How To Outrun Aging
YOU BECOME MORE LIKELY TO INJURE YOURSELF AS YOU AGE. BUT THERE’S NO REASON YOU CAN’T GET OLDER AND RUN PAIN-FREE.
Age means more injury and pain. But it doesn’t have to.
WHEN I TORE my medial meniscus in my 30s, there was a chance I might never run like I had – freely, whenever I wanted, for as long as I wanted, on any terrain, at any intensity.
I set a goal: instead of surgery, I would rehab my knee so I could still run with excellence – and with my two young sons. I set up an appointment with a physical therapist who specialises in working with runners. I did everything he asked, and I learned a lot on my own, too – not just about my knee and my body, but also about how to train as I aged. These lessons are universal, and they benefit anyone who wants to run freely without pain for as long as possible.
Here are three key lessons I’ve learned about running as you get older.
Swop long runs for shorter, intense sessions that include sprints. Intervals are good for your heart, training it to pump at its max and then recover quickly. They also target the highly metabolic fast-twitch muscle fibres. To run off body fat, interval sprints in any form are the way to go.
Aging can make just about anyone wish they had a personal massage therapist, but a ball and a foam roller can get the job done – for a lot less. These self-massage tools can help you free up tight spots, making muscles more pliable and responsive to stretching. Plus, it just feels great.
Our soft tissues can become more prone to injury as we age, making exercises such as Olympic-style power lifts or certain plyometric drills more risky; so many people avoid explosive movements altogether.
But there’s a safe way to get the benefits: use just your body weight (or if you want more of a challenge, use a resistance band). Start at the bottom of the movement, from a dead stop, then explode. For example: to do a jump squat, slowly lower into a squat. Hold for one to two seconds, then spring up and land softly. This targets difficult-totrain fast-twitch fibres and puts a spring in every step.
A caution before you start: proper form is key. Be sure to study the movements you want to make.