Archive for Masters Athletes

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. 🙂

The Truth About Staying Young

 

If there's one thing that came through loud and clear from a survey I sent out a few weeks ago to the athletes on our email list, it's that a lot of runners and triathletes are worried about losing fitness and their ability to "play" as they get older. They're worried about injury, too, particularly aging related injury.  Reading some of the responses made me think of that old saying, "Father Time always wins." UGH.

Do these worries ever trickle into your head and keep you up at night?

It doesn't have to be that way. In fact, although Father Time ultmately wins, I believe that we CAN race him toe for toe until the very late stages of our lives. The key is the right kind of approach to training (and a little bit of luck!).

Ask yourself this question: When it comes to your body, what is the ONE thing you've lost (besides your hair!) 🙂 as you've gotten older?

If you're like me and most others, you'll agree it's the ability to move freely and easily without any kind of restriction...just like you used to when you were a kid.

Simply put, what we most lose is mobility. 

The effects of aging (along with piling up the miles) are tighter, shorter, and stiffer muscles, connective tissue, and joints. What used to be SO easy to do, like squatting down to the floor to pick something up, suddenly and exasperatingly becomes much harder.

That tightness and stiffness makes us much more prone to injury, too. Unfortunately, our body and its tissues become like that cracked and dried out elastic band you took out of your junk drawer that broke as soon as you stretched it.

Losing speed? Take the brakes off...

If your goal is to go FASTER, lost mobility really hurts that too! Think about sticking brake pads on your bike's wheel - makes it a lot harder to pedal and slows you down, doesn't it?

While no one can truly beat Father Time, the secret to staying younger and feeling better as you age, is simple. Not necessarily EASY mind you, but it is simple.

The secret is to HOLD ONTO that youthful mobility (if you have it), or if you've lost it, do what's required to get it back!

To that end, today I'm sharing a video with you that I know is going to help. This video shows you a simple movement that you can use to both assess your present level of mobility as well as how to get back on the path to restoring it, if you've lost it.

 

Click on the image to see the video

Click on the image to see the video

We may not be able to literally turn back the clock...but we don't have to act our age either! We can look AND feel younger than ever if we're willing to commit and do what is required.

Do you want that bad enough?

Happy trails!
~Coach Al

PS: I almost forgot: Here are some important TIPS on how to get the most from using this video and practicing this movement.

Start by asking yourself this important question: Where is your primary limiter?

Are you unable to keep your feet completely and totally flat? Are you able to easily keep your chest up and maintain a nice long spine, or are you hunched forward? Are you fairly comfortable, or the reverse -  just plain unhappy down there?  These are the critical questions to ask, for starters....

So what to do next?

Follow my guidance on the video and get started NOW.

Remember what well known strength coach and mentor, Dan John, and others have said: "if it's important, do it every day."

Here are some tips that reinforce what I share on the video:

  • Do these barefooted, or if foot protection is necessary for you for whatever reason, use minimalist shoes that do not raise your heel.
  • If you're unable to get your feet flat or you're unable to sit up straight, use a light weight to "counter" balance. Use the LIGHTEST weight you can get away with. Start with 10 lbs, 20 lbs or 35 lbs.
  • As time goes on, work to reduce the need for the weight. You'll do that by increasing your calf length/ankle mobility, and hip mobility, as well as improving t-spine mobility.
  • You could also place a small book or 2x4 type support under your heels to start off with, if you're unable to achieve good posture without it. Make it your goal to remove the need for it with diligent practice, stretching, and dogged determination!

When you can DEEP SQUAT comfortably and without the aid of any device, you'll see a concurrent improvement in your running comfort, and overall athleticism. You'll feel great!!!

Enjoy, and oh yeah, please send me some pictures of your BEFORE/AFTER progress!!

PSS: If you can do this movement really easily, then mobility isn't YOUR limiter. But stability and strength might be....