UK centenarian Fauja Singh didn’t start running marathons until he was 81, and at 104 was still taking part in the 42.195 kilometre events, completing the Mumbai marathon last year.
You’re never too old to run says physiotherapist Ben Bowtell, who is also a keen marathon runner.
But before you reach for the joggers, he reckons there’s more to it than simply putting one foot in front of the other.
“We are born to run, but don’t learn to run,” he says.
He’s giving a talk at Notre Dame to physiotherapy students, clinicians and the general public on running the correct way.
“It’s about learning the right technique, but it’s not a one size fits all,” he says.
Most people give up running as they age, worried about their knees and hips, but often injuires are caused by poor technique.
“They go along with the old wife’s tale that running is bad for you; it’s not.”
The health benefits of running correctly make it well worth the effort, Mr Bowtell says.
“If you can run 10 minutes a day, at any speed, it lowers the risk of hip replacement and a number of other health problems.”
The benefits include a 76 per cent lower risk of kidney cancer, and 40 per cent reduction of breast and brain cancer death and a 37 per cent better chance of surviving pneumonia.
For those wondering why a marathon is the rather awkward distance of 42.195 ks (26 miles, 385 yards) you can blame the Greeks.
In 490BC, greek general Mitiade had a resounding victory over the Persians on the plains of Marathon.
Greek soldier Phidippides ran around 25 miles to Athens with the news—where he collapsed and died from the effort. Perhaps if he’d heard Mr Botwell’s talk, he would have lived to tell the grandchildren about his mighty effort.
The talk is on August 15, 6–8pm. Tickets $40, $30 students. Book at SMA.org.au
by JENNY D’ANGER