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Foot Notes: Embrace the running you can do at each age

Andy Sandrik
Foot Notes

This Sunday is my 36th birthday. At least that's what it says when I squint my eyes and peer at the dry-erase calendar board.

Also on the calendar: Appointments for my arthritic back on Monday and a replacement crown for a broken tooth on Thursday, as well as a reminder to schedule a visit for my vision, which rivals the sharpness of a mole.

I don't think of the 30s age group as being old, but like Indiana Jones once explained in Raiders of the Lost Ark, "It's not the years, honey. It's the mileage." I've taken my lumps from everything from high school football to binge eating to being a smoker for the entirety of my 20s.

I've taken a number of corrective actions in recent years to reclaim my youth, including adding running to my life, but the truth is real and it stings: I'm not as young as I once was. It's easy to fall into that "I'm old" mindset and get sad or feel regret.

Andy Sandrik, Foot Notes columnist

Runners deal with the same age-related issues as any other human beings. Most of us aren't as fast or durable as we were in high school and college, and some of us struggle to even perform at the same level as we were five years ago.

From one "old" runner to another: It's OK. Take a breath.

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Nothing productive can be achieved by living in the past, or getting anxious about a future we have no way of predicting. The only we thing have available to us is the here and now.

Whenever I'm in a funk about my running, I repeat these words to myself: Run the mile you're in, or in my case, run the year you're in.

Hagerstown’s Jana Fridrichova crosses the finish line as the top female at the Holiday Lake 50K++ in Appomattox, Va.

I may not be able to pump out those fast times that I used to, but I know the next race I run will be my best as a 36-year-old. My body won't just snap back to normal after my workouts, either, but I've learned I can greatly reduce my soreness by consistently stretching. And while I've known for years now that my metabolism won't make that McDonalds meal just disappear, I can still enjoy the meals I like with a little bit of self control.

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I find that the older I get the less concerned I am about things like time, pace, and race placement. Instead I find myself more appreciative of the gift of running. I may be slow, but I can still run with my kids, go for group runs, and push myself to the limits. These are all things that make me feel young, although my knee-high socks may indicate otherwise.

Aging is an inevitable part of life, but being "old" is a decision. I plan on being active and chasing the Fountain of Youth for as long as I can. The aches and pains won't stop me, but if you offer me a 4:30 p.m. dinner at Denny's, followed by a chance to set the thermostat to 80 degrees and "rest my eyes" for a spell... Well, no promises.

Area results: Hagerstown runner wins 50K in challenging conditions 

One by one, competitors dropped out of the Holiday Lake 50K++ in Appomattox, Va., where a difficult course and freezing rain took center stage.

Running in "one of the most uncomfortable" races of her life, Hagerstown ultra-running standout Jana Fridrichova proved her toughness, with the 42-year-old crossing the finish line in 5:22:29 to finish as the top female. She gives credit and thanks to her "equally tough" boyfriend/crew member Frankie Gonzalez, who will be facing challenges of his own at the Barkley Marathons in the spring.

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In other trail news, the Squirrelly Tail Twail Wun Half Marathon in Lewisberry saw Hagerstown's Ellen Amalfitano (2:34:52) and Shippensburg's Virginia Coover (2:55:51) both log race finishes.

Finally, in the virtual 80s Jamz 8K, part of "The Frozen 5" race series, saw local finishes from Williamsport's Jordyn Truax (45:07), Waynesboro's Jeffrey Hein (48:33), and Keedysville's Catherine Hall (1:03:19).

Upcoming running events in the area

Springettsbury 10K: Saturday, 9 a.m., in Springettsbury. The York Road Runners Club Winter Series reaches its halfway point with this race. Find out how to register on

Welsh Mountain 15K/30K: Saturday, 10 a.m., in New Holland. Run on the trails, through the forest, and on the roads in this event, which benefits Welsh Mountain Park. Find the race on

Falling for You Half Marathon: Sunday, 8 a.m., in Potomac, Md. Challenge yourself with this event, which features a 5K, 10K, and half marathon. Find more info on

Also: "The Frozen Five" Super Hero 5K (Saturday, Virtual); Frozen Snot 13.5 Miler (Saturday, in McElhattan); Naked Bavarian 20-/50-miler (Saturday, Feb. 27, in Leesport); Roof Park 5K/10K (Saturday, Feb. 27, in New Cumberland).

Andy Sandrik writes about running in central Pa. for the USA Today Network Pennsylvania. Reach him at