Running for Life

Columbus local Jennifer Hardage, age 58 began running in August 2017.  Running is one of the only sports where you’ll see people over 50 excel. What a relief, right?!  There’s a misconception that once we “get older” our bodies cannot do much anymore or we might hurt ourselves in some way. We also know the saying, “We don’t stop playing because we get old. We get old because we stop playing.”  We can roll our eyes all we want at phrases like that, but then pausing for a moment to really take it in we realize how true it is.  Jennifer is one of the many many runners over 50 who are proving to the world that it is possible to keep moving no matter your age.

Jennifer had been working out at the gym for over a year and needed another challenge so she started running on the treadmill.  She claims she is not a natural runner.

“I am 58 years old and it’s hard. I ask myself every time, why am I doing this?  But it’s a challenge, and after I do it I’m really proud of myself for completing whatever I tried to do.”

She saw an advertisement for the Midnight Run and thought I want to do that again. She had ran the race back in the 1980’s.  So her and a friend signed up and ran/walked it together.  She adds, “Then my husband got the bug and we started running 5Ks together.  It’s been good for us to do this together and get excited about together.  I think our children we’re surprised cause they thought we were old and washed up.”

“In my high school yearbook I probably would have the least likely person to do this, especially at 58, but I’m enjoying it.  I’m retired and it has given me something to work on and to have goals and feel good about myself.”

Jennifer lives in Maple Ridge and there are a lot of hills which she runs at least twice a week. “I’m trying to work more on distance. I haven’t had any coaching, but I’ve read a lot and have been figuring it out on my own.”  She admits, “I bought an interval timer to prevent me from cheating and hold myself accountable.”

“I try to push myself every time.  I won 2nd place in my age group at Paint the Town Pink.  It was the first thing I had ever won and was proud of myself.  After that I caught the bug. I love the people that you meet and the atmosphere around it.  It’s just exciting.  And if I’m going to do it I want to be decent at it, so that’s why I train.”

“As soon as I cross that finish line I’m wondering when is the next one??”

On days that might be tougher than usual she tells herself, “How are my legs? They’re fine. How’s my breathing?  It’s fine. My body is very strong, my doubts are just in my head. I can do hard things.  Just keep moving.  Just give it all I got.”

Jennifer’s final words of wisdom to the world: “Don’t ever say you can’t. Do what you can and work towards what you want to do.”

-Charlotte Gallagher






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