There is an inevitable slow down that occurs with an aging runner. Many runners want to know how to slow this process. Here are my recommendations!
1) Lift Heavy. After age 35, we start to lose muscle mass with the most significant loss occurring after age 50. Once it’s gone, it’s not coming back. I was drinking the lift heavy kool-aid before Stacy Sim’s book, Roar, was published but I recommend her book if you want to read more about this topic.
2) Lift Light. You know those 5-10 pound weights you have kicking around? They are effective too — work up to 4 sets of 25 (or until you feel fatigued — that’s the most important detail) with not more than 30 seconds between sets. The short rest period prevents blood from fully returning to the muscle. This option is much safer for the older or injured population and those new to lifting. (Thanks Human Locomotion for this information). I want to mention blood flow restriction under the lift light category but this technique is best incorporated with help from a professional.
3) The foot, ankle, and calf. Research shows runners slow down not because of hip weakness but because of declining strength in the foot, ankle and calf. Work on toe flexor strength and below the knee strength using the ToePro strengthening platform. This platform effectively strengthens all muscles below the knee in under ten minutes and will help you hit your goal times on the roads! (Again, thanks Human Locomotion for this info).
4) Practice plyometrics and dynamic warm up drills. Fast runners plantarflex their ankles more quickly than slow runners. The end result is less time on the ground and more efficient/faster running. This is true for runners at any age.
5) Run-Strength training. Replace some of your run volume with strength volume. Yesterday, I turned a 45 min run into a 70 min run by stopping every six minutes for sets of strength movements and finishing with a long farmer’s carry.
6) Volume. Similar to 6, forget mileage and think about volume. Maybe you like running 50 miles per week and that takes you a total of 7 hours. Commit to 7 hours of diverse training instead: break it down into time and spend some time running, some time biking and some time throwing your weights around. This all counts towards training!
One thought on “How to avoid slowing down as a master’s runner.”
Such great advice and information. I have been a physical therapist for 27 years and a runner for 40 years- since our kids are now teens and young adults I have been having fun making new goals and training more seriously again beginning this past year. I love working with runners and athletes from teens to 80 year olds (or beyond!) and think your advice here is so accurate. Thank you!! Tammy Davenport (live in Bay Area, California)