Running at any age is amazing! Need a little evidence? Just check out the six strong women on our March 2015 cover. We rounded up runners of all ages—from 16 to 61—who have just a few things in common: They rely on running to keep them feeling fit, confident and happy, and they plan on logging sweaty miles for the rest of their lives.
We took a look at what makes running special in every decade. We first looked at running in your twenties. Now we’ll explore what is amazing about running in your thirties! Check back soon for why running is amazing from your teens through your 60’s!
Body-positive baby time.
Pro runner Stephanie Bruce, 31, who gave birth to her first child last June and is currently pregnant with baby #2, says running provided her something to look forward to while expecting. “There is so much out of your control during pregnancy, and after the baby is born, being able to go for a run allowed me to focus my energy.” Running post-birth also creates a newfound appreciation for the body, according to Girls on the Run founder Molly Barker. “Nothing was more important than nurturing and loving it so that I could be a nurturing and loving mother to my babies,” she explains.
Be less stressed.
“Women often take the role of caregiving in the household,” says Tara Dellolacono, registered dietitian and nutrition strategist for Clif Bar & Company. This can hinder the ability to carve out time for personal reflection. Bruce manages the problem with solo runs, which “clear the head and provide that much-needed reprieve from your busy life.” Adds Dr. Chad Wells, chiropractor with The League Sports Rehab in San Diego: “Running is an excellent stress reliever—releasing endorphins and improving mood, energy and sleep.”
Kick off the bucket list.
“The largest number of finishers of the NYC Marathon are in their late 30s to early 40s,” says Gordon Bakoulis, New York Road Runners editorial director and running coach. “This is the time when many people start creating bucket lists of things they’d like to accomplish in life, and running a marathon or half marathon is often on that list.” Go big or go home, hot thang!
Running slows the aging process.
“In our 30s, the under-current of age-related bone loss is developing,” explains Dr. Stacy Sims, creator of Osmo Nutrition. It’s essential to add both calcium for bone health and vitamin D for absorption during this time. “As a runner, the impact of the sport helps stress the bone to maintain its density.”
Related: Bone Health for Female Runners
Get stronger, longer.
Olympian Ruth Wysocki says that she had more experience to draw on by the time she reached her 30s—she knew her body’s capabilities when racing and its needs while recovering. An understanding of your body provides an opportunity to explore new distances. Sports medicine practitioner Stephen Pribut says this is the decade when women often peak at longer races. Case in point: All of running legend Paula Radcliffe’s New York Marathon wins were in this decade (age 30, 33 and 34).