9 ways to keep running as you age

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1. Mix up your training

If you avoid aspects of training because you think you’re too old, you’ll run old. If you stop doing speed work you’ll get slower, and if you stop doing long runs you’ll struggle with longer distances. Also, consider track training to maintain dynamic running ability, but always listen to what your body tells you.

2. Prioritise recovery

As you get older you may need longer to recover from hard sessions, so build this into your schedule. I find it’s often a difficult balance, as I have to train hard to be competitive. I’m also now a busy parent, so I often struggle to get enough rest. I cope by prioritising the most important units of my training. If I’m struggling to get myself right for a track session, I’ll do an unmeasured session. This keeps the intensity of the training going and helps me deal with both my age and the demands on my time.

3. Use experience

Age can be an advantage if you use your experience wisely. Over the years I’ve amassed knowledge about what works for me, enabling me to make more informed choices on all aspects of my running. I know which sessions have led to my best performances and the best taper to get me race ready.

My coach and I are always modifying my training based on the years of experience we’ve gained. I suffered much more with injury when I was younger, as I had less ability to listen to my body. Also, I’ve had so many injuries that I’ve worked out how best to deal with each one.

4. Save your strength

Muscle mass declines with age, so I combat this with conditioning work. However, as heavy gym sessions affect my ability to perform in important running sessions, I don’t do too much. I concentrate on core work and functional exercises, using my own body weight or, sometimes, light dumbbells.

5. Stretch it out

Flexibility decreases as you age, resulting in reduced range of motion. This affects speed, as you can’t move as efficiently, and also increases your injury risk. I certainly have more of a tendency to tighten up now, so I’m very diligent about stretching – before and after runs and also in the late evening.

6. Book a massage

I find regular massage very important. It targets tight areas and prevents injury.

7. Eat well

Eat a varied, nutritious diet rich in protein, carbs, fruit and veg. Ensure you eat enough, too. Unhealthily restrict your calorie intake and your body cannot sustain a long running career.

8. Go soft

I make an effort to do the majority of my mileage on good trails to protect my joints. Grass is sometimes the right choice, but it has to be a good surface – otherwise the excessive movement can cause undue stresses and injury.

9. Stay motivated

Keep entering races so you always have goals. If you feel your fastest times are behind you, think about setting yourself a new set of PBs for your new age group. I feel a bit like I’m doing that now!