Kregal’s advice to fellow 70-yearolds applies double to the age divisions above him. For about two decades, beginning in the late 1980s, John Keston (now 90) was the dominant runner among his peers, setting age-group records in a range of distances. In his 70s he trained fairly traditionally, but as he approached 80, he found that rest had become so important that he shifted to a three-day workout rotation, running one day (up to 16 miles), then walking six miles on each of the next two days. ‘I also raced a lot, using the races as my speedwork,’ he says.
Running only every third day was a radical change from his prior training formula. But it worked, so well, in fact, that at 80 he set world bests for the mile, the 3000m and the half marathon.
Running coach Jeff Galloway recommends breaking up workouts into segments. Instead of running for 30 minutes, for example, do three 10-minute runs, with a five-minute easy walk between segments.
If injury hasn’t already forced you to try pool running, do it now. With no impact on your joints and offering the aerobic benefits of running, striding through the water at least once a week will help stave off injuries.
Marv Metzer, 87, still manages a 3:26 half marathon. Not fast, but it’s the equivalent of a 30-yearold’s 1:43. At his age, he says, training becomes more and more like work, and it gets increasingly difficult to stay in shape. You also have to get used to the fact that you’re slower than you’d like to be. On a recent training run, he says, he noticed his shadow and ‘it looked like I was walking’. He’s also had to reduce his racing ( because otherwise he’d spend all of his time recovering) and cut back on his training. ‘I’m only doing about 15 miles a week these days,’ he says. ‘A few years ago I did 60.’ But he plans to keep going, even if he eventually winds up walking. ‘Unless something serious happens, I’m still going to be out there moving,’ he says.
Reif echoes the same sentiment. ‘Use it or lose it,’ he says. ‘It’s very important to stay active and healthy. I am very motivated to live a healthy lifestyle for the rest of my life.’ And from a much younger masters’ perspective, Cotner notes that as you reach each new age group, everything readjusts. ‘But that’s what masters running is,’ he says. ‘ You’re reinventing yourself every season. We wipe the slate clean and start again.’
You have to get used to the fact you’re slower than you’d like to be