Ask Stew: Still Running, Almost 60, What is Next?

A service member finishes the run portion of his Air Force physical fitness test Nov. 12 at Luke Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Staci Miller)
A service member finishes the run portion of his Air Force physical fitness test Nov. 12 at Luke Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Staci Miller)

Working out into your 50s and 60s (and beyond) is a goal we all should strive for. That means taking care of yourself in your 30s and 40s. However, if things have slipped for you, give yourself a few years to slowly increase your activity level, eat better, lose weight, and build muscle, and you can create a much better you that can continue to evolve and enjoy life. Treat Yourself Like a Beginner and get moving! Here is an email from a Navy veteran seeking information on the next chapter in his fitness life:

Greetings Stew, first I'm enjoying your Podcasts, it provides a great wealth of information no matter what your goals or fitness level. Bottom line great books, and great information on line. Thanks for all of your hard work and translating that into easy to use information. I'm a Navy Vet (P-3s), 58 years old and in the last couple of years I've used your material and Hal Higdon's guides to train and run my first half marathon, some 5Kms, 5 milers, 15K's and a 10 mile run. I have been slowly getting better just sliding in under a 10.5 minute mile. With the 20+ miles a week running, more when I'm ramping up for a longer run I am starting to have hip soreness, the hamstrings get sore and tight but the foam roller is magical there — thanks for that recommendation.

My question: Is it time to quit running and do more yoga and swimming? My swimming is sub-par, I was just able to make the requirements in boot camp. So that will be a good challenge to work on. I'm 220lbs. and 5’ 10". I'm working on cutting out sugar and dropping more weight. I was running as a goal to keep me on track and exercising; it's not something I love. I'm looking at all-around fitness, and have been really looking at your periodization method of training to keep me going for the rest of my life. Is it time for that move to yoga and swimming and or what level of personal training would you recommend? Thank you for your time, Charles

Charles — thanks for the email. You have a decade on me — but I guess it depends on how you are feeling with running these runs at 220 pounds? My first reaction to your email is that you should try losing weight. My goal this year is to get back under 200lbs and keep running into my 50s as well. The one good thing about the periodization plan is that I do not run year-round, and can rest my joints during winter lift and non-impact cardio and swim cycles. This keeps me going for sure, compared to running hard year-round.

Personally speaking, I’m not sure when swimming/rowing/yoga will replace running and lifting/high-rep PT, but I figure my knees and back will tell me. Hopefully, I will make that transition before I am in much pain. BUT running lighter — even 10-15lbs — is very helpful to the joints and may buy you more time before you need to transition to more non-impact options.

My advice: Keep losing weight, listen to your knees when running, have running cycles and non-impact cardio cycles spread through the year, and always stretch. Also consider a recovery day in the middle of the week of your running cycles where you do a few sets of non-impact cardio and foam rolling/stretching for 30-45 minutes. Get in the pool and do some treading and dynamic stretches after you run. (Mobility day off)

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