51 year old starter: any tips warmly welcomed

Good morning everyone. i accidentally fell upon this Couch to 5k when looking up how to lower cholesterol. I'm a young 51 year old and am generally in good health, although I do have a bad back. I'm 13 stone so quite overweight, but that's coming off again (I had a year off celebrating getting engaged and married, which put 1 1/2 stone on).

If there's anyone else who is of a similar age and has back problems who has any hints or tips I would appreciate them.

OK, it's early and I'm in my dressing gown, but here I go!


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23 Replies

  • Welcome Philholly- I came across this by accident too and at 53 thought I would never start anything like this. Well I am a newbie too, just about to start Week 5, but I am hooked! I am slow, I am not very fit, but I am sticking with it and the people here are so supportive you just want to carry on. So I would just say as long as you are ok medically as far as your back goes, just go for it. Enjoy yourself and keep celebrating!

  • Thanks so much for your response, you've already inspired me! I shall let you know how it goes. I'm worried that the impact on my lower back will be too much, but I desperately want to be able to do this.

  • I don't now whether you plan on running outside or not- I did a couple of treadmill runs when it was too dark for outside and found it easier on the joints but I enjoy being out in the open more. Most people seem to recommend getting gait analysis at a running shop and invest in the shoes, that would maybe give you the best start with your back. Maybe a check with your GP too to ensure you aren't going to do any further damage. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

  • Well I'm 60 and I started this a year or so ago. If you've got back pain then some gentle stretching before you run and afterwards when you cool down would be good. I found that tight hamstrings were contributing to back pain and consistent gentle stretching has made a difference. Take it slowly, buy some decent shoes and watch your knees if you're a little overweight. You'll be fine. Good luck.

  • Thanks AnnieF, looks like I instinctively did the right thing. I did some stretching before. Luckily, although I have a bad back (I did up my own ruin in the south of France and turned it into lovely apartments, but transferred with the house and turned myself into a ruin!) I have good ankles and knees, they haven't suffered (so far) from the weight gain.

  • I'm 52 and decided to take this up along with loosing about 1 1/2 stone + weight before I had a gall bladder operation and graduated the day before the op last Sept. I found it helped get the weight off and toned me up. The most surprising thing for me was the huge improvement I had with a lower back problem, whether it wa losing the weight or the running I don't know. But I did very quickly throw out an ancienct pair of trainers that I really had not realised had lost their inside cushioning and bought a cheap pair of new ones and they made all of the difference to the running. Good luck, I am sure you will love it!

  • Thank you so much for the response, that's really encouraging! I might just invest in a new pair of trainers.

  • Woohoo! I did it! It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I was blessed with a lovely sunny morning (not a combination or words I've had the opportunity to use for a while!). The park is exactly 5 minutes away so the warm up time is perfect. It was the warm up that worried me, I started to huff and puff a little. I have had a recent injury to my upper back and the heavy breathing was making it twinge, I was worried I would have to stop before I had even started, but it all loosened up and about half way through I got my second wind and felt I could go on forever.

    The only issue was getting into the sports bra! It took me 15 minutes and I have no idea how I managed it. I'm so glad there were no witnesses. I looked like an inept escapologist in reverse. I have to try and get myself out of it now without taking out any windows.

    Thank you so much everyone for your responses, it truly does help, I can't wait for the next session!

  • Woohoo indeed! Well done you- glad you went out and did it! Perhaps you better build in extra time for your next run for the sports bra-nastics-( the things we have to cope with)! Good luck with the running.

  • Hello, I'm 50 and started the plan in September as I have low bone density and am in danger of developing osteoporosis. I already have a few compression fractures in my spine and sacroilial joint problems for which I have regular treatment from a chiropractor. I haven't found that running causes me any issues with my back. I did have gait analysis and bought a decent pair of shoes very early on. I am also very careful - if I feel a bit twingey I slip in an extra rest day. I've also learned which surfaces my back likes and dislikes - too much tarmac can make me a bit sore but grass can be worse as it can be uneven (rabbit holes, etc). I always do the post-running exercises on the NHS choices website after every run. My chiropractor actually advised doing them before and during a run too (between warm up walk and run stage I suppose), but my muscles always feel a bit too tight to do that safely. It's probably sensible to ask the advice of a professional before you get started, but apart from that I'd get out there and enjoy it!

  • Hi Hennith, wow, I'm impressed that you got out there. Back pain is so debilitating that you are scared to do anything to set it off again. It's taken me a few years to have the nerve to try activities again. I went skiing, but spent most of the time sliding down the mountain on my face and ended up having a tumble that put me in bed for 3 weeks.

    I didn't know about the post running exercises, I'll look them up now. Thanks again, what a wonderfully supportive community!

  • Hello Hennith,

    I stumbled on your reply after searching for people who have sacroilial joint pain and are running. Do you mind telling me a little bit on your last 3 years experience of running with a SIJ pain? Did you continue to run or did the pain take over?

    Have a great day,

  • Haha! The perils of the sports bra! I can get mine on fine, but trying to pull it off when I'm all sweaty is another matter.

    Well done for getting out there. Many of us come to this in our fifties and overweight and go on to wish we had found it sooner. Take it slow and steady, take your rest days and tracts out well after each run and you will be fine. Good luck.

  • For 'tracts' read stretch! The joys of auto correct!

  • :)

  • Well I am 51 next month and I started this program 11 months ago. I just came back from a 7.1K run this morning, having never done ANY exercise for 99% of my working life. This program works - simple as that. I was 13.5 stone and am slowly losing weight using running and MyFitnessPal app. Down to 12'10 now and falling.

    TOP TIPS : if you are determined to stick at this, get a gait analysis at a running shoes shop (Up and Running is a good shop) and buy decent footwear. They will save you a whole lotta pain and injuries!

    Good luck and post after every run so we can monitor your progress. Good luck Phil!

  • Thanks danzargo, I will go into Clapham and get a gait test. I think I had one a few years ago, but a lot might have changed. Glad to hear you're still running and that it works, also, well done for the weight loss!

    I joined Weight Watchers 2 years ago and lost 2 1/2 stone in 6 months, but then my fiancé proposed and I celebrated the whole year right up to the wedding so I regained 1 1/2 of the weight. However I've rejoined WW and lost 7lbs in 3 weeks already without leaving the sofa, so I'm hoping this activity will help speed up the weight loss.

    Thanks for the encouragement and well done for your own success.

  • Hi there Phil! I am a fellow WW and have lost 52 lbs. I'm 56 and started C25k back in October time. I had a bad back and hip, also from doing up an old ruin of a house. I've hurt my back twice since taking up running! Once I fell off a ladder and then I fell down a flight of uncarpeted stairs. Then I crocked my ankle in December. Still running though and loving it, so I know you will too. It's FUN! When you've finished that is. LOL

  • And I thought I was unique! ;)

  • I've just had my weigh in and even though I had a pizza and wine fest on some friend I hadn't see for a while on Saturday, I still lost 2lbs this week. Gobsmacked!

  • My one piece of advice, go slower ;-) Seriously, slowly, steadily plugging away at it is the best course of action.

  • Thanks Crox. I did read up about it first and luckily this advice was given, so when I started to jog I took it easy. So far I don't have any aches and pains and I can't believe how it's lifted my spirits.

  • It will get easier anyway but especially when the weight starts to drop. You're doing a big favour to your joints if shedding some kilos. About the back pain and stffness, when I am doing the walking bits, i wriggle my bum so that it loosens the lower back. Then I don't get the stiff achy back afterwards. It works for my but looks funny. That is why I like running on my own somewhere quiet! Stretching and stretching. ...

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