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Grapevine and Keller, TX

Spring is Here! Tips For Aging Runners

Spring has sprung in Texas after a crazy wet and icy winter in the DFW area. Rain, sleet, snow and ice have kept many runners on the dreadmill. If you follow this blog, you realize that Art and I are on a quest to run 2015 miles in 2015! This has been quite a challenge with the insane weather patterns and record cold temperatures; but we are still on track to get it done!

The end of March brings not only warm spring weather, but also Art’s 50th birthday! Hard to believe! So today’s blog musings are dedicated to Art’s birthday and the aging runner.

A wealth of studies show that proves running well into your AARP card age bracket brings far more benefits to the body than risks, particularly since the reality of degeneration is inescapable. Running can delay and significantly reduce many of the impacts of aging. One study out of Stanford University supported the long accepted anecdotal conclusions that compared to non-runners, running seniors are 16 years later to experience heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, some cancers, and neurological ailments. As a group, they experience better mobility, coordination, weight control, bone density, muscle strength, and an overall sense of well-being.As a physician, I have long held these facts to be self-evident, but it’s nice to see our assumptions backed up by hard evidence.

Here are some tips for aging runners:

  1. Start with a good platform. Most fit seniors are actually losing a lot of their fat pad on the bottom of their feet. They also have more pronounced biomechanical issues due to the lovely aging process. Having the correct shoes with a good fit is paramount! Many require functional orthotics in a cushioned running shoe for optimal comfort.
  2. The body as it ages becomes less and less elastic. Warming up, stretching and cooling down are even more important for the aging athlete. Stretch every day!! And yoga and pilates can be your friends!
  3. Listen to your body! The days of “no pain, no gain” are over. If it hurts, stop! Address small issues quickly and they won’t sideline you for months. Come visit your favorite podiatrist ☺
  4. Plan active rest. Also known as relative rest. When I turned 40 I took up triathlon so that I could have a good reason to cross train with swimming and cycling. Rest and adequate sleep can be an amazing youth elixir.
  5. Vary your workouts. Different surfaces, different intervals and mix in some cross training. Stop pounding the same joints and muscles every day.
  6. Choose less (but higher quality) speed workouts and more sustained distance/time efforts to counter the natural and inevitable decline in aerobic capacity.
  7. Race from time to time to keep yourself motivated and to enjoy the social part of running!
  8. Make running fun again by picking destination races and events. I like to say that “I don’t race anymore, I participate.” Many times it is way more fun to just participate and enjoy the events, especially when the venue is a new city or country.
  9. Volunteer at races or coach a running club. Your longevity and energy can really help newbie runners keep the boom moving!

Despite a few opinions to the contrary, running as we age can be a literal life-saver and can slow down the aging process! The aging runner is making strides in achieving the greatest physical and mental well-being possible. For an overall excellent quality of life, hit the roads and trails. Just run happy!

More on master’s running to come…

Run Happy and follow us to 2015 miles in 2015! 500 miles down, 1515 to go…