November 17 2017
Five years after admitting defeat during a high school race, this runner reflects on her eating disorder recovery.
No matter how old you are, or how long you have been running, you can always reinvent yourself as a runner. As an over 40 runner and triathlete I know the transition can be difficult but, with a few simple (and exciting!) changes, you can become a new athlete with each decade.
I certainly do not mean to give up on improving or stop putting 100 percent efforts into your workouts but, be sure your goals and expectations do not exceed your capabilities. Instead of chasing old finish time records, think about setting new and different goals or even goals for every five or 10 years. Your body and mind are changing so be sure to align your goals along with them.
GOOD NEWS: The most substantial declines in pace truly don’t set in until around the age of 75, according to a study by Baker and Yang, et al. And with the right types of supplemental strength and stability training (see below), you can help offset some of the age-related performance drops you might otherwise experience.
In case you’re not focused on strengthening your hips, core and glutes, this is your wake-up call. It’s a fact that masters runners need to engage in some type of strength and stability training to stave off injury, maintain bone health and increase overall power and leg turnover.
Multiple studies have shown that by building glute and hip strength and stability, runners can decrease their likelihood for poor movement, which can lead to injury.
The first time you race a new distance or a completely different type of race, you set an automatic PR. Why not try an ultra to really test your endurance or get out on the trails? Run to just have fun with some friends or finally join your local running group and feed off the renewed energy. Shifting gears in your mind and body can produce unexpected results.
GOOD NEWS: With an abundance of patience and experience from years of running, masters runners often do a better job of pacing in the longer distances than their younger counterparts. In fact, a study by Zingg, Rust, et al., found that master’s runners dominated 24-hour ultra marathons over a 13 year period.
When was the last time you talked to people your same age who are not runners? You should try it so you can be newly amazed at your accomplishments. Hanging out in real life or, virtuality on social media, with nothing but fitness and running peeps can lead to a very misguided sense of what the majority of the population does on a daily basis. I’ll give you a hint: it doesn’t involve 6-10 mile runs!
I can almost guarantee walking away from any conversation or event attended by non-runners with a renewed sense of confidence and appreciation for your daily grind. Getting perspective is an excellent way to boost motivation and remember how extraordinary you are.
On the flipside, you have a wealth of knowledge and experience that can be extremely beneficial to younger runners and newly minted runners of any age. Think of the information you can drop about the importance of well placed anti-chafe gels, pacing, shoe selection, bathroom tips and fueling. The list is endless.