You’re Never Too Old

By: Matt Young

Not long ago I took a few hours from work to run on a Friday morning. I planned to run a familiar trail where I had an upcoming race. On the way out the access road I ran up on a lady who was also running.  We greeted each other and then she said, “Looks like you’ll be out here for a while.” She noticed my water bottles.  “Are you running Haulin in the Holler in a few weeks,” she asked. 

“Yes,”  I replied, “Are you?”f

“No way. I’m too old for that”

“What? You’re not too old.” I said.

“Yes I am. I’m too old for that nonsense.”  Quite incredulous I have to add.  Like it was a ridiculous notion.

My final reply was, “You’re not too old if you want to do it. I’ve seen plenty of people older than you out there.”  I knew from experience that she didn’t give herself enough credit and I moved on.

So how old is too old to try something new?  Running wasn’t new to her, she was already doing it.  Running in that park wasn’t new to her, she was already there.  

Now that the race has come and gone the results show finishers as young as 9 years old for the 5k and the oldest finisher was a 71 year old lady who ran the 50k. That’s 31 miles on single track trails and she was out there for over 9 hours. That’s pretty impressive as far as I’m concerned (and I’m sure you’re impressed too.)   So how old is too old?  Your’e never too old if you want to do it.

I’ve been coaching new runners to finish their first 5k for over 10 years now. Our youngest finishers have been 7 years old and this past year we graduated our oldest at age 82.  The bulk of the group are women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. In fact, if there’s a ringer group for age group awards it’s the women in their 60s.  They win awards at just about every race we run and often sweep the age group awards taking first, second and third. 

I’ve met 40 somethings who seem older than my dad (74) and grandmothers that seem younger than mothers.  What’s the difference?  It sounds kind of cliché but it’s definitely the attitude.  I love to meet people that start sentences with “I can” rather than “I can’t”.  When I hear “I can’t” over and over a simple question I ask is, “OK, what can you do? Let’s start with that.”

So what can you do? How old is too old to take care of yourself?

So if you’re out there reading this article and wonder, can I do this? Can I run a 5k for the first time at my age?  I can help answer that.  I’m one person that knows you can..If you want too.


Matt Young is the head coach of Genesis Running and loves to help people run their first 5k. Learn more about the next class at

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