I have to thank my former trainer, Adriane, for giving me the confidence to begin running for the first time at 50 years old. We started by running in a little circle in Palisades Park, then the circles got bigger, and then they turned into one mile and before I knew it, I was running three to five mile sessions with him. It was so fun!
I never thought I could do it. I triumphantly started running 5K runs on a regular basis in between training sessions.
When he thought I was ready, he coaxed me into training for the Los Angeles Marathon.
“You can do it. If anyone has the drive and ambition you do,” he declared.
So at 50 years old, I started training for the marathon. I joined a training group in Marina del Rey, and off I went. I was doing great until I went hiking with a friend around Christmas. I fell down a decline of loose rocks and injured my back.
Damn! It turned out that I had a substantial herniated disk. My marathon training and dreams of running in the event came to a screeching halt. I endured a couple of years of going to chiropractors, surgeons, and physical therapists with no real results.
The results finally came when I started training with weights. After about three months, my back stopped hurting. Now, it’s been a year and my back, as well as the rest of my body, is stronger than it’s ever been, thanks to the steadfast method of Fabian Lewkowicz (of Fit by Fabian).
I won’t be running this year, but perhaps I will begin to train for next year’s marathon. I recently spoke with Dr. Sharon Orrange, an internal medicine specialist affiliated with Keck Medicine of USC, about running and training in the post-50 years. A former marathon runner, she has worked the finish line of the LA Marathon several times. She advised me on the most common overuse injuries on women over 50, and what you can do about them:
Gluteus Medius Weakness: This muscle moves the hip away from the midline of your body and assists with pelvic stability during running. Weakness of this muscle causes pain with hip abduction and rotation. Treatment is physical therapy and correction of the way you run. Anti-inflammatories and massage will help as well.
Dr. Orrange calls this the Lady Gaga injury as this is what she had surgery for (who could forget the gold wheelchair!). Physical therapy has mixed results; arthroscopic surgery works, but has a long downtime.
Overuse can lead to pain in the front of the knee that gets worse with more running. Taping and soft knee braces will help, but make sure you do this under the guidance of a medical professional. Icing after exercise and the right shoes are also key.
Foot & Ankle Injuries
Plantar fasciitis (PF) is the common cause of rear foot pain. Heavier, older runners are more at risk for PF. Stretches, icing, anti-inflammatories and physical therapy will get rid of this problem.
Achilles Tendonitis is seen more often in over-50 runners. The Achilles tendon gets stiffer as we get older. It gets worse with activity, better with rest.
Metatasalgia is pain in the ball of the foot. A metatarsal pad or custom orthotics may help.
Other Pain-In-The-Butt Pain
Toenail Injuries: Repetitive trauma to the nail or nail bed will give you a jogger’s toenail. This can be due to poorly fitting shoes, so make sure you have plenty of toe space in your shoes.
Chafing: Unlike men, women don’t have to worry about nipple chafing (eew), but women over 50 tend to have chafing between their thighs and under their arms. “Glide” is your best friend to prevent this!
Even though I won’t be running, you’ll still see me at the finish line this year, cheering my friends on, and helping them to reapply their Glide! Dr. Orrange informs me it wears off at mile 14...
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