By Dr. Cliff McCain |
At the age of 45 I became a runner and now run three to four times a week at distances of 3 to 6 miles. As a cancer survivor, I am motivated to stay as healthy as I can and keep my quality of life high. While I am no expert on running, I have developed my own system through the years and I hope some of these concepts will help you.
GET THE GEAR
Because my body does not heal as quickly as it once did, my equipment is very important. Find the shoes or gear that makes your body feel the best. If your body responds positively to an $80 shoe then great, but spend the extra bucks to get what you need. Your legs, feet or back will thank you. Also, consider wearing compression socks. I feel like I have more support and the extra sweat is worth it for me.
VARY YOUR ROUTES
Try to find different places to run to reduce boredom. One of my favorite pastimes has been to run in famous locations while on vacation. Running at places such as the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland are some of my favorite memories. But you can stave off boredom at home. I have two 3-mile routes and two 5-mile routes and never run the same route twice in one week. It keeps everything fresh for me.
PUSH HARD BUT DON’T MAKE IT MISERY
As I was trying to get shape years ago, I became fanatical, running six or seven days a week. But I realized I was starting to dread my runs. I cut back to three or four days a week and tried to keep my legs fresh. If I had not changed, I almost certainly would not still be running. Now, my body feels better and I look forward to getting up each morning and going on my chosen route.
RISE AND SHINE
Did I say morning? Yes, I am one of those morning people. I simply will not do it when I get home. Besides being much cooler at certain times of the year, it sets me up mentally for the whole day. I don’t have think about running when I get home. I can relax and spend time with family. Mornings are my time. If it’s not yours, just find the time that makes you happy.
WALK IT OUT
I try to get three or four 5-10-minute walks in during the day. Along with just the aspect of exercise, it keeps my muscles loose. The walks I take on days I ran five miles are crucial. By mid-morning, my legs are stiff from sitting, but by the afternoon I feel great because I have forced myself to stay active during the day.
No fitness plan is perfect for every person. But this plan has worked for me in middle-age and can serve as a starting point for people who want to begin a fitness journey. It is never too late!
Dr. Cliff McCain works as a learning specialist in the athletic department at the University of Mississippi. He spent two decades working as a coach and administrator at the secondary education level. McCain holds a doctor of education degree in higher education and master’s degrees in history and educational administration.