Training for a marathon at 50
Jason Brown, MD, is an internist at Banner Estella Medical Center. His office can be reached at (623) 873-8236. For more information, talk to your doctor, or call (602) 230-CARE.
Question: I am in my 50’s and have decided to train for a half marathon. Should I seek my physician’s clearance before I begin training?
Answer: Running a half marathon is no easy feat, especially if it’s something you have never done. Before you begin a training regimen, you should always consult your physician in order to prevent injury or illness caused by this level of endurance training.
It takes roughly 15,000 to 25,000 steps to complete a half marathon, let alone the miles of training leading up to the race. Clearly, such a challenge can be very demanding on your body. As a result, you need to understand your body’s nutritional and hydration requirements, especially under the Arizona sun. All individuals differ, and so do our bodies’ needs. Using numerous factors, such as your age, gender, body type and physical condition, your doctor can safely map out a plan for your specific nutritional and fluid consumption.
At 50, your body is probably not as durable or resilient as it once was. So, it’s important to talk with your doctor about any necessary precautions that can help you avoid injury. Hip and leg injuries, such as stress fractures, pulled hamstrings and sprained ankles are fairly common among runners. Some injuries are mild while others can become quite serious. When, or if, you feel pain or discomfort, that’s your body’s way of telling you to slow down or stop altogether. Listening to your doctor and your body will help you train smarter and safer.
Any existing medical conditions you may have should also be taken into account. It is vital that you discuss your health issues with your physician prior to training. Heart and lung problems, previous surgeries or injuries, and medications you are taking are just a few examples of topics that should be addressed with your doctor before adopting a rigorous training schedule.
For these reasons, and many others, it is necessary that you discuss your exercise plans with your doctor. Based on a number of elements, your physician can help you determine whether training for a half marathon is a healthy challenge or a potential health hazard for you.