Meet Janet Gardner. GPR Writer.

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Janet Gardner. Image supplied.

Janet Gardner. Image supplied.

Janet Gardner is a US based writer for Good People Run and a frequent urban jogger, writer, and blogger who talks from the heart. But this was not always the case. Several years ago Janet was inactive and unfit, but at age 50 took up running. It has changed her life and Janet openly embraces being a female runner of a ‘certain age’ having found running in her later years, and we wanted to know more.

“While I have nothing but respect for folks whose combination of genetic good luck and old-fashioned hard work has allowed them to achieve their lofty physical goals, this blog is different. I’m interested in a different sort of fitness and health. I don’t count calories or weigh myself daily. In fact, I don’t even own a scale. And I don’t spend time calculating my VO2-Max or worrying about glycogen windows.” – Janet Gardner.

Where are you based Janet and what do you do as a profession?

I consider myself deeply fortunate to live in one of the loveliest places I know, Cape Cod in Massachusetts. The place has a reputation for being a beachy summer playground for well-heeled vacationers, but we year-‘rounders appreciate the less obvious enticements of the off-season—foul weather, solitude, and all.

For work, I manage the office of a massage therapist and do a bit of bodywork myself, with a particular focus on oncology massage, providing pain and anxiety relief for cancer patients. I also do some freelance writing when I get the chance.

How would you describe yourself?

This is my most dreaded question, as I never know how to answer it. I feel that I’m entirely ordinary, but doesn’t everyone feel that way, at some level?

Your story taking up running in your 50’s is inspiring. What was the catalyst for you to start?

I wish I had a genuinely inspiring answer—some sort of life-and-death scare, or maybe a desire to bring attention to a great cause—but the truth is rather mundane. I had simply had enough of being unfit, getting winded every time I climbed a flight of stairs and feeling sluggish by the end of every work day. If I was ever going to get fitter, I knew it was up to me.

I had simply had enough of being unfit, getting winded every time I climbed a flight of stairs and feeling sluggish by the end of every work day.

As for why running, specifically, it just seemed to make sense. It’s such a natural exercise, something we all did as kids without thinking much about it. As we grew up, though, only the kids who were good at it stuck with it. I had (still have) no natural talent for it, but it turns out that doesn’t matter—you can be slow and have mediocre form and still be a runner. I also like that running requires little equipment and can be done almost anywhere, on my own schedule and on my own terms.

Janet out enjoying ocean views. Image supplied.

Janet out enjoying ocean views. Image supplied.

What’s your philosophy on giving back to people through running?

For me, it begins with my deep gratitude for all that running has given me: more energy, a clearer mind, a brighter outlook, time alone with my thoughts, good times with other runners, and, perhaps above all, greater confidence and belief in my own abilities. It’s stunning, really, that the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other can make life better. And, of course, people who are happier, more energetic, and more fulfilled can give more to their families and communities. So, like small ripples on a pond, running can actually make the world a better place. It sounds absurd on the face of it, but I really believe it’s true.

Why are you involved with Good People Run? How do you feel your involvement will give something back to readers?

My biggest hope is that I can reach people more-or-less like me—perhaps people who are middle aged or older or who have never considered themselves sporty or fit. I hope such people might read my writing and think, If she can do it, I can. I know not everyone is going to take up running, but if just a few readers decide to run (or walk, or swim, or dance, or…), then perhaps they’ll come to understand the many benefits it brings, and they can pass that joy along to others in their lives.

Your top three tips to achieving happiness?

Abraham Lincoln famously said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Who am I to argue with Abe Lincoln? I truly believe that much of happiness is in our control, but first you have to make up your mind to be happy.
Of course, making up your mind is only the start. The second step is to follow through and do something to make yourself happier. (Hint: try running.)
Third, pass it on. When you help others, even in small ways, it rebounds on you many times over.

What did your friends think when you out of the blue went from the couch to runner? Have they been inspired to get more active themselves?

Other than my husband, I didn’t tell a lot of people what I was doing at first. I think I was afraid of quitting or failing and didn’t want too many people to see me fall flat. After running my first few road races, and especially my first half marathon, I finally felt it was okay to call myself a runner. I have to say, my friends were surprised and proud of me, which made me even more determined to stick with it.

So, like small ripples on a pond, running can actually make the world a better place. It sounds absurd on the face of it, but I really believe it’s true.

The person I’ve had the most inspirational effect on is my husband, Dan. He ran some in his twenties but hadn’t for many years. Now he’s back to it, and I’m helping him train for his first half marathon early next year.

Janet lacing up her favourite runners. Image supplied.

Janet lacing up her favourite runners. Image supplied.

You message clearly shows that being older does not stop you from being active. The physical benefits of running are apparent, but what personal benefits have you gained since running?

There’s a lot of talk about how exercise “slows down” or “stops” aging, which is both ridiculous and destructive. When I’m 80, I’ll be 80. The goal is not to be younger but to be as fit and active an 80 year old as I can be. If we treat aging as something to be “stopped,” we support discrimination against older folks and make it harder for people to believe they can remain fit and healthy as they age.
In addition to the many physical benefits—from healthier bones and skin to a lower incidence of dementia—running does offer specific advantages to older athletes. At a time in life when many people begin to complain that they don’t have the energy they once did, I actually have more spring in my step than ever. And, while I’ve always been relatively optimistic, I have also noticed a real improvement in my overall mood and outlook, as well as increased self-confidence. If someone invented a drug that did all this, they would win a Nobel.

I see that you have become an active blogger www.TheOldBroadRuns.com since running. How does running help you with this creative process?

I was a writer before I was a runner, but there’s definitely a connection between the two processes. Because writing is a sedentary activity, it’s easy to start feeling sluggish or sleepy when you’ve been at it for awhile. There’s nothing like a run to clear your mind and wake up your creativity. Ask any runner, and you’ll hear how they were out on a run and suddenly saw the solution to some problem that had been nagging at them for days.

You don’t need to look any farther than Good People Run to see that runners, in addition to being kind and generous, are a creative lot.

Describe what your #runnershigh is like, if you get one that is.

So many people talk about the runner’s high that I have to believe it exists. Sadly, though, I can’t say I’ve felt it at least not in the sense one hears of. I’ve never felt that running became effortless or that I could go on forever. I do, however, get a big boost in my mood after a run, especially one where I’m pushing myself to go faster or climb hills.

I see you run mostly run in your local town, so what’s your favourite runs and why?

I’m so fortunate to live in a place that provides such beautiful scenery on a daily basis. I typically leave my front door in Falmouth, Massachusetts and run through leafy residential streets until I reach the ocean and continue my run along the shore road. Looking one direction, I see the sailboats and ferries crossing to the island of Martha’s Vineyard; in the other direction are salt marshes full of singing birds. I can then either continue up the hill, past the lighthouse, and into the lovely village of Woods Hole, or I can turn onto a paved bicycle path and enjoy the quiet, shady woods. I read a lot about how you should vary your runs to avoid boredom, but I find it hard to imagine I’d ever tire of my own neighborhood.

You get a lot of snow where you live! How to you manage to get out and run in these conditions? What motivates you to keep running during these months?

It’s definitely a challenge to keep active through a New England winter. (Students of American history may recall that the brutal winter of 1620-21 claimed the lives of nearly half the Mayflower pilgrims.) Really, though, that’s when we most need to keep active, to fight off the effects of short, dark days and heavy winter meals.

You don’t need to look any farther than Good People Run to see that runners, in addition to being kind and generous, are a creative lot.

I have friends who run in all weather conditions, and I admire them greatly, but I confess I turn to the treadmill at the gym for the coldest part of the year. Treadmills get a bad rap, but I believe they are only as boring as we let them be. Music and audio books are a big help.

How is running important to you and your life and its direction?

Now that I’ve discovered the real benefits of running, I know I’ll keep at it for as long as I’m able. I have a friend who’s nearing his eightieth birthday and still runs several times a week, including participating in road races. I hope to do the same.

Where can we find you? 
Blog: www.TheOldBroadRuns.com
Twitter: @TheOldBroadRuns

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Good People Run
We love running! With incredible articles, people, events, photography, creativity & running centric news at your fingertips, think of Good People Run™ as your personal & positive concierge for modern running life and culture. Founded by Paul Petch.

About Good People Run

We love running! With incredible articles, people, events, photography, creativity & running centric news at your fingertips, think of Good People Run™ as your personal & positive concierge for modern running life and culture. Founded by Paul Petch.