65 to 74

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

De­spite what Lieber­man says about our dis­tant an­ces­tors’ stay­ing power, this is an age where sim­ply lin­ing up at the start of a race is some­thing most of your peers would never at­tempt. But if you’re care­ful and ded­i­cated, it’s still pos­si­ble to be good. One per­son who’s dis­cov­ered this is run­ning coach Mike Reif. ‘I’ve been run­ning for over 55 years and [at 65] got mo­ti­vated be­cause of the new age group,’ he says. He lost weight and be­gan run­ning with the ath­letes he coaches. He also re­mem­bered his youth, when he was on a na­tional cham­pi­onship team. ‘My mind­set went back to that,’ he says. ‘If you can make that tran­si­tion, you can get mo­ti­vated at any age.’

It’s also use­ful to find a club. Reif’s club com­petes in com­pe­ti­tions where mas­ters events can have size­able fields, even in the higher age groups.

Work on your stride length. Study­ing 78 men at the seven-mile mark of a marathon, re­searchers found the stride length of run­ners over 60 was 17 per cent shorter, on av­er­age, than those of 40-49-yearolds. To lengthen your stride, stretch after ev­ery run, con­cen­trat­ing on your ham­strings, calves and lower back. In ad­di­tion, try throw­ing some 10-15sec­ond pick­ups ( bursts of faster run­ning) into your reg­u­lar runs to stretch out your mus­cles.

It’s also in­creas­ingly im­por­tant to pay at­ten­tion to strength train­ing. The av­er­age per­son steadily loses mus­cle mass after the age of 30 – this can mean a de­cline of 30-40 per cent by the age of 70. Just be­cause you’re a run­ner, don’t think you’re im­mune to this fall-off.

It’s worth build­ing some bal­ance and co­or­di­na­tion moves into your rou­tine. Try the ‘flamingo’: stand on one leg for one minute, with a fin­ger on the back of a chair to sta­bilise your­self. Then try it with­out fin­ger sup­port, and fi­nally try it with your eyes closed.

Re­cov­ery and lis­ten­ing to your body is ever more im­por­tant. Joe Kre­gal, a 70-year-old from Port­land, Ore­gon, who can still run a 22:48 5K, mon­i­tors his body’s twinges and re­acts ac­cord­ingly. And he also be­lieves in ac­tive re­cov­ery, like swim­ming and bik­ing.

And most im­por­tant of all, pay no heed to the naysay­ers. ‘Un­less there’s some­thing anatom­i­cally wrong with you, you can get some pretty good speed go­ing,’ says Kre­gal. ‘The prob­lem is that so­ci­ety wants to close you down. Don’t quit when peo­ple tell you to.’

Re­cov­ery and lis­ten­ing to your body be­comes ever more im­por­tant

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