Sunday, February 24, 2013

Facing Reality

If you read the running mags,particularly ones from years past,you undoubtedly would have read profiles on runners who were standouts in their age groups. Something I noticed repeatedly were the stories about masters runners(40 years+)all had a similar element to them. It went like this; former excellent high school or college distance runner returns to competition after many years of not running and begins to have alot of success at road racing. I recall being surprised as I read these profiles at the workouts the runners did. They were intense,heavy on the intervals,not unlike what you would see your average college coach giving his charges.There was also something else I noted,the majority of these runners would make an impact on the national scene for a year or two only to drop out of sight.On occasion I would read an update on one of them and find that they had been hampered by injuries.I think you know where I'm going with this.There is a necessity for competitive distance runners to make accomodations to the aging process.I am always amazed at the runners who seem oblivious to this fact or are unwilling to make adjustments as needed.
I mean,isn't it a physiological fact that as we age changes occur in our body?
I have found,and it varies from runner to runner,that there is an age where you notice a drop off in your ability to recover from tough runs and workouts.For me, I think it was around age 44 or 45.
Now,at 63,I have reluctantly come  to the conclusion that when I take a day off a few times a week I feel fresher coming back after an off day.Yeah,I could, and have run easy on the days that are now my days off but my legs don't ever feel as fresh as they do when I'm coming back after a rest day.In fact,the quality of that run is always good whether I'm going long or doing something like a fartlek.There is a misguided machismo that exists in distance runners which implies that to back off,take a day off or ease up means you are a wimp. It's no surprise that this thought exists among master's runners as well. That's unfortunate because no matter what you do,time stops for no one.
There are simple adjustments everyone can make and still perform well. A big one is changing the aerobic and anaerobic percentage in your training.As you age it is best to do alot more aerobic work and less severe anaerobic training.Those who dismiss this should read info by Dr Ernst Van Aaken,Jack Foster and Ed Whitlock for starters.
Another adjustment to consider is finding alternate workouts you can do on certain days.They must however be ones that won't physically exhaust your body.I say this because if you do an alternate workout you want to come back fresh the next day.If you hammered 50 miles on the bike, then what kind of rest is that?
I personally use certain days to rest,I may do a walk or lift weights but they feel like rest days to me.There is another thing I also do,if I want to be competitive and since I am not running as much as I once did,I don't eat and drink whatever I want.If you are not particularly active,stop eating like you are.
As often is the case,ego plays a large role in using common sense when considering the aging process and being competitive.I guess you could throw a little ignorance,anxiety and denial into the pot as well.
But again,the enduring and successful runner,and by successful I'm referring to it subjectively;the enduring and successful runner is one who uses his head.He considers and thinks things through.

1 comment:

  1. The great master's runner Jack Foster is in the pix above,can you see him?