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4583 Views 12 Replies Latest reply: Sep 22, 2009 8:52 PM by slow children at play
MagicCityRunner Rookie 2 posts since
May 28, 2009
Currently Being Moderated

May 28, 2009 11:22 PM

Beginner at 44 - Ran a 5K - What Kind of Runner Can I Be?


I hate to say it, but I'm technically a boomer (born in 1964, the last official year of the Baby Boom).



I'd never really run, except more than a couple of minutes at a  time on a treadmill. But I bought my own treadmill, walked a lot, ran my first mile on 2/1/09, worked up to 5K by 5/1/09 or so. So I managed to run a real 5K race on 5/16/09 in 34:12 - not too shabby, I hear. And it was not really challenging at that, so I'm going to sign up for two more upcoming 5Ks.



My  main question, that I couldn't really find addressed in browsing the forums' subject lines for over an hour, is: Given my age and late start, should I shoot for speed or distance? That is, should I shoot for, say, winning a 5K in my age group when I'm 50, or just finishing a marathon at that age. Or both?



It'd certainly be cool to win a short race, with a small field, someday; but on the other hand it'd also be cool to run an ultramarathon at 60 or something. I certainly like running so far, and I'm not really pushing myself hard yet. I just need to figure out what my long-haul orientation should be. Maybe it depends on what I'm "built for", but I don't know what that might be either.



Thanks for any input!






  • RICH48 Pro 106 posts since
    Oct 18, 2007

    I think everyone is different. People start at different ages and run for different reasons. I ran my first 5k at 59 (a bucket list thing I guess) prior to that I never cared to run. Starting late in life makes me wish I had started earlier - but I quess it just wasn't my time...I run because I can... I never really cared about speed - just finishing the race. Last month was my 1st 10k and October will be my 1st 1/2 marathon.  Will I go for a full marathon - ask me after October. ..So it comes down to why you run and what you want out of it.  Good Luck and just stay injury free - we don't recover like those 20 year olds.


  • joeyverville Amateur 61 posts since
    Aug 31, 2006


    Dear Magic City,



    You can be any kind of runner that you want or are determined to be.  I also started late (age 50) and have done several 5ks and this month, completed by first 10K.  My goal is to enter and complete a full marathon before exiting my 55th year.  I will do a half either this fall or next spring.  My times in the 5ks have not always improved, but have varied, depending on the committment i've put in.  I got injured early on by trtying to increase distance and pace much too quickly.  Now I am extremely careful and take good care of myself.  I do not want want to get sidelined anymore.  If you keep browsing coolrunning and other running sites and communities, you will learn plenty.  I think we all run for different reasons, but ultimately are just trying to better ourselves.  As for winning, it's easy to win an age groupI've won severalgiven my "advanced" age, often I'm the only female in my age group.  Hey, why not!  Keep up the good work and enjoy the ride.  You're off to a great start.  Stay injury free, tho.






  • RunnerSeeker Rookie 4 posts since
    Apr 16, 2008

    Hi MagicCityRunner, Congrats on the 5K. Nice job there. I think if you keep running and racing, you'll figure out what best turns your crank. After the 5Ks, maybe try a 10k to see what that does for you. If that works, consider a half marathon. And so on. I've found that each distance, from 5K to ultras, offers unique rewards and challenges. 5Ks are short, sweet, intense, don't require a lot of recovery. At the other extreme, ultras require much more training, time, commitment, planning, and recovery can take a long time ... but the sense of accomplishment on finishing one is something you'll remember forever. As the others have said, the most important thing is to minimize the risk of injury ... train smart, whatever your goal. The second most important thing is to keep your racing bibs ... keep each one ... from every race ... regardless of the distance or how well you did. Good luck!

  • jennpereira Rookie 1 posts since
    Jul 19, 2009


    I definitely think you can run a marathon, if that is what you want.  You could probably win in your age group, with training, at both types of races.  You are not hampered by your late start.  The body is amazing in its abilities.  I just posted 'Elite Marathoning has No Age Limits' on  based on an article from  People are winning medals at the Olympics, setting world records, etc. at ages higher than what was previously thought possible.  I know you may not be planning on the olympics, but it is inspiring to see that you can do what you want to do in running.  Good luck with your goals--keep us posted!









  • galerunz1 Amateur 12 posts since
    Mar 11, 2008


    I started running at age 44 while battling breast cancer. I had never run a step in my life and had no idea what I was doing. My first race darn near killed me as I just did it on a whim without ever running. I ran nearly the whole thing and collapsed on a curb afterwards thinking that I could never do this again. After I realized I was allowed to walk when I needed to without being disqualified it opened a whole new world to me. I am now 50 and have run back to back Saurday and Sunday races for the last 7 years. Have done hundreds of 5Ks. I've done lost of other distances as well as doing about 35 half marathons. I've improved but will never be a speed demon. I run pretty well for my age and do win awards (when the fast ones don't show up) LOL!! I have many trophies and medals that mean the world to me.



    This year I am feeling adventureous and have been doing more cycling. I did my first duathlon a couple of weeks ago. I didn't even know if I could do it!! I always go into these things blindly... LOL. Heck, I ran my first half without ever running further than 5 miles and not even running the full 5 miles. All I knew was that I could walk 13 miles and went merrily off!! Haha!!



    I am contemplating a 50K trail run this October. I want to check out how rugged the terrain is and basically run the flats and downhills and walk the uphills. May walk a LOT after 13 miles... LOL!!



    Just try running different distances and see what you like or what you excel at. Myself, I run to be around the multitude of friends I have made at the races. It's quite a social event for me. We share our adventures and stories. We sometimes travel to different races. Just remember.... "it's all about the funny running stories"!!! Soon you will have some to tell! 



    Good luck and most importantly...... HAVE FUN!!!!!!



  • FeelsSoGood2 Pro 107 posts since
    Feb 9, 2008


    Hello there. I am  a 49  female and I started dabbling in this running thing to feel bettter.  I am in the best physical shape I have ever been in.  I haven't actually done any race as of yet. I recreationally run about 25-30 miles a week. I love being out there.  I wanted to do the Philladelphia 8K in November-thought I'd shoot for a goal, however, I am not sure if it's just a pipe dream or I should go for it.



    I live in NJ and I am always looking for some smaller races to participate in, but there just isn't any that are local for me. I don't have any aquaintances or family members that appreciate running as I do, so sometimes it's difficult to be taken seriously.



    I would love to try this out. What do you think?:)



    ~continue to look ahead towards the goal and enjoy yourself getting closer~

  • galerunz1 Amateur 12 posts since
    Mar 11, 2008





    Absolutely go for it!!!! When I first started running 7 years ago, races were much smaller. There just weren't a lot of runners and hardly any walkers. Funny thing is that because the races were so small, while I was finishing dead last (a lot), I was winning trophies, I met amazing people and all of that kept me motivated through the "slow" period,



    Now there are many, many runners and a lot of walkers. It's REALLY hard to finish last now. You will experience things you will never forget at your first race. You will feel like an athlete. You will be hooked!!   



  • FeelsSoGood2 Pro 107 posts since
    Feb 9, 2008


    Thanks!  I think I will. I will sign up. I did find soem 5K's in the area before that race, so maybe what I'll do is fit some of those in before this one.  I came to a wall with my running a few weeks ago, partially due to some personal barriers....I am trying to get back on track using intervals. I hope it helps.



    Does anyone walk at all during these things or is it constant runing. I am afraid I will look like a squash if I am not running full throttle the whole



    ~continue to look ahead towards the goal and enjoy yourself getting closer~

  • joeyverville Amateur 61 posts since
    Aug 31, 2006


    not sure what a "squash" looks like except the vegetable, which i love...:8} don't worry about walkingmake it to the end however you can and be proud of your accomplishment.  not everyone does what you doyou're out there doing something good for yourself, regardless of what it looks like to others.  most people don't judge anyway.  running and racing are personal, at least to me.  I compete with my last time or my best time or whatever i'm dealing with at the time and try to take it all in stride (pun intended).  Enjoy and post how you did.  we want to hear...



  • FeelsSoGood2 Pro 107 posts since
    Feb 9, 2008

    Onto my first 5k in a couple of days.  I cannot wait to see how it truns out for me. I've been training almost everyday for the last 6 weeks with a few break days here and there. Infact, I am so anxious I can't sleep which is an odity for me! lol

    ~continue to look ahead towards the goal and enjoy yourself getting closer~

  • slow children at play Amateur 7 posts since
    Oct 19, 2007

    Dear Beginner 44;


    There are some amazing stories in here.  It is very impressive to hear how running has changed people's lives.   It is never too late to start doing what feels good and is good for you!


    I have been a recreational runner since my late 30's but, had never really run more than 10 miles.    At 41 years old, the Baltimore marathon went past my house. It was inspiring to see all those people who had committed to run it slogging along at about mile 18.  As I stood there with my cow bell, I wondered if I could complete one.  Competing was not a consideration.  The next day, I looked at the list of competitors in the newspaper.  The oldest finisher was a 72 year old woman.  I do not know who she was but if I could find out, I would send her a letter of thanks.  It was her feat that motivated me there and then.  I decided to run.   I ran my first marathon the next year at age 42.  I have since completed 19 over the past 8 years.  I once ran 6 in one year to get over some personal struggles.  I have qualified for Boston more than 7 times, have run it 3 and am qualified again for next year.  I have run several of the big city races, a nearly all up hill marathon in the Alps, on the coast trail of Northern California, in the mountains of North Carolina and through beautiful scenery throughout the US.   These are fun experiences to have had, the personal tests and accomplishments satisfying.  Running keeps me balanced emotionally and helps me feel good about myself.   Running has introduced me to many wonderful, amazing, inspirational and positive people with whom I hope to maintain life-long friendships.   


    This fall I will attempt my first 50-miler a month after my 50th birthday.

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