On the featured image you can see Dr Romanov teaching. https://posemethod.com . He is improving athletes of all sports and all ages. Everybody can be bettered, it is just a question of will power, determination and decision ! The choice is yours ! Want to be better or want to look for excuses ?
The ageing runner syndrome is a mental impairment, where most closed minded runners go to hide to build excuses. Harsh way to start this article, isn’t it ? Have a reality check, and see that probably a part of you is there too, in that dark place ! If you heard any of these statements from your own mouth, you might not even notice, but you are on the way of developing into an athlete looking for excuses and magic pills instead of hard work:
- I need more recovery as I get older
- I need more heel cushioning in my shoes
- I cannot run as much as before
- I am loosing speed with age
- I don’t do track workouts anymore, cause I get injured
Why do we hear these negative thoughts ? Well first of all, because everybody is looking for an easy solution for decades, they never find it, but they still keep on searching, instead of putting in the hard (actually easy) daily work !
As we get older, we loose muscle and muscle density and the more we run, the more accelerated this process is. When we started running as a young-buck, we should have incorporated strength and conditioning immediately into our routine, to preserve deep joint and muscle mobility, strength, elasticity and to maintain and augment speed and explosiveness. We should also have adapted all kind of all-plane plyometric drills at least once a week. Why ? If you cannot even simply leap forward to hop over small pond when raining, or to jump sideways when a dog barks at you, without getting a muscle pulled, there is a health-issue completely non related to running, but missing crucial lifestyle factors ! This is why runners loose speed so drastically. You injure yourself, you cannot run anymore, you eat, hydrate and sleep badly and whammm, 30days later you are 30seconds out from your comfort zone pace.
Recovery has the same thing to do with it. As younger runners we did not incorporate enough time for the yoga, foam rolling, stretching, cold immersion, breathing, compex and we did not eat as well, got dehydrated and sun-struck and now over 45, we have a hard time to comprehend, that we seriously in need of those tools and extra recovery time. We don’t need more time to recover, just simply time ! We always needed it, just did not respect it as much in the past ! Bricking together six 100mile races a year or doing 8 back to back 10k races for 2months was never a good idea !
Do you think that when a pro mountain athlete does 10 trail-races a year, he works as hard full-time and taking care of his family as you do ? No ! On the contrary.
They work hard when training, for that 2 to 3hour period a day, then rest and recover and sleep 8 to 12hours each night. They have a system of massage therapist and osteopaths working on them, they can access sauna and physio rooms and might have sponsoring for the free use of medical equipment. Regular blood work is also done on them, maybe even on a weekly basis, to micro-manage nutrition, hydration, sleep and training ! Immediate “legalised” medical interventions are also something to think about ! They got a joint inflammation or any injury ? PRP, peptide, stem-cell or other “homeopathic” injections can be accessed without having spent half of their salary and on medical bills and half of their time in the waiting room !
Do you think that when a professional runner says that he trains 30hours a week, it is all running ? Imagine the average speed that they are running at. Around 10 to 14hours would already equal well over 100miles a week ! The rest is all recovery methods and strength and conditioning. Yes they have the time, yes they are used to it. So what ?
Man-up and understand, that at the age of 50 to maintain, fitness, speed and resilience, during a 10hour training week you cannot run 10hours ! You might run only the half of it and lift heavy weights, do foam rolling, yoga and practice swim sprints the rest of the week. The 5minutes of suffering under an ice-cold shower before bed-time might give you just a bit of boost in testosterone and just a bit more sleep quality, that your running will greatly improve.
As we age our gut-biome changes. Mostly because of environmental factors and a lack of previously consumed genetically correct foods. This can also impair bodily repair. I see runners saying:
“At the old times, I raced every weekend and was recovering so well, but now…. ? – with a post-race / Sunday long-run beer in the hand. Really ? “
If this is what you were doing in the last 2 decades, I am not surprised that your current recovery-system is blown away !!! You can change it however ! It is just the question of determination and immediate decisions ! Unfortunately most runners will never give up alcohol or as simple things as cheese, bread, corn-flakes, or a daily 10pm movie to have an immediate pain-relieving effect in under 7days ! Stupidly little, accumulated, long lasting bad lifestyle habits, what hinder recovery, not age !
I refuse to train many runners as one of my requirements, just to start working with me, is to get 2months of improving MAF tests going on. This is a sign of quality health and improving fat burning capacity while improving speed. Health, fat burning, speed ! I provide the sources and the tools needed to achieve this during a 1st consultation: Detailed health, general training and running technique advice ! The athlete can decide to follow it or not, but the 8x8km MAF tests during the 8weeks should show a gradual uphill gradient in case of pace for the first 1km and overall time ! If they had the knowledge to achieve this without actual MAF style training, good on them and I will know from this, that probably their load-bearing capacity is higher for anaerobic exercises, what is cool with me. This can come from genetics and muscle fibre composition, training history, or just the simple knowledge of “training and recovery systems” , adjusted to their own body !
A lot of athletes fail on this 2months, unfortunately ! In this case, if we worked together, our focus will not be on a weekly running program, but on improving health, lifestyle and running technique, until you can achieve the 2months of “improving” base training !
As an example, 2 years ago – I remember well – I had 3 problematic athletes ! One had hard time giving up gluten and cheese, the 2nd one was drinking alcohol at least 3 times a week, to satisfy “client needs” , and the third was just not mentally able to NOT go over his MAF limits. In certain individuals, training regularly/always just 3 to 4 beats over your MAF HR, can trigger as much inflammation as light gluten and milk-product sensitivity !
Only one of them was determined to do a 180° turn and give up his old life, to eventually improve work performance, family experience and training capacity. He then realised, that giving up milk, pasta and beer was just so easy and simple, that he can turn, switch and change any deeply imprinted habits in a matter of seconds ! Decisions, no excuses ! Do or do not, there is no try !
The same explanation goes for shoes. When you can run, on your forefoot, leaning forward, with high cadence, with proper posture, using a properly fuelled, lubricated athletic body, you can run a hole on the sole of your minimally cushioned running shoes. However, if one third of a century is spent stubbornly striking on your heels, yes, you might be cooked with no cartilage left in your knees, hips and with a silent but deep pain radiating all over your body.
When muscles work as they must, when breathing is in it’s place, controlling your intra-abdominal pressure while stabilising your trunk and entire upper body, when shoes chosen and used wisely, you can actually run all your life, in minimally cushioned long lasting running shoes.
Crucial constant factors to trigger positive running changes:
- Lifestyle habits: nutrition, hydration, sleep
- Stress: air quality, electric pollution, chemical exposure, work related stress, medication, family related stress, emotional stress in general,
- Running: anatomically correct lifestyle and running shoes, running technique, sport breathing, posture, foot-fall, ground contact, running surface, effort, MAF, periodisation, strength and conditioning, functional mobility and much more
Age is time. Time is accumulation of experience, what is endurance. En-durability ! As time goes, we should build our body, we should be better than before. This is how it should be ! We are humans. Look at the elders in tribal African villages. They are not obese in a wheel-chair, but still very much active until the second they die ! They are proud of their knowledge, endurance, patience ! Proud of their AGE !
Age is not an excuse ! Age is Grace !