Maria Dye is 52 and has become more active and much fitter as she has grown older. However, the ageing process has not been without it’s niggles and Maria offers her tips for growing older and staying fit.
Maria is mum to two sons, both now at university, a primary school teacher and she also runs a part-time massage therapy business, so life is busy. Yet, she tries to prioritise “me time”.
She says: “I aim to do something active to keep fit virtually every day. It’s how I relax.”
Maria, who lives with her husband Phil in Helensburgh, is most passionate about running. She says: “I only really started running in a competitive way after having children. Since my mid-30s, I’ve taken part in all kinds of races, from road 10ks, half marathons and marathons to cross country and trail running races.
“I like to train with a club and I have been a member of Helensburgh AAC for over 19 years.”
Inspired by Phil and plagued with niggly running injuries, Maria decided to give triathlon a go in her mid-40s.
She says: “It was a massive challenge as I couldn’t really swim and I was literally petrified of cycling in so many ways. To say it was a steep learning curve is an understatement.
“But I’m quite proud of what I’ve achieved in the last seven years. Highlights include crossing the finish line of an Ironman at the age of 48 and being a member of the first all-female relay team to finish a non-wetsuit swim of Loch Lomond.
“I would not describe myself as special or talented but I am determined and I love a challenge. I also believe that age is not a barrier. I’m fitter and more active than I ever was in my 20s and 30s. Plus, I’ve enjoyed my fair share of podium finishes.”
A fitter way to turn 50
To celebrate turning 50, Maria decided to run 50 miles in one race. She completed the 53-mile Highland Fling along the West Highland Way.
Then she followed this up with the Ben Nevis Braveheart Triathlon, which is a half iron distance triathlon, completed with a half marathon run of Ben Nevis.
She says: “It was an awesome way to celebrate my half a century, but I’ve suffered a bit since and my cloak of invincibility has started to slip.
“Last year, 2018, was the first year in a long time that I had a challenge-free zone due to a combination of some minor health issues and a spell of injuries, which prevented me from running.
“It’s been tough, especially mentally. For the first time I’ve started to feel my age and I genuinely worry that my best years are over.
“The misery of the injured runner is very real and probably only fully understood by those who’ve been there, too.
“But I’m doing everything I can to get back because my list of challenges is continually growing.
“My mantra now that I’m in my 50s is: ‘Use it or lose it!’ Celebrate the health you’ve got.”
Maria’s tips for fit over 50
- Be kind to yourself and give yourself permission to recover – it’s not cheating, your body needs it,
- Get in the gym and lift weights – muscle mass deteriorates as we age.
- Stay supple – yoga or Pilates are not wasted sessions.
- Get regular massage and physio.
She adds: “Basically you need to look after your body if you want it to keep performing. It’s a bit like an old car… treat it well and it’ll still have plenty more reliable miles left in it. Neglect the TLC and it’ll be a knackered old rust bucket before you know it.”