Running past forty
As runners approach the masters (vets) category it really becomes essential to listen and stay in tune with their bodies. Keeping a training diary is a great way to monitor telltale signs with such things as niggles, stress, sleep, weight etc. Generally as we age, body fat increases due to metabolic activity slowing down and too many runners carry too much dead weight which increases the risk of injury.
Strength training is often talked about in helping athletes to run better, faster etc and to help reduce the risk of injury. For the veteran runner strength training becomes, or should become, more of a priority in their training because between the ages of 30 and 70 muscle strength and mass tend to decrease by 30-50 percent. Simply put, as we get older we weaken because bundles of muscles and nerves called motor units deteriorate.
Strength training is a great investment in your health, and the muscular system, like a chain, is only as strong as its weakest link. The goal is to build endurance and muscle mass that can absorb shock, protecting the skeleton from overload. A strength programme will help you maintain muscle and will also maintain bone density, which like muscle mass, declines with age.
Also flexibility decreases with age and many veteran runners are running too stiff and spend too little time stretching and again this increases the risk of injury. Collagen and elastin lose their extensibility, becoming more rigid with decreased resilience.
The runner who trains on a menu of ‘only running’ Limits potential and dramatically increases the risk of injury.
Things to do / monitor - make a routine:
3. 2 x strength training (weights) sessions per week - core, glutes, adductors, quads, hamstrings, calf - the focus should be on endurance and pure strength.
4. Dynamic exercises before a running session that focus on balance, strength, stability and coordination - learn to challenge your system/raise the bar.
5. 10 minutes daily flexibility/stretching exercises after training.
6. A variety of running speed/pace throughout a training week - include running/technique drills.
7. A balanced Diet - with plenty of antioxidants, vitamin A, C and E. A balanced diet rich in fruit, vegetables, cereals, nuts, seeds, fish and dairy produce will meet your requirements. Many veteran runners take the supplement Glucosamine to inhibit wear and tear on joints, ligaments, cartilage and connective tissue. Glucosamine is non-toxic and has no known side effects.
8. Regular Massage/Yoga/Pilates.
9. Cross Training.