I Ran My First Half-Marathon at 60 - You Can, Too!

04/26/2015 08:29 am ET | Updated Jun 26, 2015

One of the most exciting and fulfilling things I recently did was complete my very first half-marathon, along with my husband, in New Orleans (a perfect setting for the celebration that followed!). I never like to use this so-called midlife as an excuse not to do or try something new, but I must admit that I was a just bit wary that I might not be able to do it.

But... I did it! And what a feeling of accomplishment that was. So now I'm anxious to spread the message that you can do it, too. Training to complete a half-marathon takes patience, perseverance and persistence.

I recently reached out to fitness expert Joel Harper to get his take on training for a half-marathon. And you know what? He says you can do it, too. Read on to find out his tips:

SHERYL: Do you think anyone can run/walk a half-marathon?
JOEL: Yes, unless you have a medical issue or are not willing to put in the daily work. It's a great thing to participate in...the energy is electrifying and it's a great challenge to overcome; it gives you a set date, which is extremely important to accomplishing any fitness goal.

SHERYL: How long before the run should one begin training? And how can someone avoid overtraining and/or injuries?
JOEL: I suggest a minimum of six months of proper training. I urge all my clients to listen to their bodies. Each person is different - but exercise should always feel good and pain-free. Remember, your body speaks to you; if your knee is feeling funky, then you need to do something to fix it before you continue training.

SHERYL: What's your take on nutrition?
JOEL: Never skip breakfast. Eat three well-balanced meals and two healthy snacks each day. A rough guideline is 50 percent of your daily calories from carbohydrates; 30 percent from healthy fats and 20 percent from protein. And remember that quality matters: 100 calories of broccoli is not the same as 100 calories of chocolate chip cookies.

SHERYL: What about hydration?
JOEL: Hydrate by drinking water scattered throughout your day. The amount is specific to your body weight; take your body weight and cut it in half. That's how many ounces you should drink each day. If you worked out or ran for an hour, add an additional 10 ounces.

SHERYL: How much time should you take off from training prior to the event?
JOEL: It varies from person to person and much of it is listening to your body; but I'd suggest to slow your training down at least five days prior to the run and take it extra-easy on your training two days prior.

SHERYL: How much time should you take to rest after the event?
JOEL: Again, this is about listening to your body. Remember, everyone is different. The best thing you can do after an event? Get a massage! Your body needs time to rest and repair itself. Personally, I usually take three days completely off. Plus, the massage, of course.

Thank you, Joel, for helping me spread the message of empowerment at any age.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

8 Exercises to Reduce the Effects of Aging