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
We have to stop the madness of believing that we can change people and their behaviour by banging them up in warehouse conditions.
— Read on www.new-thinking.online/politics/penitence-versus-redemption-in-the-criminal-justice-system
Ciara Moore|Founder Female Leaders At 50
Hands up who thinks we are sitting way too much while working?
With COVID many of us are working from home and we are often missing that walk to work and the occasional use of the stairs to our next meeting. Many of us are sitting for over 10 hours at our desks in the office or at home with little or no movement.
Research has found that workers who remain inactive (or extended sitting) for over eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking, rather worrying statistics.
So how can we change this?
We can do this by introducing walking meetings. A walking meeting is simply a meeting that takes place during a walk instead of in your office or at your desk.
What are the benefits?
Did you know that recent research finds that the act of walking leads to increases in creative thinking? Plus there is plenty of evidence that suggest that walking meetings lead to more honest exchanges with your team and are more productive than traditional sit-down meetings. One study found that employees who participate in walking meetings are 5.25% more likely to report being creative at their jobs than those who do not. Additionally, the study showed that walking meetings support cognitive engagement, or focus, on the job. Those who participate in walking meetings are 8.5% more likely to report high levels of engagement. The health benefits of doing a 30 minute walking meeting are increased cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones. Walking can reduce the risk of you developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers.
Walking meetings are not breaks from work.
They are meetings that would have taken place regardless of whether they were held in someone’s office or while sitting at home on your screen. Dr Ted Eytan of Kaiser Permanente says that our brains are more relaxed during walks due to the release of certain chemicals. This aids our decision making function, which controls how we focus on tasks and deal with unforeseen events, among other things.
The best meetings for walking meetings are ones where you can discuss decisions you may need to make decisions or you are exploring possible solutions. A Harvard Review study showed that ‘participants holding managerial and professional positions experienced more of a creativity boost from walking meetings than those in technical or administrative type jobs (though all categories realized some benefits).’
‘When I was starting people would say we need to sit in front of a computer and discuss this thing. Well what I’ve actually learned is that the part about sitting in front of a computer is really assisted by organizing your thoughts. So if you really truly do need to see something that’s online or a piece of paper then what I would do is walk for about 30 minutes and organize our key takeaways and what the problem is that we’re trying to solve. Then when we get in front of the computer or in front of the papers we’ll have a more directed, focused view of what we’re trying to see and it works out just great. Everything you do in work is better when you can organize it in advance and it’s better to do it with the person right there.’ Dr Ted Eytan
So how do I start?
Plan your route
Do this needs in advance, consider whether the route have too many distractions or be too noisy.
Don’t surprises your colleague or boss with a walking meeting
If you are meeting up agree it in advance and encourage them to wear appropriate footwear ensure to give them prior notice.
How many people?
It is best to stick to one on one. When working from home especially in social distancing times you can pop your headphones in and talk on the phone while you walk.
Agree what you will discuss.
Ensure what you are discussing is appropriate so discussing an idea or goal or knowing each other better. It is best to leave formal or sensitive meetings to a private office.
To capture the outputs from your meeting you can make voice notes which automatically transcribe on your phone for follow up after the meeting is over. You then don’t have to type anything up.
Your biggest challenge will be to encourage more colleagues to do this type of meeting, Share the benefits of the approach not only the health but the benefits that this type of meeting brings. Of course if you agree as a team to commit to it becomes all the easier.
Data shows that those who participate in walking meetings, are more satisfied at their jobs than their colleagues who don’t.
Hopefully the above has set out a good case to be made for walking for you and your teams health benefits.
Why don’t you give it a try?
Ciara M. B. Moore 11/11/21
Ready for a walking meeting
We just published the first episode of our new podcast! Listen to Female Leaders At 50 on Anchor https://anchor.fm/ciara-stokes/episodes/Lift-as-we-rise—Female-Leaders-At-50-e12cild