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Improving at every age !


Running, the sport of maturity, is allowing an ever increasing number of people in their forties and fifties to shine in timed races. However, you must make sure you adapt your training to progress on a long-term basis and without risk of injury. Here's how.

 

Choose quality and regular training above quantity

Running when you're 40, 50 or 60 years old is no problem. A 6 month check-up with a GP – or a sports specialist in the case of suspect pain – should be enough for regular and well-balanced exercise.

Although cardiovascular ability (the famous VO2 max) deteriorates with age, it is still possible to improve over the age of forty. Certain rules should however be followed:

- Make sure your exercise is correctly targeted. It is important not to overload your weekly programme with exercise that is too intense, and avoid getting yourself into a state of fatigue from which it is difficult to recover.

- Train regularly. An old hand will often stand out next to a younger competitor because they are more disciplined (almost without fail).

- Don't try to run too far. It's much better to run for 50 minutes at different paces than for 75 minutes while dozing at the same speed !

 

Learn to listen to your body

Stop being a slave to your watch! You can and should train without those worried glances at your wrist. After the age of 40, you should judge things by how you feel. This means:

- Opt for interval training in the countryside rather than on an athletics track.

- Avoid intensive training in the evening as much as possible (to avoid affecting your sleep).

- Don't worry about shortening some outings if you don't feel on top form after warming up.

 

Cross train

No serious training plan (and especially one from a sports specialist!) is complete without mixing up your training. Running is a high impact sport. As you get older, it therefore becomes more likely that regular or even intensive running will lead to injury.

Cross training should focus on the other endurance sport disciplines: cycling and swimming in particular. Pedalling or swimming (at least) once a week allows you to reduce the distance you run each week while still getting quality cardiovascular exercise.

Other advantages of cross training include:

- Developing other muscle groups aside from those used for running.

- Reducing the risk of tiredness.

 

Lead a healthy lifestyle

Long-gone is the time when a long outing at the weekend could follow on from an alcohol-fuelled evening and a bad night's sleep. After the age of 40, the body finds it harder to tolerate excesses. Therefore, make sure you have a balanced diet and get enough sleep (and take advantage, when possible, of a post-training nap).

Being a stickler for allowing yourself the correct recovery time is a major asset for older runners wanting to improve (or maintain a good level).

Of course there will be some discrepancies, which might even be a good thing. Running after the age of 40 should not necessarily mean giving up your home comforts!

 

Have a good run !

 

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