Master's Running

When it comes to aging and running, we are often told that it is nearly impossible to improve after you turn 40. But, how can so many older men (some in their 90's) be doing so well and breaking age group records? The answer lies in the training they do and how they do it.

Most runners hit their peak in their 20’s and are able to stay near their "best" until their late 30’s. Beyond the late thirty's, an inevitable decline occurs. Whether the decline is dramatic or subtle is up to you.

In order to maintain your running fitness, you must train intelligently. Listed below are some master's training tips that will enable you to run efficiently, effectively, and with more fluidity well beyond your forty's:

  • Make a Plan - Starting Out is the hardest point, but it needs to be done smartly. If you are a beginner or haven’t trained in a while, you need to start with a mix of walking and jogging. Your goal after one month is to be able to do two miles while walking/jogging.
  • Stay in Shape - You’ll need to stay fit and stay in the game. If don't, you will need to start all over. Staying fit means maintaining a solid running fitness while you are training. You’ll also need to keep up your training throughout the year to avoid falling back. If you do stop for even a few weeks, you’ll need to retrain two days for every day that you didn’t train.
  • Recover - Recovery times will also be different in master's running training. You’ll need more time to recover. The best course of action is to allow your body to train when it’s ready which may be two to three days of recovery instead of the one that you were accustomed to in the past.
  • Run Long - You will need to have long run days. You’ll need at least one hard workout day. This should be 80-90% of your maximum effort. At least one day per week, plan on running longer than one hour.
  • Resistance/Cross Train - Build up your strength. While it is true that as you age, your strength decreases, it is also true that you can weight train in order to build your strength. All you need is a few 30 minute sessions a week. Do both upper and lower body workouts.
  • Let Competition Help You - Racing and training with/against others will give you motivation and keep pushing you in the right direction!

When you combine these efforts, you will find that there are three important things to remember. One, you need to space out your workouts. One day on, one day off. Two, think minutes instead of miles. And, three plan time at the gym for strength training. Combining these three, you'll find that even as a master runner you can succeed.


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