Masters Runners: FOUR Tips to help you go faster as you get older

If you're a Masters age runner or triathlete who is in your 40s, 50s, or beyond, and willing to admit you're aging a little bit, you might acknowledge your fastest running days may be behind you, but....that doesn't mean you don't want to still run as fast as you can for as long as you can.  

Am I right? 🙂

In an earlier blog post, I shared a specific track workout designed to sky-rocket run fitness by improving your body's ability to both utilize and clear lactate from the bloodstream. (After recovery of course).

Today I'd like to continue sharing a few more recommendations gleaned from many years of experience and study, and some trial and error, too. (And a boatload of mistakes!) 🙂

In future posts, I'll share even more details about some of the workouts I'm doing and programming for my Master's athletes. Think of it as an overview of one of a few possible ways to approach trying to get faster (or to not slow down as much) as you age. 🙂

You with me?

Great, let's get to it.  Here's some general run training guidelines for "older" runners...

  • Consistent, short, faster-than-5k pace segments during the course of your training week are essential. If you don't use it, you lose it (leg speed as an example). Lock in on these two things routinely: 1. Be consistent.  2. Include faster-than-5k pace segments.
  • Total run volume is secondary to everything else. And I mean everything. How many miles you actually run has nothing to do with fitness. And nothing will hurt your run fitness and speed more than slow miles, for the sake of volume.
  • Work on technique as much or more than you ever have before. By "technique," I mean doing a regular dose of drill work and considering elements such as knee drive/elbow drive, posture, turnover/stride rate, sweep (the distance between maximal shin angle and shin angle at touchdown), and footstrike to name a few.  Formwork is awesome for optimizing coordination, skill, and general running/training "rhythm," especially at a time in your life/training when those things can tend to worsen.
  • When doing "quality" workouts that might include 400s or 800s, plan on fewer reps than you might have done in the past when you were younger, but keep rest intervals short. A good rule of thumb for segments at or faster than 5k pace is a 2 to 1, work-to-rest ratio. For example, if a work interval takes you 3 minutes, plan on a 1.5-minute rest interval. (You're NOT showing weakness or an unwillingness to train hard by making compromises, you're demonstrating training smarts!)
  • During the course of your training week, minimize the amount of time (miles) you spend running slowly. Yes, you need an easy gradual warm-up and cool-down and you also need to occasionally "just run" easy for running's sake. But to keep or even improve your ability to run fast(er), "quality" running speeds need to occupy a greater overall percentage of your total run miles than they might have in the past.
  • Other than quality running at 5k or faster speeds, recovery between sessions is your most important priority. And it will likely take longer than you think. 🙂  If your fitness is lower, you will need more easy (or total rest) days between harder efforts. As your fitness improves, you will gain the ability to get in more quality sessions. The biggest takeaway? Where you might have fit in 3 or 4 quality run days in a 7-day training week in the past, now it may take you 10 days to fit in the same percentage of quality training. And that's ok!
  • More than ever before, focus on differentiating speed and intensity daily.  Make sure easy is just that, easy! And conversely, work hard and go much faster on any quality segments or workouts you do. Differentiate daily!
  • And finally as a general rule, err on the side of caution and do ONE LESS REP than you might be able to do.  As a Master's age runner, your primary goal is to "stay in the fight" for the long haul, so to speak. The surest way to accomplish that is to finish each session knowing you could have done more. Here's a tip: as soon as you see your speed drop off on a stride or repetition, take that as a signal to shut it down and return to easy running. Survive to fight another day. Consistency rules.

That's it for now.

To your success,
Al

PS: If you're not following me on Instagram, pursuitathlete is my IG handle. I plan on continuing to share more cool training ideas and concepts in the future.

PSS: If you believe this post has been helpful and you'd be interested in hearing from me on a more regular basis via email, you can CLICK HERE to subscribe to my email newsletter. I hope you've considered the time it took you to read this as time well spent. 🙂

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