids are active!
    2102 days ago
    Absolutely! I "discovered" I could run in my late 30's, but then regained and have had to "rediscover" my inner athlete as I was moving through my 50's. Now at 60... I'm establishing PR's for the races I do more than once, time after time...

    I always wanted to be a little old lady, because as I child I perceived them as powerful. Now I know why! We ALLOW ourselves to have that power at some point!

    Spark on! emoticon
    2102 days ago
  • JLITT62
    I see we have a lot in common!

    Well, I'm not a fast runner. Or a natural runner. I like to say I'm slow but I finish!

    I didn't run my first race til I was 48, btw.
    2102 days ago
    Good for you signing up for another 5K.
    Good blog!
    I am going to check out the links that you posted.
    Have a fantastic day!
    2102 days ago
  • DARLY55
    Awesome blog. Inspiring!
    2103 days ago
    Glad to see you are enjoying your new sport. Human beings were built to run, so everyone in normal health can do this. That so few choose to take advantage of and enjoy this natural ability is sad. Good luck to you!
    2103 days ago
    Way to go! Let us know how the run goes!
    2104 days ago
    I bet your husband, in his surprise is very proud of you! You are truly an inspiration and that really is the greatest beauty of Sparkville! There are so many people doing so many things that they or anyone else may have felt impossible before. Although running is not my thing, it's beautiful to see that you've got the bug now! Way to go, Girl! emoticon

    By the way -- you made a very good point about societal/educational perspectives on women athletes. There were some women who were encouraged when I was growing up, but ONLY those who showed a great aptitude for it. Anyone else was pretty much a write-off. And the viewpoint for the boys/men was very different.

    So hold your head high Girl -- as you run your races and cross the finish line! emoticon
    2104 days ago
  • OWL_20
    I'm a few years older than you but was lucky enough to have been involved in sports when I was a kid, mostly because I idolized Olympians like Frank Shorter and Pre, Billy Miller and had parents who supported practice times, etc. But I hear what you're saying, I take a look around SP and marvel at the women who are out there running for the very first time and loving it. It's an awesome thing! Maybe what is awesome-r to me is the fact that these folks are believing in their potential and making it happen despite whatever gets in their way (weight, life, stress, etc)--like you! It motivates me to get out there more to see what I can do.
    2104 days ago
    Right on, sister! My daughters who are a few years younger than you, are much faster now than they were 20 years ago. Both have Boston qualifying times. DD#2 who was told in HS to stick to swimming because of knee pain when running distance, now has a 3:08 marathon after 2 kids. The problem back in HS? The wrong shoes for her high arches. Once she got fitted properly, no more pain.

    Good luck to you and keep on runnin'
    2104 days ago
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