Being a runner over 40 has presented new areas of interest (and concern) for me on the road and more importantly in my training and recovery off the road. I love to run and it's great to see research being done on older runners... the Yale study that shows that older marathon runners (women in particular) are improving their running times more than younger runners.
I would like to share some insights and tips that I have learned along the way. Many of these women's running tips can apply to all runners, but they definitely take on a new perspective as the years go on and we get older, wiser, and perhaps, faster.
1. Adding Miles: SLOWLY! Use the 10% rule. Add no more than 10% increase of the mileage each week. Here's more detailed explanation and chart from FitSugar.
2. Warmup: As we get older, the body needs time to get going and giving it that time will help avoid injuries. See "The Perfect Warmup" from Runner's World.
3.Cross-Training: Is a must for any runner, but as you age the relationship between cross-training and running becomes even more important. For a different, low impact, cross-training option, see this http://www.remanents.com/blog/adventures-in-aqua-running-marathon-training-with-an-injury/ post on Aqua Running (or Pool Running). Core exercises have become another essential, here's some good ones from Runners World. Running Planet has done a nice job w/ laying out “The 8 Rules of Strength Training".
4.Stretching/Yoga: Another must for the aging runner (and this has certainly been debated by many). Dara Torres proved this in her Olympic effort that stunned us all. She adhered to a strict resistance stretching regime (see previous post – “Doing the Home Stretch with Dara Torres”). I am not a huge fan of yoga, but here's a good article by Runners World about a runner w/ a ITB injury who didn't like yoga at the beginning, then became a convert. My always injury free LDF ("Long Distance Friend") swears by power yoga!
5.Rest: This has become one of the most important parts of my training. If I don't get enough rest, my body begins to break down. Listen (very closely) to your body.
6.Massage: Another Dara Torres staple and one of my personal favorites. It does not matter if you have a fabulous husband like I do or get from a pro, it works to relieve the stress of training and tired muscles. You can even do it yourself w/ some videos by Rich Poley who wrote "Self Massage for Athletes".
7.Set a Goal: Having a goal or a race to strive for makes the training have a purpose and keep me focused.
8.Training Programs: A little planning goes a long way. If possible, try to plan your training to run more often on softer surfaces like trails, dirt roads, grassy parks, or even the track. A few good programs are on our resource page. There are many good ones out there--find one that suits you.
9.The Track: Most marathon training programs will include track work as it helps develop the fast twitch muscles to build speed and lung power during a race...getting older does not mean getting less competitive:) If I am training for a marathon, it really makes a difference for me especially in the later miles of the race. Good article from Runner's World called "Running in Circles".
10.Injury/Recovery: This one is hard for me as I have had many... at 46, I still like to run fast. There are several common injuries to running and I think I have had them all. See “Coming back from an injury" posts. I have learned to recognize my body's warning signs and back off. Many of these tips (see Rest, Diet, Stretching/Yoga, Massage, Weight/BMI, Orthotics, and more) are meant to help avoid injuries or help w/ recovery.
11.Running with Music: Running with music can help motivation and provide a needed distraction. I have also learned about the importance of BPM (beats per minute) and ensuring that if you are listening to a song, be sure it is not too slow and unconsciously slowing your pace. Find 70's, 80's, and 90's music along w/ best bands of today and learn more about BPMs in this post: “Best Running Music Ever”
12. Weight/BMI: It seems that fast marathoners have a low Body Mass Index (BMI). Marathon Guide has a quick tool to calculate your BMI. Knowing yours can help to find the "right" BMI for your best running performance. See also post: “What's the 'right' BMI for a woman marathoner?"
13.Running in Different types of Weather: I am not a treadmill runner, so I will run in anything short of a blizzard. With the right layers of clothing this is possible. However, if you are training in summer for a fall race, beware of weather differences. The weather during your race may be very different then when you are training. Don't be discouraged if you are not able to run 17 miles the way you think you should when you are in 80-90 degree heat and high humidity. Here are some good tips for running in the rain.
14.Travel Running: Always bring the running shoes along! Some of my best runs have been among the monuments of parks, cityscapes and beaches of sand. Hotels (see this post that mentions WestinRun) now will provide maps (and sometimes runners) to guide you. With the help of MapMyRun you can find a route from anywhere. Take a look at some of our Travel running posts.
15.Running and Sex: Here's an interesting article by Running Times that quotes an Israeli scientist who declared "Women compete better after orgasm, especially high-jumpers and runners"...who am I to argue w/ Israeli scientists?
16. Fartlek Training: Sports Fitness Advisor has some good tips on how to incorporate fartlek into your training (psst...if you don't know what fartlek is, check out 10Ktruth.com's "Runnerspeak - Dictionary of Running Jargon and Other Sport Terms").
Ed Note: This article was written by Monica Anderson, the founder, owner and creator of Remanents. She is a mother of three and avid marathon runner. Several years ago Monica launched a new line of running themed tees and notecards along with a new running blog for women called: a bold pace-running for our lives. The high-quality papers, witty wordplay, clean design, and innovative packaging have made Remanents a favorite of discerning customers. Remanents has been sold in many exclusive stores including, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Henri Bendel, Nordstrom and Anthropologie-and in hundreds of paper and lifestyle stores across the US. Also sold internationally in Japan, Australia, U.K. and directly at www.remanents.com.