I love running, and I love podcasts about running. Today’s episode of Everyday Runners highlighted Libby James, a 77 year-old runner who, in 2013, smashed the half-marathon record world record for her age group. Her time was 1:45:52, which makes my half PR of 1:53:34 look like I’m the older runner!
Libby lives in Ft. Collins, CO - 45 minutes from where I live. My hubby and I run in Ft. Collins almost as often as we run here. Two years ago we ran the Firecracker 5K on July 4th in FC, and when they announced the winning Masters runner’s time and that she was 75 years-old, my jaw hit the ground! As I watched her accept her award I marveled at how someone so petite could be such a running powerhouse (although the muscles in her legs were A-MAZING!).
During the podcast, she told host Matt Johnson that she didn’t start running until she was 50. She found that she enjoyed the quiet time running gave her, and she also found she was pretty good at it. When Matt asked about her training, she said she runs 5-6 days a week, usually a 4 mile loop near her house. Some days she runs a little faster, and on the weekends she likes to run a little longer, up to 10 miles. Cycling is her favorite form of cross training, although she does it because she enjoys it, not to improve her running. I loved that she seldom runs with a Garmin!
Libby inspires me for many reasons, but I think what really speaks to me about her is the fact she truly is an everyday runner accomplishing extraordinary things with her running. She doesn’t have a coach, PT, or massage therapist standing by like many runners do who accomplish what she does. She raised kids, had a job, and didn’t become “famous” by doing some of the crazy stunts that seem to lately make “ordinary” runners less ordinary.
And…drum roll please…she’s not currently a marathoner! Maybe it’s because I’m focusing on shorter distance right now, but I’m so over reading and hearing about nothing but marathon training. Hey! Racing a 5k to the best of your ability can hurt more and test your limits just as much as running a marathon. I’m thrilled to learn about a masters runner who actually enjoys running fast at shorter distances.
One of her comments really hit home with me. She told Matt how sad she thinks it is when people give up running and racing because they’re slowing down and can no longer run the fast times they did in the past. That’s when you need to run for the pure enjoyment and love of the sport itself.
I have to admit that getting older scares me, but with someone like Libby James as a running role model, maybe the saying “You’re not getting older, you’re getting better” can be more than just a cliché.