I have become addicted to running, since I retired in June. No one is more surprised than I, that I can run (actually jog slowly) three miles. It takes me about an hour, and I credit the loss of most of my arthritic pain and my asthma symptoms to it. How it happened is a story worth telling.
I would wake early, excited to be free, like a young child again, anxious to meet the sun and get busy. What exactly to do with that freedom was a mystery at that point. It was too early to go golfing or call a friend, but I felt like leaving the house. I knew I needed some kind of interesting activity to replace the routine of going out to work every morning, so I went for a walk.
I took the route of my very occasional after-school walk, circling around my rural neighborhood for about a half mile. After about a week of that half mile, I felt like that wasn’t quite enough, so I did another trip around the circle. Getting bored, I downloaded some new music to my iPod to entertain me and changed my route to across the road and around a different neighborhood. It worked. Walking became my work for the day.
As my stamina grew, I combined the two routes, walking first the circle and then across the road into a different neighborhood and home – adding up to almost two miles. It was July - high summer in Rhode Island. The sweat was pouring even early in the morning. When boredom set in, I changed my route again, instead of quitting. Change is good.
Within a few days, I had an interesting three-mile route (my iPod tracks distance) – starting out on level ground, then some uphill and downhill, ending back on level ground. Because I didn’t take any days off, like I now do, my right calf and hamstring started cramping at about a mile and a half into my walk. In an attempt to ease the cramp, I picked up the pace to a slow jog; it just felt like what I needed to do. I finished that walk, alternating walking and jogging.
I continued to alternate walking and jogging that three mile loop into town, enjoying the sun beaming on farm pastures and the shade along Wood River. Running past the waterfall every day, I developed an awareness of subtle changes in the water flow. I passed through a historical section of town, where every house has a plaque, declaring its original owner and date of establishment – kind of like stepping back in time. Focusing on the sights and sounds of the day, rather than the exercise, made it a very appealing activity.
I gradually started jogging more than walking, when the humidity was low. One crisp October morning, I started out jogging and it felt good. I kept going and did the whole three miles at a jog. Not a fast one, but a gentle jog. It took me about an hour. Amazed even myself and have been doing it every day since. The snow has driven me into the YMCA, which I am grateful is close to where I live, but I am anxious to return to my favorite route outdoors.
Why do I share this story? Because I give advice freely, whether or not you ask. My friends and sisters cautioned me against running so much - bad for my joints and arthritis. Funny thing, the more I ran, the less I suffered arthritic pain (I had a lot and had to medicate before a walk, when I started this story.) Now I take no pain medication for arthritis.
Read this latest research on the topic of Jogging for Older Adults. Try it if you dare. It’s a good addiction to have. http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/11/24/jogging-helps-older-adults-preserve-energy/77710.html