We all wonder, what is going to happen to my running as I age? Will I get slower? I think most people assume you will get slower as you age, which is probably a good assumption, but how much do we slow?
A huge study done in 2010, showed for each year over the age of 40 a runner slows only by 0.2%. That works out to be about one second per mile per year. This continues up to the age of 60. Here’s the interesting news, after 60 years of age men’s advantage over women hits the wall. Men’s performance begins to take a pretty steep nose dive (sorry guys).
For highly trained runners, the loss in muscular strength and oxygen uptake goes down at a much slower rate than for moderately or untrained runners. Running economy (how efficiently you burn energy as you run) remains consistent up until age sixty.
The impact to your running is higher the longer the distance is that you run. While at the 10k and half marathon you only lose one to two seconds per mile after the age of 40, at the marathon distance it works out to be four to five seconds per mile.
The general advice for runners over the age of forty is to not focus on the high miles. Adjust your miles so you are able to bring in more strength training and stretching. Making those changes to your training program will guard you against the effects of aging.
Cut out those low mile rest days and replace them with some yoga and either body weight strength training or light weight training. Maintain your high quality runs such as speed work, race pace, and long runs.
As always never increase your miles by more than ten percent a week, and you may want to lower it to 5-7 percent as you pass fifty five. Also make sure an incorporate a rest week every fourth week of training by dropping your miles by twenty-five to thirty percent for the week.
Running forever is the goal.