"Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter." - Mark Twain
Running is one of the best ways to improve your overall physical fitness, balance, and muscle tone as you age. It is also one of the easiest ways to get injured. A fellow blogger that I follow recently posted: “Running is what I do in between injuries”.
You are never to old to start or continue a running program. In order to run safely and prevent injuries, you need to understand your physical capacities. As you age your muscle fibers shrink in number and size this is called atrophy. Muscles also become less sensitive to nerve impulses. This may result in decreases to cardiovascular endurance, strength, balance, and coordination. Most athletes start to see some decline by age 40, but the decline depends on more than just age alone. Other factors include genetics, diet, lifestyle, and physical activity levels. Research shows that much of the age-related loss of fitness is actually due to inactivity than age alone.
From the Country Music Marathon in 2011Older runners who train harder and longer, often wind up with injuries. In the past I have made the mistake of pushing longer, harder, and not listening to my body. I ended up limping into a doctor’s office, going to physical therapy, and taking pain pills.
Here are some training tips for running over 40:
- Slowly increase time and intensity. Ramp up your training more gradually then when you were younger.
- For older runners, it is important to stay motivated. I find that having to train for a race keeps me motivated.
- Do not forget to listen to your body. If you notice any pain in your joints, stop and walk.
- Give your body plenty of time for rest and recovery. You may even find it necessary to take two days to completely recover.
- Add one high intensity interval per week.
- Include one or two days of weight training a week.
- Balance training exercises can help you stay agile and prevent injury.
- It is important to drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated.
- Try to train on smooth and forgiving surfaces, to avoid falls and twisted ankles.
- Try tracking your workouts in minutes instead of mileage. Include your minutes of cross training such as weight training.
- Take advantage of your experience and you will not have to train as long or hard, if you run smarter, not harder.
One of my favorite souvenirs from a marathon