I was a pretty fast runner in high school. I was not, however, able to join the track team, because I did not have transportation to and from events. In 2012 I found out that the Subway Commonwealth Games had sports competitions for those over age 50.
When I attended and saw men and women up to age 72 participating, I decided I would give it a try. I entered and won the gold medal for age group 50-59. In 2013 I won a silver medal in the same category. Here are the steps that helped me prepare.
1. Access your current situation.
No matter how in shape or how great an athlete you were in high school or college, you must face the reality of now. In high school I weighed barely 100 pounds. I am now 150 pounds and close to 36 years older. Even so, I had been walking 4-5 miles a day for about 7 years.
I knew people my age who could barely walk across their front yard. I decided that all that walking had to have some benefit. I did not have any health issues except high cholesterol, therefore I felt strongly that I would not be risking my health.
2. Crawl before you walk attitude
My grandmother used to always say you must crawl before you can walk. I did not believe it wise to try to run a marathon, or a relay so I looked for the shortest race. This was the 100 meter dash.
About 90 days before the race, I began picking up my pace when I walked. As time went on I would jog about a half block, (100 steps) each time I walked and another half block on the walk back home. Three weeks before the race I began timing myself once a day in a practice of the 100 meter.
4. Total body fitness
My age, weight and how many decades since I ran was always on my mind. I made sure to drink lots of water, eat more vegetables and fruits, and cut back on red meat and junk food. I made sure to do bending and stretching exercises daily.
I would stand on my tip toes and stretch my hands up as far as possible. I would bend over as far as possible trying to touch my toes. I also did running in place, working up to 200 steps at one time.
During the 2013 race I did not stretch and bend as I should have. About a week before the race when I practiced running the 100 meter, both legs cramped at mid thigh. As long as I jogged I was fine but when I picked up the pace, the cramps returned. I competed anyway, and when the cramps began I had to slow down. This is why I won the silver instead of the gold.
In order to relax my mind and body I soaked in the tub with Epsom salts and lavender bubble bath.
As we age or bodies are not as firm. I find that proper fitting undergarments hep me feel pounds lighter and lighter on my feet. For women, I find that a Genie bra works just as well as a sports bra, and can be worn all the time. Instead of a panty girdle, I cut the legs off a pair of support panty hose near the upper thighs. This gave support without cutting off my breath.
Each of these things helped give me confidence, motivation and the desire to compete and win. Had I followed the entire routine in 2013, I may have taken home the gold. If you are under the care of a physician, please get a check up to make sure you are in shape to run. it’s never too late to compete in sports events, and it is never too early to begin training.