GOLDEN RUNNING ADVICE FOR ALL AGES, 2018 update
The article, “Meb’s Tips For Performing Into Your 40’s And Beyond” presented on the Gearjunkie.com website is possibly the most concentrated wise advice on running training and racing that you will ever encounter. It was referenced in the post October 7, “WEEK 5: TURKEY TROT TRAINING” but deserves a fuller discussion. Don’t let the title fool you. His deep understanding is valuable for runners of all ages, given that over-training is the most common situation leading to a side-lining injury.
Younger and older runners may be equally as likely to “power-through” a hurtful session or an especially fatiguing program if there’s a goal outcome or race on the line. Perhaps it’s because we don’t know any better? That’s been my excuse but I can no longer use it.
The subtitle to this piece proclaims, “Its possible no endurance athlete has been more consistent, for longer, than Meb Keflezighi”. He was asked about “how to keep performing at your peak year after year”. For those who don’t recognize his name, this US Olympian’s experiences in the 10k and marathon began in the year 2000 and were repeated in 2004 and 2012. He’s won the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon and run many major events as an elite entry. He qualified once again for the Summer Olympics in 2016 at age 40 and ran it at age 41. Last year, 2017, he ran his last competitive marathon in November in New York City. Meb is now 43.
The article expands upon his insights:
- “You still got it”
- “Embrace your age”
- “Listen to your body in training”
- “Evolve your nutrition”
- “Put in the time (before and after your run)”
- “Err on the side of less”
- “If you do it right you can race more often”
- “Age is just a number”
- “In the end know when to ease off the gas”
One of the most helpful tips, which he sets by example, is to allow more recovery time. His training cycle is 9 days rather than the 7 in calendar period week, the traditional length of a training cycle, providing 2 extra days in which to fit in all necessary workouts. GREAT ADVICE AT ANY AGE, especially for those who are prone injury when starting a new plan to prepare for an important race. The 2 extra days can be used to rest, cross train, or work on strength.
I keep this article for frequent reference; there’s quite a bit of information packed into a small piece. For the time being, it will serve as a substitute for his training book “Meb For Mortals”. If Keflezighi can qualify for the same Olympic endurance test as 30 year-old Galen Rupp (US Marathon Olympic team trials), his advice is golden.
Not a marathoner? It is still possible to over train. Now that I’m walking and not running in races I’ve noticed the same tendency to fear rest. I use walking and other cross training sports to control weight and to maintain aerobic fitness. But without a day of rest between strenuous sessions, I now realize that an injury is waiting to put me on the sidelines, and then rest will be the rule rather than the exception of the week’s schedule. So, I take days off and mix-up physical activities to alternate working predominantly the lower body/ legs versus the upper body/arms. I’m finding it more difficult not to gain weight without closely monitoring diet, but am holding my own.
Meb’s comments on racing more often (article’s advice piece #8, “If you do it right you can race more often”) might get you thinking about your own annual competition schedule. Earned Runs suggests you plan at least a season in advance, preferably a full year. One of the reasons to do so is to accommodate a fuller schedule while avoiding injury, just as Keflezighi does. Strategically deciding to run more events can help keep you reduce training time and effort by consistently staying near optimal fitness as indicated in the gearjunkie.com article.
If you pay proper attention to your body’s signals, approach your training correctly, and train consistently enough, you can race more often because you will need less prep time between races to reach your optimal fitness. A NEED TO CHANGE BECAUSE OF AGE CAN BECOME AN ADVANTAGE!
It may not be wise to train with the goal of achieving a PR (personal record or best time) at the finish of EACH event, but rather to enjoy the fun of testing yourself and marking time with the accomplishment of a competition.
When my children were little, we would anticipate the succession of small and large holidays once summer was over that helped the weeks fly by during the school year, as we prepared to celebrate each one: Start of School, Halloween/All Saints Day, Thanksgiving, St. Nicholas Day, Christmas Eve/Day, New Year’s Eve/Day, St. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Spring coming, Opening Day of Baseball Season, Memorial Day, End of School.
Build your own list of meaningful/fun days to celebrate with an event or challange.
With the rise in popularity of 5k’s, each of these happenings now coincides with many organized running festivals on or near each holiday. Earned Runs follows a "school year holiday" schedule of successive events to encourage personal custom challenges. Several additional offerings have been introduced to broaden the number of potential events, from September to June, which can be walked, biked, run, or otherwise competed with fitness efforts.
One a month seems to allow sufficient time to recover and resume training between fun events.
More strenuous challenges that require longer training and recovery periods would best be scheduled so that smaller events lead up to the BIG ONE and assist with training. For example, fun 5k and 10k challenges would precede a late fall (November) half marathon. Low-level mid-December Snowflake Shuffle or Jingle Bell and New Year themed events could follow afterward, before training is to begin for a big-effort springtime competition.
If you're 40 or older you may resist acknowledging the fact that steps should be taken now to preserve fitness longevity into the future. Those less than 40 might consider the title to read, "Meb's Tip for Performing Without Incurring a Sidelining Injury." Weekend warriors that, of necessity, pack most hard training into 2 days/week while remaining inactive the other 5, may possess bodies that are functionally 'older", than chronological age, in competition, and benefit from me'bs advice it's not just for 'seniors'.
No one but you knows the reasons behind your training program. Consider tinkering with the training/event schedule to ensure you get the best effort from your body over the most years, injury free. And check out the rest of the advice in the article. Make age, and the need to adjust training/competing strategies, an advantage.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
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Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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