David Bowie told us nothing would touch us in these Golden Years. I’m not sure he had aging runners in mind.
For those of us blessed with any mix of good genes, healthy habits, and maybe a little luck in holding off age-related diseases, we’re still running.
For a refreshing dose of reality, I recently read Lena Hollmann’s article titled Running in the Golden Years. Hollman, a senior athlete, personal trainer and certified running coach, published her article in RRCA’s Spring/Summer Club Running.
Beyond just showing up for runs, this coach says to get the most years and quality from our running, older runners need to take heed of age-related body changes and add the following areas to their fitness program:
MORE STRENGTH TRAINING –If you’ve successfully avoided the weight room – or the family room floor with its soft carpet and space for pushups and planks – do yourself a favor and allocate some time. Hollmann says greater muscle mass help our joints withstand the impact of running. Strength training also speeds up our metabolism, and who doesn’t want a speedier metabolism? (I wrote earlier about my moment of reckoning with loss of strength (Conquer the Overhead Bin.)
MORE BALANCE WORK – Hollmann recommends exercise to maintain our balance – and here she includes flexibility. This could include some basic Yoga poses and/or dynamic stretching. I appreciate her examples because they can be done as I go about my day. Have the microwave set at 2 minutes? Stand near the counter and do a tree pose. Cooling your heels at the corner of walk & don’t walk? Do a few ankle raises while you wait. Longer warm-up times also help address the need to keep our flexibility.
MORE RECOVERY TIME – Hollmann advocates for longer recovery times between workouts, but she doesn’t advocate lolling about on the sofa. She suggests instead a day of cross-training or some alternate cardio workout, maybe get out on the bike, or swim some laps.
Setting an example for working the three ‘mores’ above, Hollmann had an early career running track in the 1970’s and moved to distance running in the 1980’s. She PR’d at the NYC Marathon in 1983 with a 2:44:10 and took 10th place in the 1984 Boston Marathon. She continues to successfully run today, competitive in her age group, and encouraging other senior runners to continue.
I’m on board for following her advice. How much ‘more’ any of us will need of course varies with the individual. I’m reminded every day that I can’t be complacent in maintaining my strength, flexibility, or my health in general.
Are other seniors out there doing more to maintain and support their running? I sure hope so. I need the company out there on the road.