Born in Mumbai, studied in Bangalore. Nadia is an excitable, cheerful, and fun-loving lady. Nadia studied in an all-girls school and was one of the smartest students in her class. Nadia grew up with extremely strict parents and was never allowed to take part in social or extra-curricular events; her primary focus was always supposed to be on her studies. Naida being rebellious in nature, still found a way to escape these restrictions.

Naida was my mum’s friend and classmate and one evening she had come to visit us. I’ve heard a lot of fun and exciting stories about her, and I was eager to meet her in person. We started chatting over a cup of tea. “Did you know Nadia just completed a marathon?.” my mum said; I was astonished and congratulated her on her achievement. My mum added, “This is not her first one,” surprised; I wondered how a woman who had just retired have the energy and confidence to run marathons; given her age, it must not have been easy. My curiosity compelled me to inquire more about it, and I gave her all of my attention as she began to tell me her story.

“I ran my first race in 3rd grade and instantly fell in love with it.” She said she did not win that race, but it did not discourage her; it motivated her to improve. She snuck out of her house every night so that her parents wouldn’t notice her practicing; she even secretly saved up and bought herself a pair of running shoes. She eventually did get caught one evening by her father, who was walking back from work and notices her in the park near their house, training while she was supposed to be at a friend’s house studying. She said that her parents were extremely disappointed with her, but she soon managed to convenience them that she can take part in sports without letting it affect her studies. Nadia was always confined to her room with a book, her parents had high expectations for her, and therefore, they forced her to continually study; that’s why Nadia found thrill or pleasure while running. She trained hard every day and studied at the same time, she was extremely drained, but she knew that her hard work would pay off. She ended up placing in all the races she took part in henceforth and also managed to come out on top of her class. She mentioned that she always took part in running events because it was something she was good at, it was not until she completed high school and the number of competitions decreased drastically, that she discovered her love and passion for running,”.Over the past few years, I had unknowingly fallen in love with it.” she said. 

“Why do you love running so much?” I asked. She replied that running had helped her experience euphoria, it always lightened up her day and made her feel happy, “sometimes it made me feel invincible.” But one of the best things about running for her was that it was a break from reality, it allowed her to be alone with her thoughts and have genuine feelings of serenity, peace of mind.

Unfortunately, in her 2nd year of college, she had a bad ankle injury and was advised not to run for at least the next three years. She said that she always had the urge to start running again and that it was heartbreaking that she couldn’t, but she realized that it was not worth risking the chance of ever running again. She soon got busy with work, and due to lack of free time, she was not able to run for a long time. Nadia had become so accustomed to her daily routine of running, which was a way for her to deal with her thoughts, that when she had to stop abruptly, it made her depressed. Nadia felt that she lost the one thing that made her happy.

A couple of years had passed, Nadia is now a wife and a mother of two. The time had come for Nadia to retire. She was excited about what the future had in store for her. After her retirement, she thought it as the perfect time to slowly start running again but was still hesitant. At 55 years of age, she knew that it was not going to be as easy as it was before, and it is quite evident that her body has gotten slower and weaker. She decided to take some precautions and play it safe. She spoke to her doctor, as he was the one person who had perfect knowledge of her physical capabilities and could give her some good advice on how to move forward safely, so she decided to wait until he gave her the green light. Her doctor said it was okay and gave her some dietary suggestions to improve her performance, she rushed home exhilarated, and began searching for her old running shoes. She found them, but they were old and worn out. Disheartened, she sat there, with a face as long as a fiddle. Her son, Mark, saw that she was sad and decided to surprise her, he bought her new running shoes and her eyes sparkled with anticipation. “The feeling was unreal; I couldn’t stop thinking of putting the shoes on and hitting the road.” 

A picture of her old running shoes.

Being a runner, she knew it was important to be moderate with the intensity of her workout and that going slow will help minimize the risk of getting hurt. Given her previous injury, she had to take extra precaution. She had gained some excess weight over the past few years, and she knew that in order to run longer distances, she had to increase her total body fitness. She started walking short distances, and exercising simultaneously I lost 50 pounds in about nine months just by walking everywhere”. She gradually moved on to jogging, and then she started running. She realized that the training she did in college was not nearly as challenging as what she is doing now “When I was younger, I used to utilize the trees as checkpoints.” She had realized that now she couldn’t cross half of the checkpoints she used to pass before. This fact upset her, but she realized that things have changed, and she set training goals that were appropriate for her age and started again. “It felt like I was alive again,” she said. She said that she goes on jogs daily, and it has helped her heal spiritually and mentally, and she started to feel young again. After her injury, she thought that she would never be able to run like how she used to, but after a couple of months of training and hard work, she was back on her feet. Even at 56 years old, “I am full of energy.”, she said. She recently found herself registering for a 5k marathon. She is excited about what’s coming and can’t wait for what the future has in store for her. 

Nadia gave me some great insights that I think would be helpful to people that may want to take up running post-retirement :

  • Make sure to visit your doctor before: Discuss your senior fitness plans with your doctor to get some clarifications on what will be best for you. Often he may suggest some diet options to help boost your progress and performance.
  • Recovery is essential: In your younger years, you might have been able to run daily, but as you age, your body needs sufficient time to recovery.listen to your body and don’t restrict yourself from taking a day off.
  • Increase your effort gradually: It is important to start slowly, drastically increasing your speed or distance can cause injury or pain.
  • Adjust/Revaluate your goals: You must accept that things have changed and set new achievable goals. Try avoiding comparing your old self to your younger self.
  • Make sure to do strength and flexibility exercises: Senior runners have to take more precautions as our muscles tend to lose their flexibility so it’s advised to take up specific activities that can improve the strength and flexibility of your muscles.

  

“Age is just a number.” Whether you’re practicing a lifelong hobby or learning something new, your retirement can be the time in your life to make your dreams come true. It is noticed that as you age, you begin to lose self-esteem and confidence, and this can lead to a self-destructive lifestyle, there are many ways to feel better about yourself and improve your outlook on life. All it takes is a little work.  

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