As I hit my 50’s with a big bang and ponder on what event I can do to mark this milestone, I can’t help but reflect over the last 10 years of my running life. My 40’s were amazing in terms of achieving running goals, I ran 5 marathons achieving a marathon PB in Paris the second time round (this was my 5th marathon) as well as smashing all my other distance pb’s; I’d been running for ove 10 years when all of this happened.
Race times can improve with age, this could be due to not having any previous training background or experience of how to run faster before you embark on a training programme, it certainly was the case for me, it wasn’t until I completed my coaching qualification that I started to achieve good racing times. Before then I just ran every run at the same pace; you only know what you know.
The good news for all us runners is that running (and all physical exercise) greatly redues the rate of the aging process, being inactive, not aging, causes us to rust and slow down. It is never too late to turn running into a fountain of youth, an inactive 60 year old who begins running can attain the same aeroic fitness level of a in anactive 40 year…..pass me the trainers and get me signed up!
Yes as we get older the capabilites of our heart, lungs and muscles slow down and limit our running performance but the good news is that taking up or continuing to run can slow the slowing down. Aerobic capacity decreases by about 10% per decade in someone who is sedentary but if you continue to train regularly and vigorously this decline can be reduced to 5% per decade.
Eventually though we do all slow down but you can limit the decline if you are willing to train hard by keeping up with the quality training sessions and not focus too much on quantity mileage. Age does effect the muscle fibers and it is more difficult to maintain speed as the fast twitch muscle fibers are the first to go. However speed training, racing regularly and weight training can help minimise the loss and help maintain agility, balance and co-orrdination, the fundamental basics that we all need to keep up running strong.
So here is my advice to myself as I enter my next decade of running and racing;
Rest more and have easier days, enjoy the chit chat runs but keep up the speed and hill work
Increase recovery time after a hard session (so don’t go to speed one night and follow it with hills the next day!)
Cross training by doing more spinning as this is non-weight bearing aerobic exercise
Strength train keep doing the bicep curls
Keep flexible continue with the downward dogs and Yoga
Eat well as you age the body is less forgiving if you binge out so make sure most of your calories are nutritious
My attitude has been adjusted, yes it is hard to keep being enthusiastice and the desire burning as you realise that you may never reach the dizzing heights of your younger selfs times but train smart, wipe the slate clean and count your blessings about being healthy and happy to still being able to run.