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Running can be the biggest dichotomy ever.
On the plus side, running makes you feel indestructible and strong. It leaves you a more mellow, relaxed version of yourself. Running gives naturally nosy RVers (like me) an excuse to get out and explore our new surroundings wherever we park. There’s this intoxicating feeling of actually doing something besides slacking in the lawn chair at the RV park all day that makes running pretty addictive.
But on the flip side, running can be SO hard and grueling. While you’re actually doing it, it can be a total mindgame. “I can’t do this! Yes, I can. But I’m tired. Just a little more…” Okay, let’s just come out and say it. Sometimes, running just sucks.
But here’s the thing. Running is one of the best calorie-torching, disease-fighting workouts around. It’s a low-maintenance form of exercise, doesn’t cost a thing, and adds years to your life. And, despite any misinformed beliefs you might have, it’s never too late to take up running.
If you’ve ever considered taking up running, I encourage you to give it a try (with doctor’s clearance, of course). We get one shot at “life,” and I look at running as one of those big life tests we can take. It’s a chance for us to test our resolve, to unleash our potential, and to see how far we can push ourselves. I know, it seems lofty for the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other. But, until you’re out there pounding the pavement, you’ll never know how profound the experience of running can actually be, both mentally and physically. That’s why I hope you’ll consider it. Sure, your know-it-all athletic kids and/or grandkids might chuckle, and your spouse might think you’ve gone crazy. That’s the hazard of making such a huge life change out of the blue and later in life. But once you start putting on the miles, just wait. Their giggling turns to pride, inspiration, and a little awe. For them AND for you. It’ll happen. TRUST me.
Beginner’s Guide to Unleashing Your Inner Runner
Running, when you’re not conditioned for it, can be hazardous. It’s something you need to ease into slowly. So before you go, make a smart plan for yourself using my tips below. And again, ALWAYS check with your doctor before beginning any new physical activity.
#1. You need a GOOD pair of running shoes. Don’t skimp here. This is your one big investment with running, and you need something comfortable and supportive. It’s sort of like shopping for an RV. Do your research, shop around, talk to some experts, and then choose the right fit for you. My best advice is to walk into your local running store, and tell the helpful sales associate you’d like to see their 3 most cushioned and supportive running shoes they carry. Your goal in picking a shoe is injury prevention. Don’t let them talk you into a stealth, super-light shoe because it will make you faster. You want your shoes like tanks, not motorcycles.
#2. Always warm-up. Especially as older adults, our bodies need extra time getting prepped for a workout. A warm-up can be as simple as a 5 minute walk or it can be a series of gentle exercises. Here’s hubby James demonstrating his 5 minute pre-run warm-up routine. He religiously (OCD-ously, more like) does this exact same warm-up every September through November as he prepares for his one running event of the year…a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot 5k.
#3. Start with the 10×10 Plan. If you haven’t run since your mortifying PE fitness tests days, this one’s important. You’ll only be jogging 10 steps, once every minute, for 10 minutes. So your very first workout will be 10 minutes long (after the warm-up). At the start of every minute, on the minute, slowly jog 10 steps. That’s it! You’ll be walking the rest of the time. (By 10 steps I mean 10 on your right foot and 10 on your left.) Yes, you’ll probably feel motivated to do more, since it’s your jogging honeymoon and you’ll have that new-runner-excitement, but force yourself to stop jogging and walk. You’ll repeat this workout 3 times in your first week. Think of it sort of like doing a “patch” test. Your first week is to test how your body responds. If you have any pains or problems, stop and check with your doctor. If, however, everything went well that first week, then ONWARD!
#4. Gradually build how much running you do. 10 minutes per session is plenty for your first month, but as you progress each week, slowly increase the number of steps you jog. Try to set a goal that by the end of your 2nd month, you’ll be able to jog an entire minute without stopping. And see if you can repeat that twice in the same 10 minute session…for two 1 minute jogging intervals within your workout.
#5. Get in the habit of 3 jogs per week. The key to being successful with running is making it a habit, and being consistent. If you set a goal from the beginning that you’ll NO EXCUSES get out 3 times each week for 10 minutes, you’re more likely to stick with it, and make it a regular part of your life. Plus, if you yo-yo with your running, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. An example: if you take off 3 weeks from your training plan, and then jump back in and try to pick up where you left off, you’ll be more susceptible to injuries. Your body will adapt to the demands of running, but only if you are consistent.
#6. Jog slowly. You should be able to carry out a conversation while jogging, even though it might be a little difficult. If you are too winded to talk, immediately stop and walk. You’re new to this stuff, and your body is still trying to figure it all out. You need a good 6 months of consistent slow jogging before you start worrying about increasing the intensity. Be patient, and give your body the time it needs for adaptations to occur.
Eventually, as you endure and overcome those hard parts about running…the mindgame, the days it sucks and feels so hard, the sore muscles, etc., you’ll start discovering many things about yourself. With every tiny triumph, running will redefine your belief in yourself. You’ll gain a new level of self-respect, and the strength to never give up on yourself. You’ll get out and experience your surroundings through a different lens; as an observer on the periphery of the world around you. This leads to an incredible sense of freedom and achievement.
And when your run is over for the day, and you’ve made it back to the RV, you’ll unlace your running shoes…for me, that’s one of the best times of the day. THAT’S what keeps me running. That moment. “Bring it on, world. I’m unstoppable.”
I pretty much just found this site so I know I’m leaving comments on older posts, but I can’t help it. I’m loving this site so much :}
I’m an early-40s lifetime athlete (soccer, so knees are iffy!) and a couple years ago just jogging 3 miles around the ‘hood became exhausting and painful–and it wasn’t my shoes. My body was just aching and tired during runs. It wasn’t my cardio, it was like my musculo-skeletal system was refusing to sustain running anymore. I was unwilling to give it up (barely 40, c’mon!) so looked into ways to change my gait. And voila!
I now am running those same 3 mile distances (I’m a sprinter/hurdler, all fast-twitch) using a midfoot strike and a faster cadence (174 strides per min) and these are GAME CHANGERS. I can run strong, my knees feel great, and running is fun again! I have a smartwatch with a metronome app (called D Metronome for you Android-y people, not sure if they have an Apple app, also) that I set to buzz me every other step–so every right step, for example.
Running while on a RV trip is so envigorating and, as you mentioned, lets you check the scene. Now I’m a happy runner again!
Thanks so much for sharing this, Shannon, and welcome to the site! Glad to hear your real life account of how shortening your stride and working on a more efficient strike pattern has made all the difference. AWESOME! Glad you didn’t give up once your knees starting rebelling, too many do. May you have MANY MANY more decades of pain-free running ahead! Happy trails!
Great post! I started running at 48 and now do several 5K runs a year. I followed an app called couch to 5K. It worked great and I had the voice on my phone telling me to start running or walking….I had to repeat the weeks several times before moving on, but I really enjoyed it. I just plod along, tried intervals but my heart rate gets too high. I never could run when I was younger but going slow like you stated really works.
What a fantastic tip, Sandy! I’m aware of the program, have actually prescribed it to clients in past years, but didn’t know there was an app nowadays!
WOW!!!! I was so hoping you guys would go!!! Just told Joe and he is so pumped!! It IS a great show! Hope everything falls into place so you guys can make it. Keep us posted please.
Will do, Maggie! You’ve got me all excited about it. 🙂
Perhaps we could lead a workshop on healthy RVing…I’ll do some investigating!!!
That sounds AWESOME!!!! If there is anything weI can do to make that happen, please let me know.
Hi Stef and James, Loved the video with James doing the whole warm up! Unfortunately, I can ‘t run due to knee injury.. I have a 8″ plate with screws from my knee to the middle of my leg. (Surgeon told me I’d never walk again in 2009. Proved him wrong. A year of hard work, therapy and prayer got me out of the wheelchair.) I wear running shoes most of the time and I can walk just fine. Do you have any suggestions that you think might help me on the road or even incorporate at home?
By the way, just got the Good Sam Travel Guide for 2015 with our new Winnebago. Great article from you both on pages 69 and 70!!!
Happy and safe travels,
Maggie, I am SO GLAD you proved your surgeon wrong. That’s just inspiring to hear, and shows that anything is possible. As for suggestions for you…without being able to assess your present levels, here’s my shot in the dark. What if you applied the 10×10 rule…but rather than running for those 10 steps, you instead power-walked. Push yourself as hard as you can safely go for 10 steps each minute, and then slowly build up your power-walking from there? You probably already know this, but just keeping moving is going to be the key to maintaining your health. Sit less, move more, eat right. It’s as simple as that, yet difficult to put in practice for most of us. Just remember, exercise has got to be a non-negotiable part of our lives if we want to stay healthy and age well. And I’m tickled you found our article in the Good Sam Travel Guide 2015! Here’s a secret: We actually wrote ANOTHER article that will go in the 2016 Guide, too. We’re pretty excited! Wishing you health and happiness….Stef
Thank you so much Stef for your advise. I will definitely put it into practice. You guys are such an inspiring couple and I pray you will have continued success in everything you do. Joe and I look forward to your videos and hope to meet you guys on the road one day. Are you going to the Florida RV Supershow in Tampa, Florida from January 13 through the 17th? That would be AWESOME!!! You guys should come! It’s warmer in Florida during that time of year. No snow, no shoveling, no slipping and sliding. You can even bicycle all over the place. Just trying to convince you. 🙂
I will look into the 2016 for the article.
Thank you again,
Maggie, thanks so much for your kind words! It means so much, truly. We actually just might be coming to the Tampa show! We’ve never been before…it’s SO far away from our home base in Utah, but we’ve always wanted to attend, and we’re hoping to make it work this coming January. If so, I’ll definitely be posting about it, and I hope we can meet in person!
Great tips James!
I have been gradually building up myself, and can vouch for the health benefits (no more yearly flues for the last five years).
I’ll keep checking your site to see if you might be adding any tips on how to go the next step. I wonder what works better, do intervals or just a gradual increase in pace over time? Or mix short and longer distances, I do an 5K once a week and am trying to improve my time. I think I’m asking to much aren’t I.
thanks for sharing,
Emile…next steps, great question! That really depends on the individual and their goals, though. Sounds like you’ve been running for years now and have a goal to increase your 5k time. For you, I’d say next steps would actually be some speedy intervals mixed in! Do some 30 second and 1 minute intervals running at a pace hard enough where you can last the interval, but just barely. And then gradually build your interval times as your body adapts. Running’s such an amazing & addictive challenge, isn’t it?!?
thank you so much for the interval tip, I will most certainly try it out.
I always feel refreshed after a run, great motivator for me.
Looks like you’re the fast one in the family, intervals for James too?
This article is perfect timing for me. I’m a bit of an overweight cyclist who’s just had a minor health scare and needs to start watching what I eat and begin an exercise regimen. I want to lose twenty pounds before I crawl back on the bike, and this looks like the best way to start running once again. Thanks for the post.
So glad it helped, David. Go slow, be consistent, and stay strong!