Running at 70 years old: Mo's running journey to better wellbeing

[Phote credit: Maureen Seabourne]

Mo celebrated her 70th birthday last week and when I read her post about going out for a run in the week of her 70th year, I was blown away and thought I'd ask her to share her running journey with you. I am really lucky to know Mo through work and has only just retired this year as a Health Care Assistant in the community. I know how much she loved her work and I know she will be greatly missed by her colleagues and patients, as she is a real joy to be around.

Mo was really honest about her running journey and how it has helped her physical and mental wellbeing and that even in later life you still need to stay active to maintain your fitness and social contacts.

Obviously, running isn't suited to everyone especially those with physical and clinical limitations, but that doesn't mean there isn't something else out there for you. I would urge you to speak to your GP or healthcare professional before starting any new exercise programme and to start at a lower intensity and build up gradually. I hope Mo's story inspires you that it's never too late! And you can still try new things in later life that can have a positive impact on your health and wellbeing.

So here's how Mo got started.....

Mo why did you start running? Did someone inspire you?

Yes, my daughter asked me if I would like to start the couch to 5k with her. We started going every Tuesday evening in Mangotsfield and then we downloaded the app to do additional walks/runs for the rest of the week. This was your homework they gave you on the face-to-face sessions.

Have you ever run before?

No, I just went for long walks with my husband and with my children and going for bike rides mainly.

Did you buy much kit?

No, my grandson gave me some running shoes and I bought some leggings from Sainsbury's for £6!

Did you enjoy using the couch to 5k app?

Yes, it was really simple to use but much more fun going with a group of people on a Tuesday. You start off walking for 90 seconds and then run for a minute and then back to walking, and you build up gradually from there. I liked listening to Heart Radio while I was doing it.

How long did it take you to graduate from couch to 5k?

9 weeks and I completed my 5km in 44 minutes!

[Photo credit: Maureen Seabourne]

Did you go on to do any other running events?

Yes, after graduating in July I went on to do my first 10km in September. It was enough for me and I preferred running smaller distances. Running should be enjoyed at my age. I then continued running at my local Park Run every Saturday and acheived a personal best (PB) of 42 minutes.

In the following March I completed the Bitton Railway for 5 miles and did it 1hr 4mins and 59 secs.

Since then we've been in lockdown and I haven't done any more events, unfortunately.

For some people reading this, they might be worried about injuries. Have you ever injuried yourself running?

Well, I haven't injured myself in terms of muscle injuries but I did fall over once which was quite embarrasing. I just tripped on a post, which could have happened to anyone. I was fine, and came away with a few scrapes on my arm. My running friends were so good and kept checking in on me the following day, but they need not have worried. I was absolutely fine.

[Photo credit: Maureen Seabourne]

Do you still go out running?

Oh yes! I go out twice a week for around 2.5 miles which is long enough as I don't like to go very far when I am out on my own.

I worked really hard to build my running up, I'm not going to let that go even with lockdown.

You seem quite motivated Mo, which leads me onto: how do you keep yourself motivated and how do you prepare?

I lay out my clothes the night before, with my headphones so it saves me time in the morning, and then I don't find excuses not to go. My smartwatch keeps me motivated too as it records my speed and how active I have been throughout my week. I am not always looking to get faster, it doesn't matter how long it takes me I just enjoy getting out and doing it.

How does running make you feel?

Brilliant!! I really really do! It's improved my mental health especially as I am quite an anxious person. It's not just the exercise but the people you meet on Tuesday evenings (when we could). I also feel much stronger physically as well, I don't get as breathless as I used to.

What one word would you say to someone who has just started running, that describes why running is worth it?

One word?! I would say..... PROUD. I feel really proud of what I've achieved.

So you should be Mo :-)

I can't tell you how much Mo's pride and enthusiasm beamed down the phone and it was so brave of her to talk about how running has improved her mental health. I hope you can all join me in wishing Mo a very happy 70th birthday and a healthy future ahead of her.

I hope Mo's story inspires you to get started on your fitness journey at any age, whether that's running, walking, or starting an exercise class. Some of you may get started at home by walking more often in the house and building up gradually. Ask if someone in your bubble can go out with you to start increasing your intensity and duration.

It is without a doubt that being physically active helps improve our mood and general wellbeing, such as improved cognition, sleep, self-confidence, energy levels, and reduction in stress, and social isolation. If you would like to learn more about how and where you can start your running or walking journey then I've listed some great websites below.

Best of luck!

Couch to 5k


Park Run

Run Together

This Mum Runs

Walking for Health