Shut Up and Run – How Running Can Keep You Looking and Feeling Young and Strong

Running definitely has a lot of health benefits. For Shut Up And Run blogger Beth Risdon, she believes that running is one great way to make her feel young and strong (despite being 50 years old!).

In this interview, you will find out how running has taken Beth to beautiful places. You will learn her best tips to avoid injuries, how she balances family life with training, her favorite gear, and much more!

Runner Beth Risdon

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Beth Risdon. I’m a wife, mom to two teenagers, blogger and social worker living in Longmont, Colorado, USA. I was born in Chicago, but spent most of my life growing up in Maryland. I also lived in Athens, Greece for four years – from 7th-10th grades. I moved out to Colorado in 1993 on a whim from Virginia with my then boyfriend (now my husband of 22 years!)

My favorite hobbies are running, cycling, triathlons, doing pet therapy at hospice with my golden retriever (Heidi), reading, and traveling.

How and why did you get into running?

I started running in 2008 when I was 41 years old. I received a post card in the mail trying to recruit people to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by coaching them to run their first full or half marathon and fundraising. Four months later and after being trained by Team in Training, I ran the Rock and Roll Phoenix Marathon. I was then hooked on running and have done 10 marathons, two Ironman distances triathlons, and countless other races since. I had always been active in my past and as a gymnast in high school. But, running was new to me.

Runner Beth Risdon

Why is running important for you?

Running has been transformative not just from a physical perspective, but also mentally. When I run, I feel strong and accomplished. When I first started running, it was something I did by myself and for myself. When you have young kids, it’s hard to find something like that, so running was a lifesaver for me. These days, and having turned 50 this year, I feel running keeps me healthy and motivated. When I run, I feel young, and strong, and that’s a good feeling. I also love the places running has taken me (Jerusalem and Paris to name a few) and all of the neat people that I’ve met through the sport.

I do probably 95% of my runs outside. Colorado is a gorgeous place to run even when it’s freezing and snowing. I take advantage of that. Being outside and in nature doing something I love like running is a double bonus. It is rejuvenating and I come back after a run in a much better place mentally than when I first walked out the door.

Runner Beth Risdon

What have been the best and most difficult parts of running?

Best part is staying in shape, learning how to become a better runner through proper form, nutrition and training, meeting people and seeing what my body is capable of.

Hard part is realizing that as women, we are vulnerable when we are out there running alone. A few years ago, my cousin Sherry was murdered while running and this was a wake up call for me and many others. It stinks that we have to be more careful as women but this is our reality and we need to accept it.

I do 8 to 10 races a year, so there is some money and planning that goes into that. However, I don’t let it take over my life. I really try to find a work/training/family balance. I’ve always been one to “work hard, play hard”, which means I leave plenty of time for things other than work and training. I’d say the biggest dangers are what I mentioned about running safety, but also running so much on the trail poses dangers from running into wild animals to falling. You really have to pay attention every step of the way.

Runner Beth Risdon

How do you eat and sleep?

I go to bed early and get up early; usually sleeping 8-9 hours per night. My diet is pretty good – I try to eat non-processed foods and I cook almost everything from scratch using simple ingredients. I also don’t eat out a lot. I don’t really care for sweets, but I do like my savory snacks like potato chips and I definitely like my wine. I think my diet is pretty well rounded, but I don’t deprive myself of anything.

Many years ago, I became very intuitive about eating. This means that I don’t focus on calories and weigh per se, but anytime I’m hungry I really take time to think of what it is my body wants/needs at that time. Sometimes it is more protein, sometimes it is carbs or sometimes I’m just thirsty. I think it’s really important to trust your body.

The only supplements I take are multi vitamin, calcium and vitamin D. I’m not into protein shakes or things like that. I love to eat real food.

Runner Beth Risdon

How do you handle injuries and recovery?

When I first started running, I got injured all of the time. I know I was doing too much too soon. I was forced to take weeks off at a time and I would do a lot of water running (ugh hated that) and swimming. These days, I don’t really experience injuries anymore. I think that’s due to finally becoming a more balanced runner in the sense that I take more rest days, do more cross training and don’t try to run through pain. I also think the sport of triathlon and trail running have been really good for my body. I’ve developed core strength and use lots of different muscles than I do when I just run on the pavement.

What is your best advice people new to running?

So many things I would tell a new runner: Ease into the sport and be very careful about increasing speed and mileage too quickly. Listen to your body and take rest days seriously. Start slow, take walk breaks and build up over time. Make manageable goals for yourself. The first time you do a race, it doesn’t have to be a marathon. Pick something small that you know you can accomplish.

In my mind, the key to getting out is to not overthink it. That’s where my Shut Up and Run mentality came from. I find that if you get out the door before your brain really knows what you are doing, it’s the best approach. Also, tell yourself you’ll just go out for five minutes and see how you feel. Chances are you won’t be ready to stop at five minutes!

Runner Beth Risdon

How do you prepare for events and races?

For marathons, I usually do a 16-week training cycle with one or two rest days built into the week. I do quite a bit of cross training like swimming and cycling. I like to do at least one day per week of speed workouts such as Yasso 800s or hill repeats. I try to train very specifically for the race I’m doing in terms of terrain, weather, elevation gain, etc.

How do you finance your sport?

I’ve had sponsors on and off who have paid for my travel and race entries. But, for the most part I pay for them myself. I do get some free gear, which is nice. I’m not a huge shopper and I prefer to put any extra money I have into traveling and race entries. It can get really expensive, so I have to pick and choose. The trail races tend to be less expensive and more casual, and I like that.

Runner Beth Risdon

How do you balance family life with training?

I’m pretty good at time management – I make a lot of lists. I schedule in my runs and other workouts just like I would a doctor’s appointment. I work from home, so it’s pretty easy for me to get up early, get a few hours of work done, then head out to run as a way of taking a work break.

On the weekends, my husband and I go out for a long training run before the kids even get up (they are teenagers you know). I probably spend the average amount of time training for races. For a marathon, it’s about 6-7 hours per week, whereas for an Ironman it’s more like 15-18 hours. If I worked a regular 8-5 job it would be much harder to train the way I do. But with my schedule, I have a ton of flexibility to work on the weekends and evenings.

What has been your best sport purchase below $100?

I’m a pretty basic runner and don’t have a ton of extra gear. I now run in the Nike Free RN shoes and those were below $100 – about $80 on sale. I’ve been through lots of different shoes and I love the fit, cushion, lightweight and low heel drop of these shoes.

I run a lot on trails and I LOVE the Orange Mud Hydra Quiver (MSRP about $80). It is a hydration system with one 22 ounce bottle. It has room for gels, phone, etc. in a pocket. I don’t even notice I’m wearing it. I’ve been using it for the past four years and it’s held up incredibly well.

What other favorite gear do you have?

I’ve gone through quite a few running watches. My current favorite it’s the TomTom Spark Cardio. I love it because it does all of the fun GPS things and has a wrist heart rate monitor. It also has the capability to store 300 songs and comes with Bluetooth headphones that sync up to the watch. It’s really nice to have all of that in one gadget and to not have any wires or to have to carry a phone for music!

Runner Beth Risdon

What will the future bring?

I’d love to do a half Ironman next year and PR my time. Another goal is to pick a place I’d love to travel with and find a race there. For example, last year I went to Paris to do the Paris marathon. Best way to combine my love of travel and running. And then there’s always the wish to qualify for Boston again!


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2 Comments

  1. 50- that’s not old! I am turning 64 in a month and have been running since 1971 (that’s 46 years if you don’t want to do the math). I weight 128 and am training for my 131st triathlon (a half ironman-which will be my 8th 70.3).
    Doing my 10th swim from Alcatraz next summer. It’s just not running that keeps you young…just keep moving.

    • Agree. I’m sometimes running with a guy who is ~70 years old – and he is faster than a lot of younger people.

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