Am I Too Old to Start Running?

Nope. You are not too old to start running. If you’re 40, 50, 60 or 70+ you can learn to run, and enjoy it. The trick is to start where you are, and to have realistic expectations.

Before you do anything, get approval from your doctor. Seriously — if you’ve been sitting at a desk for years, get a check up to make sure you’re okay to start an exercise plan.

Once your doc says you’re good to go, here’s what you need to know:

5 Essential Tips for Older Rookie Runners

  1. Don’t Wear Cotton When You Workout.

    Put that old concert t-shirt back in the drawer. Cotton shirts and shorts won’t do you any favors when you workout. In fact, sweat-soaked cotton will overheat you in summer, and chill you in winter.

    Invest in a few pieces of activewear. It’s made of synthetic fabric that wicks away sweat to keep you comfortable and prevent painful chafing.

Activewear is easy to find, and doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s on the clearance rack at every sports and department store. Watch for tent sales and end of season deals for the best price.

Don’t overlook your socks. Cotton socks retain moisture and make you prone to blisters. Buy a couple of pairs of runner specific socks to keep your feet happy

  1. Get the Right Shoes.

    It’s tempting to grab a pair of old shoes from the back of your closet and think you’re ready to run. That could set you up to fail. Your feet are going to work hard, and need proper fit and support.

    You can walk in running shoes, but you can’t run in walking shoes. Believe me, I tried. It’s like wearing bricks on your feet. Imagine how sore you would be if you ran with bricks on your feet. Don’t do it.

Go to a running store and get fitted for the correct shoes. Once you know what you need — bigger toe box, extra cushion, proper width — you can find a deal. Running shoes are always on sale somewhere.

  1. Start Where You Are.

    The very best way to become a runner, at any age, is to make a plan of slow and steady increases to your activity level. Walk before you run. You’ve heard this before because it’s true.

    When you’ve never run a mile before, does it make sense to start by running three? No. No it does not. But that’s okay — you’ll find satisfaction as you tick off each new incremental achievement.

If you overshoot at the start, and you may get hurt or discouraged, and forget the whole thing.

However, if you start by walking around the block, then around the neighborhood, then around town; and follow that up, after the appropriate amount of time, by running or walking those same distances, you’re going to have some real physical, mental and emotional joy to celebrate. Go you!

  1. Take Rest Days Between Workouts.

    Rest days are as important as workout days. I’ll say it again because I can’t emphasize this enough. Rest days are as important as workout days.

    Everywhere you look you’ll see training plans designed for younger runners that suggest one rest day per week. But, beginners and older rookie runners shouldn’t run every day. Instead, you should alternate run and rest days.

I know you’re excited, and want to keep running. (It’s fun!) But rest days are essential. Your body gains strength, muscle and fitness on rest days.

Respect your rest the same way you respect the heat of summer and the cold of winter. If you run farther or harder than you usually do, add extra recovery time.

There is nothing sadder than over-training and then getting injured or sick. You can avoid that trap by respecting rest days.

5. Pick a Goal. Make a Plan. Do the Work. Reach Goal.

Start by setting attainable goals, and figure out what you need to do to reach them.

Adapt your workout plan to fit your schedule so you set yourself up for success. For example, there are many 5K training programs available online to prepare you to walk or run a 5K in 8 to 12 weeks. That’s an excellent, attainable goal.

Don’t just say, “I want to run a 5K.” Sign up for a specific race (Hint: Best Damn Race 5K) and give yourself a real deadline. You’ll be more motivated with a solid deadline and goal.

Now that you have your goal and plan, get out there and do the work. Walk and run regularly, and soon you’ll be a healthier, happier version of you. You’ve got this!

Bonus Tip:

The Best Damn Races are perfect for first-time older runners. When you train for and run a 2018 Best Damn Race, you’ll get all this:

  1. A race shirt that wicks away sweat and makes you look fast!
  2. A concrete goal for your training: Races are in Jan., Feb. and March. Choose from Jacksonville, Safety Harbor (Tampa), Orlando and New Orleans locations.
  3. The chance to run with a group of motivated people.
  4. $5 OFF registration when you use THISOLDRUNNER code at registration.
  5. A beautiful finisher medal to commemorate your race.
  6. Bragging rights and a wonderful feeling of pride and satisfaction.

Good luck. See you at the finish line!

This post is by Karen, one of our Best Damn Race Ambassadors. She learned to run a half marathon as an adult with absolutely NO prior experience. She writes about running and races at