I started running at 50 – here's what you need to know

Woman in pink outside ready to run
Karen Guttridge took up running at 50

"I'd absorbed the belief that as I got older, I had to slow down and ease off high intensity workouts, which meant I was lacking in confidence when it came to exercise," Karen Guttridge tells HELLO!, sharing that she is among the 55% of women surveyed by Asics who say that low self-confidence stops us from wanting to workout.

Despite her hesitancy to hit the pavement, Karen's doctor encouraged her to take up running at 50, after a scan said that her bone density was starting to decline. "I was told 50 was the perfect time to start running, as it can keep bone density stable and stop it from dropping any further.

Karen began her journey with the Couch to 5KM app, sharing: "The more I run, the healthier and fitter I feel and each time I go to the doctors, everything's fine with my bone density. I've become confident that I'm doing the right thing by pushing myself and challenging myself rather than backing off high intensity exercise."

Woman performing a squat in the park
Confidence stopped Karen from running intially

So enamoured with the positive impact running had on her life, Karen trained as a running coach to encourage other women in midlife to begin to run.

She then set up 12-week free courses to help other women get up to five km, before they graduate to join her running group, Sole Sisters.

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Karen's Sole Sisters group is for women over 45 and has over 70 members. Karen offers running programmes for all exercise levels, creating a safe and judgement-free space for women to connect.

"Lots of the ladies in my group were too self-conscious to start running by themselves, but there's group solidarity when you feel you're part of something," Karen says of Sole Sisters. "You realise other people are beginners just like you and they face the same struggles. Having someone by your side makes all the difference with exercise."

Two women ready for a run
Karen says running with others is key for motivation

Here, Karen shares what she's learned since taking up running at 50.

1. Expect to never be motivated

It would be nice to be raring to go for every run, but that's not realistic, Karen says. "Expect that you will never be motivated to go for a run. It's a question of being disciplined and doing it despite the rain and the cold.

"Accept that you're not going to feel motivated to do it, but know that when you're back from your session, you'll be glad."

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2. Getting out is the biggest hurdle

"The barrier between your bed and the front door is the biggest barrier to getting out on your run. Once you're up and out, you'll realise it's fine.

"Just by going to your front door, in your running gear, your resistance lifts in that tiny action."

Woman stretching before a run
Karen says getting out for your run is the hardest part

3 .Set small goals

"Tell yourself you can just go out for five minutes," suggests Karen. "I guarantee that once you’re running, you'll do more. Reassuring yourself that even five minutes is good will help with the initial motivation."

 READ: I've been running for 25 years but my midlife runs are my favourite yet

4. Notice the mood boost

Asics' study showed that 52% of women surveyed said they feel happier when exercising, with Karen echoing the sentiment. "Women tell me that their kids and husbands have noticed a marked difference in their mood when they’ve been running.

"One member told me that her husband encourages her to go on her run even when she really doesn't want to, because it makes such a difference to the whole rest of her week."

Visit HELLO!'s Second Act hub for inspirational stories of women living their best midlife