Can a decade really make such a profound difference in a sport that, at its most basic level, is simply putting one foot in front of the other? Yes. Yes, it can. And sometimes, that decade clearly hates you…but there’s always a silver lining if you squint hard enough.
Running changes the longer you do it. Most of those changes are for the better, as you get into better shape and learn more of what to expect and how to prepare and train. However, some changes are inevitable simply due to aging—and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. Some runners—especially my fellow females—avoid talking about (aka admitting) some of the following, but trust me, we’re all experiencing it. Here are a few examples of things that change for female runners from their 20s to their 30s.
Bathroom Breaks are a MUST
You no longer see a port-o-potty and think, “Should I? Hummmm, it looks dirty. I can probably wait until I get home.” If you’ve had babies in the past decade, it’s not an option anymore. Dirty or not, you’ll be damn lucky just to get in the door before the flood gates (or, more accurately, the unfixable leak in the dam) makes it mark on your new running skirt for all to see and snicker about. If we’re really being honest, it no longer matters if there’s a port-o-potty nearby or not, you’ll settle for some bushes or—if it’s really a’comin’—a tree with a wide trunk.
Your route mapping now follows construction projects with port-o-potties and public places with bathrooms. (See above point for an explanation).
Bare Cheeks All the Way
You no longer wear a stitch of make-up when running. In fact, you can’t comprehend why you ever did in the first place – especially mascara, which just ended up melting, dripping, and causing your eyes to water and squint in searing pain thereby completely defeating your intention of looking prettier while running. It took a few years, but you’re finally realizing that the smile you get from running because you’re doing something for yourself which makes you feel good, healthy, and happy is far more complimentary than make-up. In fact, it’s damn sexy!
Your Body and Mind Stop Talking
You are 34; your mind frequently forgets that and approaches a workout with the same gusto and naivety as when you were 22, and your body it just confused and becomes convinced you’re actually 78. While ice baths, stretching, proper hydration, and consuming the appropriate balance of protein and carbs after tough workouts (if not after all workouts) is smart and helpful in your 20s, it’s an absolute requirement in your 30s – unless you want to be constantly battling injuries.
Run Without Fear
You’re far less likely to be fair-weather running after a decade of the sport under your feet. While you may have allowed yourself to take a shortcut, skip a run, or walk when things got hard in the past, that’s all behind you now. By your 30s, you’ve been through things much bigger and harder than running (heartbreak, childbirth, career changes, death of loved ones, marriage…that sort of thing) and running is just not something to fear. It’s raining? Great, your pit stains won’t be as visible. It’s hotter than hell? Okay, bring an extra water bottle and run slower. You’re thinking of signing up for a marathon? Hell, may as well make it a 50k – because what’s 5 more miles if you’re already committed to running 26? The attitude of a runner in her 30s is simply less intimidated overall. We don’t have time to be afraid.
Yes, running in this decade of life is a bit more consuming — both in time and passion. There may be a few newer — and quite unpleasant side effects — to running in the decade rapidly approaching middle age, but there are also some effects that cancel all that other crap out. Running in your 30s is worth every bit of extra effort that goes into it, as it makes you happier, healthier, and feel younger than ever.