In this post, guest contributor Jennifer Dawson delves into the relationship between age and running.
Should you slow down the way you train during your golden years? According to a study by the Fédération Française d’Athlétisme and Fédération Française de Natation, the average Olympic track athlete reaches their optimal performance by the age of 26. However, it turns out that marathon runners are able to reach their highest level of performance even in their later years. Research from the University of Zurich also found that runners have the ability to reach optimal performance by 37 years of age, which leads us to question, is the fountain of youth hidden within the tracks of ultra-marathons?
Mature athletes like Haile Gebrselassie, Kenenisa Bekele are not the only exceptions to the athletic decline. In fact, hundreds of senior athletes like South African runner, Deidre Larkin continue to excel. Here’s how you can master the power of trail running as you age.
Focus on Building Strength
To maintain your body as you age, counteract the loss of muscle strength. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research reveals the benefits of strength training even in short intervals, can increase their ability to train with fewer risks. With the right power tools and motivation, strength training can make the joints, bones, and muscles more resilient. Not to mention, athletes may even reduce the use of energy by focusing on dynamic movements and emphasizing the use of body weight.
Break Down Intensity of Strategic Training
Athletes of all ages should condition their bodies through easy, low-intensity training. This is especially vital as the athlete ages. According to the University of Agder, elite endurance athletes perform more than 80% of their training at low intensities. As the body adapts to hard stress, it is important to keep the routine brisk enough to challenge the body, yet low enough to avoid compromising your health. Aim for 10 to 20 minutes of intervals with 5-minute breaks between. This will allow mature athletes to build and sustain energy while focusing the stress on one stress per day.
There is no magic pill to help you maintain the same physique you’ve once had in your early 20s. However, these tweaks can help keep your body strong, boost endurance and master the power of running as you age.