35 to 44

Runner's World (UK) - - Coach/ training -

In­juries can be more fre­quent and will take longer to heal

It’s tempt­ing to deny that age has any ef­fect at the lower end of the mas­ters range. After all, Jo Pavey (see page 76 for her tips) won the Euro­pean 10,000m ti­tle at the age of 40, while US marathoner Meb Ke­flezighi’s PB win at Bos­ton came only weeks be­fore his 39th birth­day. Sim­i­larly, the two old­est Olympic marathon gold medal­lists, Car­los Lopes (1984) and Con­stantina Dita (2008), were both 38 at the time of their wins. But we should con­sider th­ese re­sults as out­liers, rather than the norm.

Some spend their early mas­ters ca­reer be­moan­ing ev­ery race as a new per­sonal worst. Oth­ers em­brace it, count­ing the days un­til their 40th birth­day, when they have a chance to set records in a new cat­e­gory. Amy Be­g­ley, who was a 2008 Olympian in the 10,000m and is now a run­ning coach, says ev­ery ath­lete has to deal with change. ‘There was a high point and now they have to re­set the goals,’ she says. Her hus­band, An­drew, also a coach, faced sim­i­lar is­sues ear­lier than most, when a knee in­jury in his 20s took him out of elite com­pe­ti­tion. ‘My ad­vice is to learn to race against your­self,’ he says.

One way to mea­sure that per­sonal com­pe­ti­tion is by us­ing pre­dic­tor work­outs, then try­ing to beat the pre­dic­tion. An­drew Be­g­ley used the Mile Down work­out, start­ing with 1600m, then work­ing down: 1200-800-600-400300-200m. ‘ When you add up all of the times for this work­out, I could run within 20-30 sec­onds of that for a 5K race,’ he says. ‘So when I got into the race, I was try­ing to run a lit­tle faster than pre­dicted. If I could look my­self in the mir­ror after my race and tell my­self that I worked hard and didn’t quit, it was a vic­tory.’

In terms of train­ing, the changes at this early stage in mas­ters run­ning are rel­a­tively mi­nor. Re­alise that in­juries can be more fre­quent and will take longer to heal. ‘Ex­tra re­cov­ery time needs to be built in,’ says Amy Be­g­ley. ‘You may wind up do­ing more cross-train­ing.’ And women, in par­tic­u­lar, need to be aware of the risk of de­clin­ing bone mass. ‘I en­cour­age lift­ing ex­er­cises to main­tain den­sity in the up­per body and spine,’ she says.

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