Dream A New Dream
“You are never too old to set another goal, or to dream a new dream.”
― C.S. Lewis
In 2017, at the age of 48, I ran a lifetime best in the marathon of 2:49:15, which is a pace of 6:28 per mile. That was 4 minutes faster than my previous marathon PR, which I ran as a “youngster” of 42. In between I’ve had some good training that led to good races, but also had plenty of injuries along the way. But what is it that has allowed me to continue to make progress, even as I age? Well, there isn’t a secret sauce, but here are some of the things that seem to be working for me.
- Find a goal that excites you. For me, it is continuing to see improvements in my marathon time, but it could be something completely different – maybe to run a race in each state, maybe to see improvements in your age graded time, maybe to compete in Master’s track, or maybe to be able to continue to run your favorite running loop. Whatever it is, make it something that means enough that it will motivate you to get out the door even on those days you don’t really want to.
- Surround yourself with others who “get it.” I’ve been incredibly lucky to find my team (Prado Racing Team) here in San Diego, which has men and women (open and masters runners) who are all striving to be the best runners they can be. Working hard with other people is way more fun than doing it on your own, and if you know someone is waiting to meet up with you, you’re more likely to show up.
- Don’t set arbitrary limits on what you can accomplish. This one took me a while to figure out. I would look at other runners who were faster than me, and think that they just had something different that allowed them to achieve, instead of asking “well why not me?” Now, as I get older, I try to look at the strength that comes along with it, instead of thinking that my age will automatically hold me back. Of course, there are realistic limits that each of us need to acknowledge (the training load we can handle, age-related physical changes, or other life responsibilities), but don’t let unfounded self-limiting beliefs get in the way of your achievements. (Scripps Ranch photo photo)
- Don’t forget the basics. Sleep, nutrition, weight training, stretching, appropriate recovery…all that stuff matters too, probably even more so as we get older. I’ve noticed that alcohol impairs my sleep now, so when I’m in a heavy training cycle, I just skip it (the alcohol, not sleep). I also focus on trying to make sure that what I eat is nutritious, and I always eat within 20 minutes or so after a run. This is where PR Bars have really come in handy for me – especially on days where I’m not running from home, I like to bring a bar along so I can quickly get those carbs and protein in to help with muscle recovery and replenishing my glycogen stores. They also just make for a tasty snack.
So, all that said, what’s next for me? I’m training for the Chicago Marathon, and aiming to run another PR…by how much is hard to tell. But I’m feeling strong and I’ve done the work, so whatever happens in October, I’m proud of the effort I’ve put in. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep running at this level (or even a little faster), but while I can, there’s no way I’m giving up.
-Amy Halseth lives in San Diego, CA, where she works in the biotechnology industry. You can follow along with her training through Chicago Marathon and beyond on her Instagram feed, @amyhalseth.