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Running After 50: Can You Still Get Faster, Or Is Your Peak Behind You?

    As you get older, you may feel that the days of getting faster or more consistent are behind you. 

    But the truth is, age is a reality – but what matters is what you do with that reality. You may not be able to hit the same peak performance as you did in your 30s, but this doesn’t mean you can’t reach new heights. 

    Remember, there are many peaks – some may be smaller than what you’ve experienced before, but they are still peaks. 

    Additionally, there may be bigger mountains that you can still climb if you set your sights high and apply a different strategy for your training as you age. 

    Don’t be tricked by society’s notions of what it means to get older – you can still set and achieve goals, no matter your age. 

    52 And Going Nowhere

    Seven years ago, I had a life-changing moment that changed how I think about my opportunities and abilities in my 50s as a runner. 

    I was cutting a friend’s hair in my salon, and he was a fellow runner, 20 years my junior. 

    He asked me, “Lee, what was your peak as a runner?” 

    I was taken aback and told him about some runs I did in my 30s, but when he left, it set me thinking. I was annoyed that my peak might have already been reached, 

    So I changed my attitude from the point of view that my best was behind me to a “What if” perspective. 

    What if I changed how I trained? 

    What if I changed how I slept? 

    What were the peaks and boundaries that I was being told about through media and social media that weren’t accurate or true? 

    10,000 Hours Of Experience: But Is it Used Correctly As You Age?

    “The 10,000-Hour Rule is not a guarantee of success. It’s just a description of what is required to be successful.”

    Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule from his book Outliers states that it takes 10,000 hours to become proficient at a skill. 

    This is excellent news for older runners, who can use the many skill sets they’ve acquired throughout their lives and running experience to continue to improve as a runner. 

    But mastering the skill is only the first step. As we age, it is crucial to apply those skills correctly. This can be compared to the famous quote by comedian Eric Morecambe, who said, “I’m playing all the right notes, but not particularly in the right order.” 

    This analogy can be used to describe many older runners’ approaches to training and lifestyle; they’re doing many of the right things but need to make sure they’re doing them at the right volume and intensity and at the right time.

    Dont Over Complicate Your Training As You Age.

    The discussion surrounding the type of training you should do can be overwhelming. People talk about periodization pyramids, zones 1-5, and other constructs that can seem almost mystical. 

    But the principles remain the same: to improve your running, and to improve your running as you get older, you need to “embarrass your body into change.” This means providing the proper stimulation and recovery for your body to adapt. 

    For older runners, this is especially important. You may have heard of 80/20 training, but a more straightforward approach is to consider your life as a whole. This means looking beyond just the running and considering aspects such as your diet and alcohol consumption. If your life outside of running is relatively sedentary, it may be time to make some changes to help you improve your running.

    When it comes to running, it’s not just about the time you dedicate to running but also the lifestyle you lead outside of it. For example, if you spend 90% of your life not running, you will need more than all of your efforts in the remaining 10% to make a huge difference.

     Looking at the bigger picture and assessing how your lifestyle contributes to your running is essential. 

    From a training perspective, it’s important to understand that you will need to apply specific workouts at certain intensities and times to achieve your goals. 

    Easy/Long Runs

    Easy runs are essential for building a solid aerobic base, but every runner is unique, and what works for one person may be less effective for another. This is because building a solid aerobic base takes time and patience. 

    However, the effort is worth it, as it will pay off in the long run. With patience and dedication, runners can reap the rewards of improved endurance and faster gains.

    Running At Higher Intensity

    Furthermore, running at higher intensities will not only help stimulate your speed but also make your body more efficient. Many older runners may be hesitant to try speed work due to the fear of injury, but the key is in the correct dosage and duration of the speed work. 

    With careful consideration and proper training, older runners can safely reap the benefits of higher intensities and speed work.

    Recovery And Lifestyle

    Running is important, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle. With careful consideration and tailoring of your lifestyle to suit your running goals, you can achieve your best results.

    Make sure your running plan has recovery days in it; this is the point you give your body the time to make the changes (adaptations) from the stress of the workout.


    Get Uncomfortable-Build Your Inner Game Of Running

    As we age, it’s understandable that comfort becomes more important to us. We’ve worked hard much of our life, and it seems natural that life should get easier. But be aware that comfort comes with downsides. 

    Running is as much an inner game of mental resolve as physical activity, and both realms are connected.

    So, it can be helpful to put some discomfort into your daily life. This could be small, like getting up 10 minutes earlier than you planned or having a 30-second cold shower. These little difficulties, or ‘one percenters’, can help to push you mentally beyond what’s comfortable. 

    It’s also important to consider how comfortable you are day-to-day. Are you constantly sitting down? Do you spend most of your time sedentary? This could impact your running and how willing and able you are to be adaptable, a key element for any endurance runner.

    Remember, the human brain is always looking for the easiest route. 

    Our brains are programmed to take the path of least resistance – something that has served us well from an evolutionary point of view. However, the trouble is that when we get too comfortable, we stop challenging ourselves and reaching our full potential.

    Well, that’s it…

    Remember to take the time to enjoy your running; it’s not just about getting faster and improving your times, but about your overall health and well-being, reducing stress, and creating lasting friendships.

     Make the most of your running journey and have some fun along the way!

    Are You A 45 Plus Endurance Runner That Wants To Improve Their Running?

    Then Read On…
    Do you Want To Lose That Nagging Uncertainty Of Wondering If Your Generic Running Plan Will Deliver The Results You Want?
    And Instead Replace It With Certainty, Consistency And Confidence That Deliver Improved Race Day Results?

    Here Is How I Can Help You With Your Running When You’re Ready.