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I turn 40 today. Last weekend, I ran a marathon trying to break four hours. I’m getting older, yet I’m still aiming for my personal best. It’s one of the many amazing things about running.

I did worse than my last marathon.  And I'm okay with it.  I know I can do better than what my time says. Perhaps it was because I didn't have my usual running buddy.  I think that hurt my pacing.  (I need to trick more people into running with me.)

Running is much more than your finish time. I learn something from every race, be it diet, pacing, training, sleeping or recovery. As I turn 40, here are a few things I’ve learned about running and exercise over the years.

  • In my younger days, when I was a sprinter, I just sprinted. Now I run more for enjoyment. I like to do other things as well like CrossFit and yoga.
  • With a few runs a week, the gains aren’t as fast as if I was a dedicated runner. But on the positive side, I’m a better rounded athlete and I’m OK with that.
  • Make exercise a priority every day. I schedule my meetings around my exercise and try to move five days a week. I don’t cancel my exercise.
  • A lot of it is just mental now that I've gotten more into running 5ks, 10ks and half marathons. The level of confidence goes up knowing what you can do and spreads beyond running into other aspects of your life.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail. Find out where that uncomfortable zone is and continue to progress. It will do wonders for your confidence.
  • Running is just one component of fitness. There’s also flexibility, strength and cardiovascular fitness. If you want to run, try working in tempo, long runs and sprints. Mix things up.
  • Incorporating my family is key. We try to schedule a few races a year that we do together. It’s a great way to encourage healthy habits and spend quality time together.

Aaron Hewitt, OrthoCarolina Sports Medicine Physician Assistant 

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