If you have ever wondered why I am running slow all of a sudden, let’s begin with a brutal fact. Ultimately, we all get slower; if this were not true, we would have people in their 80s winning Olympic gold medals.
However, some types of slowing down as a runner can be stopped and reversed, and this type of slowing down I see as a running coach can be reversed relatively quickly with the right running plan and lifestyle changes.
Why Am I Getting Slower As I Get Older?
As you age, people get slower; however, this process is often accelerated by controllable factors outlined in this post.
The harsh fact is as you age, your muscle strength will decline, and with that, the power to reach your desired pace…
Some of this is unavoidable.
However, though you can’t beat grandfather time, you can slow it down.
Lack Of Strength Training Will Slow You Down As You Age.
As we age, our strength naturally diminishes; however, strength training slows the decline in many cases.
This matters for runners because declining strength means declining power, and reducing power will ultimately tell you to move slower as a runner.
Plus, declining strength leaves you more vulnerable to injury, which reduces time out running and can mean that you get slower.
So What Type Of Strength Training Should You Do?
First and foremost, the strength training you do has to meet you where you presently are physically.
The bottom line is whatever type of strength training you do should
Reduce Injury risk by strengthening areas that runners can be commonly weak in, such as their glutes
That it works the whole body and are not done in isolation but are compound exercises
For most runners, the most significant benefit of strength training is reducing running injuries.
Anybody can do strength training yes, for example, if you have never done any strength training, it’s doubtful you should want to get into weights straight away; however, using a resistance band can be an effective way to build strength up and reduce the risk of overload and injury.
You don’t have to go crazy. Just a targetted workout for 10-20 mins 3 times a week can make a massive difference to a runner with little or no strength training; this is especially true for older runners.
Also, the type of movements is essential. I find activities such as the …
All of the above are great. All can be done with weight or without, so the movements can grow with you as your strength increases.
Remember Your Upper Body Too.
Working the upper body is essential, too; I am a great fan of kettlebell swings. Plus, workouts using resistance bands help develop more substantial arm swing when running, allowing forward propulsion and getting you running faster.
Not Adapting Nutrion Can Slow Your Running Down
Nutrition is a vast area. It’s also an area where people literally can fall out when they’re discussing nutrition. So what I’m going to say here is relatively broad.
If you are an older runner, you probably have eating habits that you’ve had since you were pretty young. The issue was when you were younger; your body could adapt much more quickly to what you were eating. You often hear people saying; when I was 25, or 35, I could eat anything. The reason for that is your body’s system; was more efficient at adapting as you get older, your body isn’t so efficient. So you have to be more aware of what goes into your body on several levels.
Level one, you’ve got to be aware of what goes in your body from a basis of weight gain. A lot of people run to lose weight. However, if the amount of running does not exceed the amount of eating they do, they often get somewhat disappointed that they’re running quite a bit, but they are still gaining weight.
So you have to find a way of eating that is sustainable. That does not mean that you eat more than you need. This is not about going on some long term diet that makes you miserable. But you’ve just got to look quite simply at the calories you consume and the calories you use, either running, walking or working and make sure that you’ve got some calorie deficit. That way, you are more likely to maintain or lose weight rather than gain weight, which is what most people do as they get older.
The next area you’ve got to look at with your nutrition is aiding your
So what sort of food should you eat? Well, let’s start with what you shouldn’t overeat, which is highly processed foods. We can only do these now and again. I love pizza. However, I try and introduce more real food into my diet,
- More greens,
- More fruit,
- More whole grains.
Now, anything I say can be contradicted by some other new diet. That’s out this week or next week. And I’m sure you can find almost any evidence to back up whatever belief you have around food.
All I would ask you is what you are presently eating regularly. Is it supporting your weight goals? And also, is it helping your
Because I call what we eat plate wars, and I mean by that is…
What is winning the war on your plate.?
When you look at your food, be your breakfast, lunch, snacks, or evening meals.
What is winning the war on the plate? Is it highly processed junk food? Or is there a good mix of high-quality meat if that’s what you eat? Vegetables, fruit, nuts, natural foods versus highly processed foods. The more processed the foods you eat. I can guarantee you the slower your recovery will be in respect of your running.
And as an older runner,
Lack Of Sleep Can make You A Slower Runner.
I think sleep is so underestimated in so many ways for runners, and yet again, so underestimated for older runners. Now, it’s true that as we get older, particularly female runners, sleep can be interrupted by hormonal issues, such as menopause. And I think even a lot of men sleep can be interrupted by hormonal issues. This goes way beyond the remit of this particular article. Still, I wanted to mention it because obviously, I understand this does occur and become a significant issue for many runners.
However, there is another layer of people who aren’t getting enough sleep based on the type of habits they formed around rest. We live in a world where we have the light available to us 24/7. We have entertainment 24/7, And that means that we can be up longer or awake longer and stimulated for longer with things such as iPhones and iPads.
I think some excellent sleep hygiene where we have a regular sleep pattern, where we go to bed at a particular time and rise at a specific time and try and reduce the amount of stimulation before we go to bed and getting a good eight hours a night sleep where possible, increases the chances of quicker
So I don’t think sleep can be underestimated. It’s pretty astounding when I’m coaching how many of my runners struggling with their running are also working with their rest.
And I think that also leads to my next point, which is stress control.
Not Controlling Stress Impacts How Fast We Run.
I think stress has probably more impact on the runner’s I coach than any other factor that seems to come up, especially when you consider how stress is interconnected with almost many other factors.
So, for instance, people quite often overeat when they are stressed. They quite often have sleeping issues when they are stressed. So, stress is really at the root of so many things that if we could control our stress more effectively and lead less stressful lives, our running would improve in incredible amounts from a running perspective.
But why would our running improve because of less stress?
Well, because I think, paradoxically, when we feel stressed, we don’t tend to go out for as many runs. Now, I say paradoxically because when most people run, they feel a reduction in stress and an increase in feel-good hormones. However, for that to have to happen. We have to get out the door and run. When we are feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Quite often, it’s much easier to sit in a chair, watch Netflix, and not get out for that run.
So stress has a huge impact. I don’t think there is anyone way to control pressure. But I think one fundamental way is to acknowledge that we are all under some degree of stress. And quite often, that stress involves another person, so one of the critical areas that we can control stress in our lives is to start being aware that we have to be careful who we let into our lives and how much we let them into our lives.
If someone is of the type of person, that will create more stress in your life, and you have the option to have them either in your life or not in your life. Then reducing the amount of time you spend with that person will decrease the levels of stress that you experience.
Because nearly everybody you speak to, at the core of most people’s stress is a person, which might seem very negative and almost anti-people. Still, they’re also people who are one of the most significant sources of our joy and pleasure. However, it is also true that our stress levels are often heightened when we contact specific people in certain situations. And reducing that contact can have a decrease in our stress levels.
So really, in truthfully, learning how to effectively deal with other people and also effectively deal with ourselves in that we have to learn to be able to say no when it is appropriate for us because I think a lot of people stress pretty often related to doing things that they don’t want to do but feel that they’re being rude or ungracious by saying no to another person.
Does Running Slow Make You Faster.
Does running slow make you faster? Well, the rather unhelpful reply to that question is yes and no.
So let me clarify myself. When you run slower for a consistent amount of time, you’re building up the foundations for endurance.
Quite often, when I train runners, they are doing their easy runs too fast. And too hard. This means that they aren’t getting the adaptations for their endurance but are heightening the risk of injury.
Whereas if you do 80% of your runs at a steady pace, what I would call zone one or zone two pace so that the run feels slow to you to hold a conversation while running.
Then ultimately, laying those foundations with those slow runs will help you become a faster runner.
However, it is often interpreted that runners, particularly older runners, should make all their runs slow. Now, this is something I can’t entirely agree with. Yes, if you’re new to running, and your body isn’t adapted to doing high-intensity training, then it makes absolute sense to lay down the foundations with slow, steady runs that you’re in control of, and your body can adapt to.
But after a certain amount of time, just running slow won’t make you faster on its own. Implement a couple of speed sessions into your training per week. Combined with 80% of your runs, being of a slower, more effortless nature is more than likely to deliver the results of you getting faster while at the same time building endurance and reducing the risk of unnecessary injury.
Why Does Running Slow Hurt Sometimes.
Many runners feel that it’s odd that it hurts more when they’re running slower than when they’re running more quickly.
But, when you stop analysing it and looking at it, it isn’t that odd. When you’re running more slowly, you’re more than likely going to be running for longer. So you are, in effect, building up your endurance, which is creating a situation where it’s a high level of aerobic activity. You may also be your running gait may be different when running more slowly and steady than when you are running faster.
So it’s more time on your feet. And this is the, as I’ve said earlier, absolute foundation of endurance running. Still, many runners are very surprised that they are initially more uncomfortable when they start doing slow, steady runs. Then when they’re doing faster ones.
But I feel that it’s pretty logical that at the end of the day, if you are putting more steady stress on your body over a longer time, then you are going to experience some discomfort, perhaps initially, until your body adapts.