Jenni Falconer: It’s Never Too Late To Start Running

How many friends do you have who admire your commitment to running and in the same breath also comment on how they could ‘never’ do it? I bet you also find a lot of people who say they wish they’d taken up running sooner as now it’s too late? Well it’s NEVER too late!

I say this after hearing about a lady called Julia Hawkins from Louisiana in the USA. She decided to look for a new fitness challenge last year and opted for running. There’s nothing unusual or, to be honest particularly special, about taking up a new sport but the difference is that Julia was 100 years old at the time. Now, at 101, she says: “With running, it’s just me and my body. I can just go out and do the best I can and not depend on anything else to help me.”

She’s now set her sights on running the 100m in the 2017 Senior Olympics and for this she’ll probably need to ramp up her training a tad as her current regime includes going for a run ‘every now and again’! She says her friends are mostly too old to come and spectate but her children and family support her.

So the moral of the tale is that age certainly does not restrict you from exercising, nor increasing your current fitness regime. I hope that one day when I reach old age I’m still jogging away!

Whether you’re new to running or looking to maintain your current level of fitness, the key is to make sure you look after your health, warm up and stretch before and after a workout, eat a well-balanced diet and get plenty of sleep!

While marathon training, I’ve been focusing on getting as much shut eye as possible and it has made a huge difference to my performance. For three years, I’ve been hosting the Early Breakfast show on Heart radio. I’m on air at 4am every week day and with that my alarm goes at 2:30am. It’s very easy to resist going to bed early the night before, especially with so many decent dramas on the telly (I love Broadchurch and Line of Duty) but as I’ve discovered, it’s crucial to pay attention to your body’s needs.

Last year I was sleeping around four hours a night and felt like a walking zombie. Now I go to bed at the same time as my five-year-old, 7:30pm, and consequently I feel so much better! I may not be getting the recommended eight hours but it’s still incredible how seven hours of sleep can boost your spirits and your energy levels. And more importantly – you look so much better!

The other trick to guarantee longevity in your running is to look after your feet. Compared to the rest of the Europe, here in the UK we neglect this part of our body hugely.

In Spain, for example, they consider seeing a podiatrist in the same way we’d consider seeing a dentist. I recently went for a medical pedicure with Nico at Margaret Dabbs foot salon in London and presented my toenail-less, bruised, blistered and pretty unattractive feet to him, dead skin and all! He couldn’t believe I’d allowed my feet to get to this stage and in one 60-minute session literally transformed them – they ended up smooth, shiny and almost (but not quite) kissable! What’s more, my feet now feel so much better on long training runs and look far prettier just in time for flip-flop season!

So, now that the weather is improving and the days are longer my advice is to take up running, eat healthily and go to see a podiatrist! Let me know how you get on!

Jenni Falconer