Are you too old to run a marathon?


If you think that you’re too old to run a marathon…think again! In 2005, there were over 380,000 marathon finishers recorded. Over 11,300 of these were age 60 and over. The average age for marathon finishers was just over age 40. If running 26.2 miles is on your life-time to-do list, don’t be so quick to dismiss it because you think that you’re too old to run a marathon.

Age is nothing more than a man-made count of the passage of time. It should not be used as a universal gauge of our capability. If you want to start training for a marathon, go to your physician for a check-up and ask them what precautionary measures you should take (I would think that these measures would be the same for all those age 30 & above!). Too much stress too soon can hurt anyone, and while a 40 year-old heals slower than a 30-year old (and so forth), we all seem to be much much more capable than we give ourselves credit for. The next time you say that you’re too old to run a marathon, think about this:

In the 2006 ING New York City Marathon, there were…

  • 4,434 male finishers between the ages of 50 and 59.
  • 1,318 female finishers between the ages of 50 and 59.
  • 1,178 male finishers between the ages of 60 and 69.
  • 256 female finishers between the ages of 60 and 69.
  • 129 male finishers between the ages of 70 and 79.
  • 25 female finishers between the ages of 70 and 79.
  • 2 male & 2 female finishers between the ages of 80 and 89.

Do you still think you’re too old to run a marathon? OK…let’s try the west coast…

In the 2006 Los Angeles Marathon, there were…

  • 1,822 male finishers between the ages of 50 and 59.
  • 894 female finishers between the ages of 50 and 59.
  • 579 male finishers between the ages of 60 and 69.
  • 223 female finishers between the ages of 60 and 69.
  • 101 male finishers between the ages of 70 and 79.
  • 28 female finishers between the ages of 70 and 79.
  • 9 male & 3 female finishers between the ages of 80 and 89.
  • The oldest finisher was a 93 year old male: 9 hours and 4 minutes…God bless him!

Thousands of people over the age of 50 run marathons every year…and while many people like to dismiss them as “crazy” or tell them that they’re too old to run a marathon…they just keep running. Before you discount the possibility of running a marathon based on your age, look into it some more. It may be one of the most rewarding adventures of your life.

Depending on your starting point it may take you time to gradually train yourself to run…then run farther…and then run a marathon, but please don’t immediately discount the possibility based solely on an age-myth. The accumulation of our years alive is usually not as big a factor as the accumulation of years of bad habits. So re-think the age-old excuse of I’m too old for that, and approach your life goal with an open mind.

Your doctor may very well tell you that it’s not in your best interest to run a marathon. Ask them for specifics. Is it your weight, cholesterol, or blood pressure levels? If so, the likely remedy for these conditions will probably be diet and exercise. Try adopting a fitness plan; start walking regularly and go back to your doctor for a re-evaluation in 6 months. Don’t accept false age limitations – the human body is much more resilient and capable than modern society seems willing to admit.

The training and accomplishment of running a marathon will mean much, much more than simply checking a box on your lifetime to-do list. You’ll be an inspiration to yourself and others. You’ll be a beacon of hope for all those that say that they’re too old to run a marathon as you show them your finisher’s medal and tell them that “They can do it”!

There are some iron-clad excuses out there that even the most open-minded people blindly accept. If you still think that you’re too old to run a marathon, how did those above finishers do it? And please don’t tell that 93 year-old finisher that he was too old to run a marathon…as I’m sure that he’s already started training for this year’s marathon! ;-)

Happy Running!!



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