When I started my blog at the age of 50, I was setting off on a journey with curiosity and excitement. Curious to find out more about the experiences of older female runners and their participation in running. Excited about learning new skills and developing my writing, adapting it to a different format.
Why write about older women? Women over fifty are not often in the public eye, in fact it can feel that we are invisible. We don’t know much about older women’s experience of participating in sport or their attitudes to exercise.
I started by interviewing female runners over fifty because I wanted to share and give value to their storiesand to celebrate their achievements.
The six women I’ve interviewed, aged from 50 to over 70 have diverse running biographies. Two of them have been runners for most of their adult lives, four started running after the age of 40. Their motivations for running vary but they have all found a community of friends through running. By continuing to run into their fifties, sixties and seventies, all six women could be said to be exceptional. Society’s expectations are that older women, and, to a lesser extent, men, will become less active and enfeebled by ageing. Instead these women have become more active and stronger. They are also making themselves visible by running at parkrun, at races, on the track and on the streets.
Another way in which I give prominence to older women’s stories is through my curated list of blogs by female runners over 50 from the UK, USA, Canada and Australia. I’m always on the lookout for more blogs to add to the list.
Quite early on I branched off into a new area of interest. After hearing interviews with pioneering female marathon runners on the Marathon Talk podcast, I became interested in the history of women’s endurance running and have published several articles about this on my blog. For decades women were excluded from endurance sports on the grounds that they did not have the strength, that their gynaecological health would suffer and that getting hot and sweaty was unfeminine and unbecoming for women. Women were prohibited from running more than 200m at the Olympics from 1928 to 1960, and the women’s marathon was not added to the programme until 1984.
My aim is to find out about and record the stories of the trailblazing female runners who challenged the status quo and showed what women could achieve in the face of limited opportunities and prejudice. They built the foundations for women’s running today and their history deserves to be better known.
Along the way, I’ve developed a network through social media, connecting with people I would otherwise never have reached. Their areas of expertise or interest overlap with mine in one or more ways. I’ve connected with academics in the fields of sports history, sociology and sports science; with campaigners raising awareness of the perimenopause and menopause; with physiotherapists, nutritionists, athletes and coaches; with lots of runners including world record holders and Olympians; and, of course, with many active women over 50. These connections have enriched my writing, especially in the area of running history, and encouraged me to continue.
Five years on, where will my blog journey take me now? Turning 50 did not feel like a big milestone for me but turning 55 has. I feel more keenly aware of the limited time that I have left to achieve what I want to through my blog. I feel that I have something important to say and that what I am doing is worthwhile. I am not sure whatmy destination will be, but I do know that I’m going to pursue it.
Katie Holmes, www.RunYoung50.co.uk