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Do runners slow down with age?

Age seems to slow down many runners, Nandini Reddy explores if its just age or are their other factors.

Young runners seem to be faster. Some believe that it is because younger runners use their leg muscles differently. But is it only age that causes this change in gait and running speed? While most of us accept this logic that as we age our speed would diminish there is little to prove that this true. Today senior marathoners are flooding the marathon corrals. They even clock better timings than their younger counterparts, so what then what is it that slows us down?

A study states that muscles can be reinvigorated to perform at peak levels at any age if the person follows the right type of strength training. As we grow older our aerobic capacity decreases and with each passing decade it reduces by a further 10%. So while an octagenarian runner might have better aerobic capacity than a sedentary 40-year-old, there is still an amount of training that needs to be done to ensure that the body is in tune.

Strengthen the Muscles

So what is it that really slows us down as we age. With regular exercise, aerobic capacity can be improved or maintained – so that means you can keep up your pace. There is evidence that shows that muscles in the lower legs age earlier than others. That means that without adequate care the muscles will start losing strength and subsequently lead to injury. The two most important muscles that should be focussed on are the ankle and calf muscles. If these muscles are not strong enough then the chances of Achilles tendon and calf injuries tend to increase.

Weight

Another reason why we tend to run slower is our weight. As we grow older our metabolism slows down and the ability to lose weight reduces. Fit people who eat slowly, include protein and vegetables in their meals and watch their junk food intake will not have this issue. But if you don’t watch your food quality and quantity then maintaining a healthy weight becomes an issue. Running when you are overweight comes with its own range of injuries.

Motivation

One of the biggest reasons people slow down as runners when they grow older is actually the lack of motivation. One starts to become more conscious and careful to avoid injury and in the process, they stop doing the exercises which would help them avoid those injuries. Changing your mindset is the best way to stay active at any age.

Take the time to smell the roses but keep running because age doesn’t slow you down only your mind does.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

 

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Keep those legs pumping

Running isn’t just for the young ,today we have 80 year old setting new records  so how do you keep running at any age asks Nandini Reddy.

This erstwhile young man’s game has now become a playground of grit and mental strength for senior runners. However, as we age, there are a few things we need to keep in mind if you want to keep your legs pumping.

Just pounding the pavement isn’t easy on your body. You need to first keep in mind that as a senior runners you need to adhere to certain precautions and limits. These are not to discourage you as a runner but to keep you running longer.

Understand your Limits 

You may have been an aggressive runner when you were younger. Your training schedules might have rivaled elite runners but as an older runner you need to be a little smarter when it comes to knowing your limits. It is as important to be aware of when to back off as it is to understand how hard to push. Taking an easy day doesn’t make you a bad runner  it will help you become a smarter one.

Always run hot 

A cold body is prone to injury. Racing out of the corral without a warm-up is no longer an option. You should never do that. Warming up properly is even more important than it once was. You can opt for body weight moves like lunges, squats and dynamic stretches before you start running. You don’t have the burst out when you start. A slow jog or brisk walk that leads to a run is way smarter than a sprint burst. Ramp up your pace as you cover more distance. You can always gain back time in the second half of the race.

Pace it right 

Many senior runners will notice that their pace has changed over the years  As you get older you need to re-evaluate your pace. Set new goals that match where you are now, and be realistic with your expectations.

Walk Run is a good thing

If you are trying our running only now then you should consider the walk – run routine.Even runners who feel a little more fatigued than they’d prefer can get major benefits from simply walking or using a walk/run combination. If you are coming back to running after a break then it’s better to start slow and then move to running.

You are important

Watch what you eat because nutrition is extremely important for runners. If you want to become a serious runner then you need to eat like one. Whole and nutritious food with plenty of proteins and vegetables is essential. If you have aches and pains, then immediately check with sports therapists or a doctor. Never ignore slight nagging pain either.

Focus on Mobility

A lot of older people lose mobility and experience stiffness in their knees and hips. Strength training along with mobility work is important to ensure the body is well-oiled. You can split your training days into running days and days for strength and mobility work.

Schedule rest and recovery

Plenty of runners avoid major injury because they were smart enough to take a day off. You need to pencil in a test day into your schedule. If you need to be active then choose a light workout like a walk or yoga. The idea is to keep it easy and simple.

Remember that being smart about your running when you are a senior runner is extremely important.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

 

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Age no bar. Determination compulsory.

This mom and son running duo will give you serious fitness and parenting goals, writes Capt Seshadri.

While it is quite customary to hear of couples running together, or even families running for fun, it must be quite a rarity to see a centenarian mom and her septuagenarian son in competitive athletics, that too in World Masters competitions across the globe.

If ninety three is a ripe old age to start an athletics career, Mann Kaur epitomises it. Having watched her 71 year old son Gurdev Singh run a race at Patiala, sometime in 2007, Kaur was inspired to start running, ‘just for the heck of it’. If genius were truly 1% inspiration, this nonagenarian genius proved that it is also 99% perspiration, by beginning her training in real earnest. Preparing for the Chandigarh Masters Athletic Meet, she sprinted 50 m five times and each of 100 m and 200 m at least once each, every alternate day. That was to prove more than sufficient for the ‘Miracle Mom from Chandigarh’. In 2007, at the very same meet, she won her first medal. There was no looking back at the track.

Mom Kaur and son Gurdev have participated in several Masters Athletics meets around the world. In 2017, in Auckland, where over 18,000 competitors from over a hundred countries participated in 28 disciplines in these quadrennial games, Mann and Gurdev once again covered themselves in glory. While the ‘younger’ Gurdev won silver in the long jump, bronze in the 100 m and was placed 4th in the 200 m, golden girl Mann Kaur finished first in all her three events – the 100 and 200 m and the shot put, in the process earning her 17th international gold medal.

The dashing duo was well prepared for the World Championships at Rugao, China, but were sorely disappointed at not being granted visas. They were supremely confident of more medals and more glory for India. Sadly however, that was not to be. A consolation of sorts came by with Mann Kaur being featured as one among just six nominees worldwide, for the Laureus World Sports Awards in 2017. This award is an annual feature, often considered the ‘Oscar’ of sports, to honour sporting individuals and teams for consistent achievements throughout the year. Kaur, although unlucky to have lost out to Usain Bolt, can count her name against sporting luminaries like Tiger Woods and Roger Federer.

In Canada, where she is now settled, Mann Kaur is to be bestowed a lifetime achievement award. Her happiness is in getting to travel across the globe at her advanced age.” Kaur attributes her longevity and athletic prowess to her healthy lifestyle of clean living and a diet of boiled vegetables and wheat bread. “If you take junk food, then how can you run? I avoid fried food”, is her mantra. This simple centenarian world beater, who has even run a non-stop 3 km race in Mohali, near her home town of Chandigarh, along with legendary centenarian marathoner Fauja Singh, has this to say: “I will continue to run and take part in competitions as long as I can. It gives me a lot of happiness when I run. I believe that age is no bar to chase and realise your dreams.”

Age is no bar indeed. All you need is a road to run on.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan is a former armed forces officer with over 30 years experience in marketing. He also a consulting editor with a leading publishing house. He is a co-author of the best selling biography of astronaut Sunita Williams.

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The Man who ran Forever

Legendary Senior Runner, Ed Whitlock is remembered for his indomitable spirit by Capt Seshadri

It was a warm summer day in Toronto, on March 13, 2017. It was a day of mourning for the marathon runners of the world. The day marked the unfortunate demise, due to prostate cancer, of a master athlete, just a week past his 86th birthday, the only runner to complete a series of marathons at an age past 80, in less than 4 hours. RIP Ed Whitlock!

Born on March 6, 1931, this English-origin Canadian did not start running again until he was 41, concentrating at the time on middle-distance running, and after several years recording best times of 1:59.9 for the 800 metres and 4:02.5 for the 1500 metres. His initiation into marathon running came at age 48, from a spat with his 14-year old son, who Ed could not dissuade from competing but, rather, ran alongside and casually completed the course in 2:31:23. Now he was bitten by the running bug!

Well into his 60s, he turned his attention to road racing. However, it was as late as in 2003, when at age 72, he ran the 26.2 miler in 2:59:49. Two years later, the time was 2:58:40, creating the record for the oldest man to run a marathon in under 3 hours. The number crunchers confirm that, if extrapolated in age with a 20-year old runner, this time would have been equivalent to 2:03:57, probably one of the fastest marathons of all time!

Fifteen minutes at eighty years; that was the improvement Whitlock made to the world record for his age category, with an astonishing time of 3:25:43 at the April 2011 Rotterdam Marathon. Not satisfied with this superhuman effort, he improved the timing in October the same year, at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, to 3:15:54. Nothing could stop this remarkable athlete, least of all age. In October 2016, all of 85 years old, he became the oldest marathoner to complete the course in less than 4 hours, with a run of 3:56:34, once again at Toronto.

Ed’s running career and training program are unusual and unorthodox. His running shoes are worn out and outdated. His running vest is probably a couple of decades and a half old. He has never consulted a coach or trainer and has no records of his training mileage. And, unimaginable to any hardcore runner, he had no masseur, did not do weight training or stretching and abhorred supplements of any kind. What probably worked in his favour is an extraordinary lung capacity and a lean mass. But, above all, a dedication to win against time, against the track and against the body clock. With a cemetery as a running ground, Ed trained all alone, running around it for over 3.5 hours at a time, day after day.

Aging is an argument among the medical fraternity when it comes to Ed Whitlock. His running records at such an advanced age have prompted scientists and geriatric specialists to take a relook at the processes of aging and athletic performance. However, Ed’s own philosophy is quite simple. “I believe people can do far more than they think they can. You have to be idiot enough to try it.”

In a fitting tribute to a senior runner, Ed Whitlock, the super marathoner with undying stamina and indomitable spirit, was inducted into the Milton Sports Hall of Fame in 2016.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan is a former armed forces officer with over 30 years experience in marketing. He also a consulting editor with a leading publishing house. He is a co-author of the best selling biography of astronaut Sunita Williams.

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Stay in shape with Running

Running is an excellent way to stay healthy and be in shape for any age, writes Deepthi Velkur.

The benefits of running outweigh the risks and helps in reducing the many impacts of aging to a great extent. Seasoned runners tend to have better mobility, weight control, muscle strength, bone density and an overall sense of well-being. According to a recent Stanford university study, frequent runners tend to experience ailments such as heart disease, diabetes, neurological ailments, high blood pressure on an average 16 years later than non-runners. This makes it a great sport to take up at any age and especially for seniors its a great way to stay fit.

Here are some simple pointers to keep in mind if you want to start of your running career in your golden years:

Set realistic goals- Keep your goals small and attainable. There is a loss of muscle strength, aerobic capacity, higher recovery time and rest required as you get older; as a result, you cannot train and race at the same intensity. However, endurance runners who continue running into their older years have a much-reduced muscle loss when compared to inactive people of the same age. Adjust your expectations, pick realistic goals and continue to be active and committed to running.

Check with a professional-If your new to running or taken to running after a long break from being physically fit, checking with a doctor or a healthcare professional is a good idea and helps you build a customized training plan. Senior runners should always take the advice of a physician and the guidance of the coach before endeavoring into running.

Proper running gear- Choosing the right running gear is more important than just your comfort. With the body loosening up as you age, selecting the right type and size of clothing as well ensuring proper running shoes with adequate cushioning is imperative. You will find specialized running shoes in the market so get out and do some shopping.

Strength Training- Regular strength training helps in a slower decline of the muscle mass and this becomes very important when you are taking up an aerobic sport like running. Improved muscle mass helps the muscles to absorb more impact caused due to running and less stress on the joints. A mixed workout which includes swimming, cycling, yoga, simple leg and core exercises such as squats, planks, push-ups, and lunges help in your running performance and improves injury resistance when you are a senior runner.

Balance and flexibility- You can work on improving your balance by standing on one leg for 30 seconds or some yoga exercises like the tree and eagle pose. Legs, back, hips, and shoulders feel stiffer since they lose elasticity with time. Regular stretching and yoga especially post running improve flexibility.

Injury Prevention and proper recovery time-Slight change in body signals should not be ignored especially for senior runners and must be given immediate attention. Ensure your fitness plan includes adequate rest as it gives the body time to strengthen itself. Stretching before and after runs is equally important. Regular massages and foam rolling is also beneficial.

Follow these simple tips and you can hit the road with a calmer and focused mind as a senior runner. Running goes a long way in helping you achieve a balanced state of physical and mental well-being, so what are you waiting for – lace up those shoes and run free.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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