If you have crossed your 30s and consider yourself to be too late to start running or get your PR, think again! You can run stronger forever if you know what changes are happening in you and train accordingly. As we age, we face new challenges. It is important to make changes in the training routine so that we adopt aging for good. Hence, if we want to run longer, stronger, and injury-free as we age, we must understand physiological changes and make our training program get the best out of it.
The 40s is the right age
As we enter our 40s, we start losing muscle mass much faster than we think. Hence we must increase protein intake to maintain muscle strength. It has been found that men lose 2% strength and cardio fitness per year. Women may lose higher. We thus need to work smarter rather than harder. Reduce high-intensity runs per week. Eat protein within 30 minutes of your workout. It is important to have an adequate amount of Vitamin D as it improves performance and reduces the risk of injury.
For women runners, hormonal changes are happening which reduces muscle strength and mass. Many also experience loss of power, increased stress, hot flashes, and inflammation. Premenopause age is more challenging. Cramps, headaches, tiredness, mood swings are new things that change many routine aspects. However, less estrogen levels can be countered by intake of at least 1.0 to 1.2 grams of protein per kg body weight daily. Women’s bone density too reduces so they need Magnesium, Vitamin D3, and Calcium.
50s is not late
The door to the 50s open door to the loss of more muscle mass and testosterone levels. However, everyone’s body is different. So this is the time to experiment. Mixing running training with bodyweight training such as planks, push-ups, pull-ups squats, etc allows the body to adopt new strength. One can mix this with weight training. A good session of stretching and Yoga can further enhance balance and flexibility. Certain injuries such as Achilles Tendinitis, shin splits, and piriformis syndrome are common. So one can take extra precautions to avoid these. During training one must not have targets. Run as you feel. If you feel good, run faster and longer. But if you feel low, do not push or force yourself.
Preventing injury is the key to a good running experience. So one must do mobility training and increase flexibility. Remember our muscles and connecting tissues lose elasticity. Hence, these changes reduce our stride length. So running only will induce injuries. Besides increasing mobility and flexibility, strength training contributes to stability leading to injury-free training.
The 60s is the time
Aging reduces our stride length considerably. As our muscles lose strength especially glutes and hamstrings, our gait changes. Therefore, uphill training can help us maintain a good stride length. Hill training builds leg strength and also enhances speed. But hills training has its challenges. So start slow and shorter tracks. Slowly build them up.
This age group also shows an increase in weight because of slower metabolic rate and accumulation of body fat. A high protein diet will preserve lean body mass. So aim to consume at least 1.0 gram per kg of body weight every day. Besides these, supplements such as Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin K are also critical. Dietary fiber is also important to maintain a healthy digestive system so that absorption of micro-nutrients is effective.
The 60s is the age to mix running with other training such as swimming, cycling, etc. Also, get variation in your track. Different tracks have different challenges. The variation allows the body to adapt to running well.
The 70s is time to achieve
Speed reduces and you need to be accepted this with grace. It doesn’t matter what pace you are running. Important is that you must enjoy running and doing it without pain and injury. Strength training is an important part that includes functional training such as hamstring curls, leg extensions, yoga, single-leg exercises, etc.
Speed workout according to your training is important. It keeps you fit and competitive. Cross-training is important to maintain cardiovascular health at its peak. Stretching and yoga are the best tools to remain injury-free.
General rules for all age
- Avoid running empty stomach. You can take high-carb food such as bananas, toast, etc. This will boost sugar levels in the blood required for running.
- Hydrate well. Remember thrust response declines with age. Increase your fluid intake especially during and after training.
- Protein is the building block and recovery tool. Ensure about 10 grams of proteins before a run and 30 grams within 30 minutes of finishing the run.
- Tofu, peanut butter, egg, chicken, soya beans, whey protein supplement, plant protein supplement. Are a few ways to ensure sufficient amounts of protein intake.
- As we age, carbs are equally important. Once we have finished our training, we must consume fast-absorbing carbs such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, etc. Avoid fried or heavy foods such as pancakes etc.
- Remember to consume a balanced meal within 2 hours of training. As we train body becomes deficient in various micro-minerals also. Hence balanced food is a must to boost immune functions and decrease inflammation.
- With age, there is a requirement for bedtime snacks. A slow-digesting protein taken during bedtime increases metabolic rate and speeds up recovery.
Running at 100
Do not get surprised. Many runners are running and breaking world records at 105. Running is for every age. There are challenges involved with every age and as we age those challenges increase. However, that does not mean that we stop. An adaptive training for every age can help build better health both physiological and cardiovascular levels. This leads to an active, healthy, and excellent quality of life.
It is never too late to start running and never too old to stop.
Article By : Capt Jitender Harjai Fitness Coach H2F Care