Getting Back into Running after a 20-Year Break

So as I stare down my 39th birthday, I’ve found that things don’t happen like they used to…specifically, metabolism things. In the span of eight years, I got married, stopped playing competitive tennis, had three children, encountered severe health and behavioral issues with two of my kids, I work two jobs, volunteer for several organizations, and try to see my friends on occasion so that they don’t forget me. I’m like every other mom out there; we are stretched thin and just hope that we are doing things “good enough.” Therefore, fitness gets placed on the back burner (or out in the garage). But as my children have grown a bit more independent, and my body doesn’t bounce back the way it used to, I had a moment last Christmas where I realized that this was up to me: this “staying healthy” thing.

I’m an all-or-nothing person, so because I haven’t worked out since 2010, I decided that 2019 was naturally the year I should start running 5Ks. Oh yes, I haven’t run since high school track in 1998, so THIS makes a ton of sense for me (sarcasm heavily implied). But I read one super motivating post and decided that it was time to DO SOMETHING JUST FOR ME. Below is what I’ve found that’s helpful as a middle-aged mom getting back into running.

-Cute Workout Gear; Good Shoes

I’m not going to lie, buying something cute to wear can be very motivating to me. DON’T JUDGE. When I decided that I was going to start running, Old Navy happened to have a sale on activewear, and I snatched up a bunch of $10-$15 shirts, sports bras, and leggings. Cute mesh backs, side or back ties, and cut-outs on running tights were enough to get me at least a bit excited about running again. Another near-obsession is the cute athleisure line, Athletique & Co. that I LOVE.

I splurged on running shoes, just because I knew that injury was a very real risk and would keep me from my goals if I didn’t go for the best shoes I could afford. I went to a nearby Run-On, got measured, had them watch my running gait, and tried on a ton of shoes (and told them I couldn’t do more than $100 for shoes at this point in my running journey). I’m SO glad I spent a bit more on shoes that are made for running, and have features that work with the kind of runner I am (I need a lot of support around my ankles, and a ton of cushion under my feet since I have high arches).

-The Right Playlist

I sent out an SOS to Facebook friends and my family, just to get a varied list of songs people listen to while working out. I’m so glad I asked; I ended up with a great mix that I have been able to divide into warm-up songs, running songs, cool-down songs, and walking songs. I have everything from Tyga to U2, Kanye to The Weeknd, Lady Gaga to Cardi B, etc.

-Actual Accountability

I was putting up my Christmas tree when my friend/coworker texted, saying, “You. Me. Gym. 2019.” I had just been thinking about how I knew that I needed to get back to the gym; there was no excuse for me to NOT work out, since my office has a gym. It was the push I needed to make the decision to start working out again. Since then, we’ve settled on a twice-a-week gym schedule, where we may or may not run together (she runs on the treadmill; I like to run outside), but it’s nice to know that I have someone to go with to the gym, where we meet up afterwards to do ab routines, talk about our runs, and head back to the locker room together. It’s just nice to not be alone.

-Couch-to-5K App

Probably what has kept me from injury (apart from my new shoes) is taking my time and not pushing too hard into the running. I ran track in high school, and when I run, I can feel myself pushing to go just a little bit faster, like I’m a few paces behind someone in the 1600 again. I have to remind myself that it’s not a race this time, that this is about finding a rhythm, doing what’s best for my body, and not racing against time. The Couch-to-5K app is literally a voice in my ear telling me when to walk, when to run. I don’t have to think, I just do what it tells me. It’s a nice break from my workday, actually.

-Mixing Up My Workouts

I don’t get to this every day, but my GOAL is to keep a mix of activities to keep me from getting bored. I run with the Couch-to-5K app, I do yoga some mornings, I do some ab work. I am going to try to add in weights ASAP. Anything to keep me from getting bored. I want to start playing tennis again, possibly with my husband, just to have something else to fall back on that is fitness-related.

-A Defined End Goal + Rewards

If my goal was to lose XX amount of weight, this would not work for me. My long-term goal is to run an entire 5K without walking. So I signed up for three 5Ks this spring (YES, I’m crazy). Three different races with three different groups of friends. I’m excited about all of them, and knowing these are in my future keeps me going in the day-to-day running/working out I’m doing now. PLUS each week I enjoy a warm bath filled with Epsom salts and bubbles; it’s literally the only thing keeping me from being sore 24/7. Additionally, I’ve promised myself that if I run for four straight weeks, I get to treat myself to a massage at Woodhouse Day Spa. More ideas for fun weight-loss rewards (a post that helped me rethink how to celebrate each milestone in the fitness journey). #treatyoself

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing a variety of health and fitness-related posts meant to guide, inspire, and motivate you on your journey. We hope these will be a valuable resource for a moms; whether you’re still going strong since January 1st OR possibly need to be re-motivated. 


Whitney Reed
Whitney is originally from central Illinois but moved to Texas for love. After enjoying being a single twenty-something in Dallas, she settled down in 2010 and married her college sweetheart (the guy who got her here). She has two sons and a daughter. Whitney works for a major retailer in digital marketing creative, where she has been since 2009. She loves Dallas—the amazing friends she has met here, the Tex Mex, the bluebonnets, the arts and culture, the mild winters, and having lots of family, including her in-laws, one of her sisters, and her favorite uncle, nearby. Her passions include reading, sports, (daydreaming about) traveling, and spending time with friends and family.


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