We are so lucky at Oiselle to have a thriving Masters running community of women in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s! We gathered together a few of our experts to share their experiences with running as they age, and to answer questions from teammates. Please enjoy a few of the takeaways from #HauteVolée Catherine Watkins, myself (Lesko), marathon crusher Cory Benson, and Elite Granny Peggy Richko.

What’s the right balance of strength training and running as a master?

Cory (60’s): My cross-training came about due to necessity. I got a sacral stress fracture in 2015. I was forced to be on the bike for a long time. Now I cross-train at least 1 day per week. I do at least 2 half-hour sessions of strength per week, and then add a few 10-minute core sessions in. I may cut my running miles back to fit strength and core in.

Catherine (late 40’s): I get a different program every 3 months, my kinesiologist will video me and send me a video of the exercises so I don’t forget them. I do core and strength before running so I make sure to get it in.

Catherine Watkins

Are there ways to stay ahead of injuries as you get into your 50’s and beyond?

Catherine: I’ve definitely gone through the injury cycle. I was injured from March to September of 2019. I need structure. I bribe myself by only letting myself watch certain shows if I’m doing exercises or cross-training...it just makes the time pass faster.

Peggy (70’s): I’ve been injured many times. And it’s the times you’re injured when you want to run the most. You have to rest. If you keep getting injured, you really need to try to figure out why (weaknesses, biomechanics, etc.).

Lesko (50’s): I’m pretty desperate because I’ve been on that injury train for the last year or so. I just got an extensive urine hormone test so we’ll see if that is helpful or not. I’ve heard that when you’re in that peri-menopausal state of hormonal flux, sometimes you just have to ride it out and get to the other side before you can regain body consistency. Crossing my fingers.

Cory: I have great powers of denial, so I tend to let little things stack up, and then all of a sudden I can’t run. When things start hurting, that’s when you should see someone. I had a really good streak of 3 years without injury, and I attribute that to those basic exercises like clamshells, leg lifts, and step-ups. The days of putting on your shoes and running out the door, and then running in the door and into your office chair - those days are gone.

Sarah Lesko

I’m curious how hard people are working in their running as masters. Do you have to dial back your goals and approach running in a zen rather than competitive way?

Catherine: I haven’t dialed it back. I’m holding onto the competitive side. I love to push myself really hard, and I love the camaraderie of hard racing. I have changed a few things though, now I do only 2 workouts per week. I got a hypervolt gun that helps work on my body. I set a timer and get up from my desk every 15 minutes. I’ve added a lot more protein to my diet, and I always eat within 30 minutes of a run. I also try to sleep as much as possible.

Cory: I have not achieved zen. I’m wound a little tight. I’m pushing pretty hard and I’m trying to improve my times. In my late 30’s and during my 40’s, I only ran a few times per week - I didn’t pick up the competitive piece until I was in my 50’s. I do two workouts per week; I’ll do a speed or hill workout and a long run every week (sometimes with speed work inside the long run). Recovery for sure gets harder.

Peggy: I didn’t do my first marathon until age 54. I went into marathon training not knowing anything. I would just run and try to figure it out. You need to figure out what your goal is. Are you trying to PR? Are you running for mental health? For me, my most successful running years were my 60’s, everything came together.

Cory Benson, Catherine Watkins

What about hormonal symptoms?

Cory: Those days seem long ago. I had a really tough time during peri-menopause with sleep disruption that lasted for years. You all know about sleep hygiene.

Lesko: I just started doing meditation. I’ve been pretty resistant to yoga and meditation historically, but Athletes for Yoga is great. I’ve been doing meditation about 10 minutes every day, and also trying to get into cold water (the lake) as many days as possible. That’s supposed to help brain chemistry and sleep.

What about changing body composition? À la Wanda Sykes’ Esther? Have you noticed that? What do you do, if anything?

Catherine: I haven’t noticed that yet. I don’t know how I’ll feel about it.

Cory: Yeah, it happens. Yeah, there are places where “Esther” doesn’t leave. It’s been hard for me to accept that. I’m doing all this work, I’m eating well, and I’m not going to look how a runner in her 40’s and 50’s looks. I try not to say mean things to myself when I look in the mirror. Lauren Fleshman wouldn’t want me to. I don’t feel that way about the wrinkles on my face or my hair color. Not sure why. It’s hard.

Peggy Richko

What are some mental tricks to staying positive and motivated, especially when you have setbacks?

Catherine: I like to have long-term and short-term goals. I might start with: I’d like to be able to do a walk-run. Setting small little goals is enticing. For me it’s about getting outside every day, which makes me feel a lot better.

Peggy: If you think of yourself as a runner, you’ll get outside and go. The toughness gets you outside. When I started running, I had no one to talk to, no one to run with. I was reflecting on some of my experiences in the 70’s, some of the crazy things...do you know that women used to wear support hose running? Because they were told it would help prevent “the jiggle.” Women would run in shorts and pantyhose! It was just absurd. I’m so happy that so many people are invested in running now! All you ladies are going to be out there in your 70’s!

What are your short-term and long-term goals? 

Short term: 

Catherine: I need to get back to good strength training.

Cory: I have a cranky achilles so I want to get past that.

Peggy: I’m trying to push myself more, and learn how to push myself more during the race.

Lesko: not be injured

Long term: 

Catherine: I want to run the Boston Marathon (in the elite race).

Cory: I want to finish a marathon feeling stronger. Instead of the last 3 miles feeling hellacious, I’d like to finish strong.

Peggy: run the Reykjavik half marathon

Lesko: I’d love to train continuously for 6 months, maybe run Boston?

Sarah Lesko
Tagged: social


Great read! I’m 45 and have had my share of set backs and then I give up. No more of that! I’m back and I want to stay in the game with smarter training. And…..can we purchase that shirt?

— Rashana Wells

I too would like to purchase a Faster As A Master Shirt.

— Denise

Thank you! I really appreciate this conversation. I was injured with a cranky Achilles last year into this year. I’m just started to get back to a bit longer mileage.
I have to remind myself after ever run, the work is not done: squats, leg lifts, swings, planks, lunges, step ups, heel raises keeps me in the race ( of life).
Also I love the shirt, alas I’m slow. Yes to a virtual masters group!

— Laura

Thanks so much for sharing the deep wisdom from the Masters! I needed this inspiration and the tailored advice that hit all the important points…appreciate you all and appreciate Oiselle more than words.

— KG

Keep kick in’ booty, gals! I also love their ‘faster as a master’ shirts. Let us know if there is a way to score one!

— Jennifer Curtin

Thank you! So great to hear the voices of badass women runners of a certain age. I’m 60 and while not as fast as I was at 30, am still pretty darn competitive, as long as I keep off the injury train. Our training has changed, but so have expectations of what older women can do. This is the new running revolution.

— Susan Spencer

I didn’t realise how much I needed to read this. A late 40s divorce, going back to work full-time, move to London from the countryside and building up my (good) life from scratch means running goals have slipped. Running has been mental support. Reading this I realise I miss a team, I need to do strength training and Lesko’s comments have made me think maybe I need to finally do yoga / meditation as well. Thank you. (And do you have a virtual master’s team and can I join?)

— Petra Moll

Where can I get one of those shirts!!!!

— Sue Meier

This is beautiful and inspiring! Thank you for the motivation, ladies!

— Elizabeth Greene