Training Tips for Older Runners: Top Tips
There’s plenty of info out there for up and coming runners, looking to take their first steps into the world of training for a marathon. But when it comes to training tips for older runners, runners who have been at it for decades, or perhaps are just starting out – useful advice can be few and far between.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t run if you’re over a certain age – countless runners have continued running, or even started running, well into their fifties, sixties, seventies and beyond!
The only thing to remember is, as time progresses, your body will react differently to the actions you take on the running track and in training. That’s why its important to take the time to reflect on the things you could be doing differently to combat the effects of father time.
So whether you’re a seasoned veteran with decades of running experience, or if you’re looking to get some more exercise as you get older, here are some of our training tips for older runners:
Talk to your GP
It might sound like a bit of a drastic measure, but it’s much better to be safe than sorry…
It’s no secret that as we get older our body isn’t as equipped to fight off certain ailments like illness or injury.
With this in mind, if you’re of a certain age (generally 45-50 or older) it’s a good idea to check with your GP before undertaking any strenuous training activity.
Otherwise you could be putting yourself at risk of worsening any underlying conditions you may or may not be aware of. For example, an undiagnosed heart condition or similar. That’s why training tips for older runners should always highlight this issue.
The same can be said for those who are over or underweight. Pushing yourself too hard when your body isn’t in the right kind of condition to take such strain can be dangerous.
In these types of situations it’s always wise to start slow and build yourself up to a manageable pace.
So, when in doubt, getting the approval of your GP before you begin training is the absolute smartest move you can make. Not just for your training regimen, but your life as a whole.
Adjust Your Targets
As our body ages it becomes much harder to keep up with the pace that we set ourselves in our younger years.
Muscle mass decreases, bones begin to stiffen, cardio capabilities decline and the whole thing becomes a much more difficult affair.
That isn’t to say it’s impossible to keep a solid personal best as we get age, though. Many runners find themselves doing sensationally well into their fifties and even older.
But we must remember to adjust our targets accordingly – there’s no point pushing ourselves too hard to try and reach an unattainable target that even twenty year olds would struggle to reach.
Over-exertion is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and injury for runners.
Instead, try focusing on more realistic target times for your age group, while keep them challenging enough to offer you something to strive towards.
There’s no point running if you don’t fancy a little bit of a challenge!
Recovery is an essential part of any runner’s schedule – or it should be!
Without proper recovery our body can’t be expected to continue to perform at such a high level, requiring so much physical effort.
Therefore it is essential that we leave a good amount of time in between heavy training sessions to allow any unseen damage we may have caused ourselves to heal and return to one-hundred percent condition.
But as we get older, our bodies take longer to get back to tip-top condition. That’s why it’s a good move to leave a little longer in-between training sessions than you would when you were younger.
It might also be smart to employ some different recovery techniques to help speed up the process and make it more effective. Things like massage, stretching and the application of hot/cold compress to sooth injuries have all been proven to be effective for various people.
It’s all about finding what works best for you.
Now, speaking of stretching…
Flexibility if one of the main qualities we begin to lose as we get older, which makes a lot of sense if you think about it:
Our bodies have been through that much over our lifetime it’s only natural that they’d begin to lose some movement.
But good flexibility is key if we want to keep up a regular and effective running training routine. The better our bodies can move, the faster we will run!
But how can we improve flexibility as we get older?
Stretches are one of the most obvious ways, as they’re a regular staple in every good runner’s arsenal.
There are countless stretches to choose from, each designed to work different muscle groups to keep them loose and responsive.
Another technique to improve flexibility that often goes missed, especially for older runners, is yoga.
Yoga has been riding a wave of popularity since the 1980’s. It’s only recently that major sports and athletes have started noticing the drastic health and recovery benefits it can produce.
So if you think yoga could be of some use to your running repertoire, there are countless Yoga groups in every corner of the country. Plus, there’s an endless amount of online resources that can help you get started from the comfort of your living room!
Change Your Mindset
This doesn’t necessarily fall under the banner of ‘Training tips for older runners’ but that doesn’t mean it’s any less important…
For a lot of older runners who’ve been running for a long time, getting used to all of the above can be an awkward process.
It’s never nice to admit it’s time to start slowing things down a bit. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing – it entirely depends on the way you look at it.
Rather than letting things get you down, which happens to the best of us, see these changes as a new opportunity to not only improve but build on your already impressive running experience.
Take it as a chance to defy all the odds and continue making a positive choice for your health and wellbeing.
After all, running is undoubtedly one of the best ways we can stay healthy and keep any number of unwanted conditions at bay.
Whatever age you are, you should never stop trying to improve. Or, at the very least, always keep moving!
At The Running Bee Foundation our amazing running events give runners of all ages the chance to get active and give back to their community!
We also offer grants to healthy living initiatives in the community that help tackle childhood obesity.
Could you or someone you know benefit from a Running Bee Foundation grant?…