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Possible Marathon at 60 - Should I Do It?

by Kerry
(Tennant Creek, NT, Australia)

I'm 60 next year and have not done any running for a few years but have completed two half marathons, one in the 80s and one about 8-10 years ago.

I only walk 3-5 kms a day with my dogs and swim 1 km 5 times a week and practice yoga daily for 10-15 minutes. I work full-time as a teacher in a remote indigenous community and will be retiring to owner build a house in 2013.

I still have a wish to complete a marathon and would like your advice on whether I can do it.

I am 167cm tall and weigh 67 kg.

I am fit and healthy with no health issues except asthma for which I use a preventative steroid inhaler daily. If running a marathon is possible what training would you advise and over what period prior to a race?

I do not want to suffer unduly and am well disciplined but do not want to embark on something that may have negative effects on my current good health. What would you advise?

Regards,
Kerry

running tips
Answer by Dominique:
Hi Kerry,
Thanks for your question about possibly running a marathon.

Running a marathon is possible for any healthy individual. I know people older than 60 who have done marathons.

At the same time, running a marathon is inherently unhealthy. There is something unnatural about running a distance that long, reason why many people struggle towards the end; our bodies are not really conditioned for that kind of distance.

The hardest part about running a marathon is getting to the starting line. The training is time consuming and quite a few people get injured along the way.

In fact that's exactly what a 52-year-old colleague told me when we were speaking about his recent marathon experience. He told me two things: training was really tough and he wish he had done it when he was a bit younger.

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So, it is not a risk-free activity. I guess with all the challenges we set ourselves, there is always the chance that we don't make it or get disappointed. But isn't that part of the fun of it as well?

What I would probably advise you to do is to first train up for a half marathon. 8-10 years have passed. See how easy/hard it is to get yourself trained up for that. Half marathon training is considerably lower risk.

Once you have got your half marathon completed you can better evaluate whether you want to go through the rigour of full marathon training.

How well is your body dealing with 90 - 120 minute long runs? How much harder will it be if you have to extend that to 150 - 180 minute runs? Etc.

You'll know much more, once you have done your half marathon.

Of course, when embarking on a strenuous exercise program, make sure to check with your doctor.

If you decide to start doing a marathon, there are quite a few marathon running books available that can help you further. I have got a "Marathon Training Secrets" guide available that is, if I say so myself, quite useful.

Hope this helps.
Kind regards,
Dominique

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