I have been running competitively since I was 11-years-old. Many of those years (and decades) included running six days a week with an occasional strength work out or core session. My idea of cross training was to do hill repeats, speed sessions, and fartleks. Then I grew up….Perhaps you can learn a thing or two from my experiences.
Running after 40 requires you to find balance.
Rest is not a dirty word, or because you were just too busy. Rest is the time your body repairs from all the hard work. Getting adequate sleep is even more important as you age. Build rest into your schedule. Runners literally pound their bodies and need time to repair the damage so you can get stronger. Tired bodies also have poor mechanics and can lead to over-use injuries. Adequate sleep also gives the mind time to rest and recover as well. I find that when I get 8 hours sleep and a nap on Saturday after my longest run of the week, I feel a lot stronger and healthier.
Hydrate! Hydration is so much more important as your age. Sweat rate, kidney function and our thirst mechanism all decrease as we age. That is why we are more likely to get dehydrated especially running in Texas. Drink until you “slosh” a bit in the 24 hours before a big race. Make sure you continue to hydrate during a race or long workout. I instituted timed walk breaks during my long workouts just to make sure I regularly hydrate! It’s amazing how much better I feel on those longer runs!
Strength Train! Stretch! As we age, we lose muscle mass. We also become less and less elastic. This can be thwarted by regular strength training and stretching. Yoga is an excellent way to do static strength training and add a flexibility component as well. Regular strength training has been show to increase running economy and actually decrease overuse injuries, especially in older women. I know my yoga sessions have really helped me feel stronger and run faster. They can help you too!
Learn to Participate and Not Race! Or in other words, who cares about your time! Let’s face it, I will never run a marathon faster than my Boston qualifier in 2001. And I don’t care! I’ve earned the right to not care. I’m racing myself and the aging process. I go to races to participate and often to see my daughter race. The sheer joy of running returns when you realize that pace doesn’t matter anymore. I listen to my body and run the pace it gives me that day. Listening to my body has kept me out of injury trouble for years. I run because it will help me live a longer, heathier, more active life! Not for times….
Live long and prosper! Run smart, happy and injury free!