I hope you all had a happy thanksgiving. I actually ran a turkey trot 5K. I don’t know if it was a PR for me, but if not, it was pretty close. I am pretty proud of myself. However, it was my third 5K in a row where I tossed my cookie at the end. I don’t know if it was just that I pushed myself towards the end. Or that I am just getting older and my body is changing.
We all know as we age our body can’t handle the stress from running as well as it used to. And that is especially apparent in race times. Research has actually shown that after the age of forty, runners slow by an average of 1-6 seconds per mile, depending on the race distance.
Before I talk about the agonies of getting older, I wanted to summarize my weekly activity for “weekly wrap”. This link up is hosted by two awesome women Holly from HoHoRuns and Tricia from MissSippiPiddlin.
|Monday:||7 miles, 30 min elliptical|
|Tuesday:||rest , work 9-5|
|Friday:||3.5 miles, 10 min elliptical, arms|
|Saturday:||8 miles, 30 elliptical, legs|
Muscular Power In Older Runners
Older runners aren’t able to generate nearly as much vertical “push” off the ground as the younger runners because of their decreased ability to generate muscular power. The lack of muscular power has significant implications on their biomechanics. Younger runners generate vertical power to adopt a longer “loping” stride that spends more time in the air than on the ground. Where as older runners cannot generate the same muscular power, and are therefore forced to adopt a much higher stride frequency to run at faster speeds.
Maybe that is where the term the “old man shuffle” comes from
Stride Frequency In Older Runners
An additional barrier to efficient running comes as a result of the higher stride frequency. Since an older runner spends less time in the air, there is less time for an older runner to swing his or her legs forward. So the “shuffle” must be very quick and inefficient. And at higher speeds, this importance is magnified.
Compared to younger runners, older runners become even more inefficient as their speeds increases.
If your goal is to avoid or limit these age-related changes in running efficiency, it is pretty clear that you should aim to build or at least maintain your muscular strength.
Researchers in this area have identify two main reasons why older runners (and older people in general) cannot generate as much muscular power. First their is loss of muscle mass. And there is also a loss of force production at the cellular level in the muscles. Weight training should address both of these issues.
So if you are over the age of fifty, and you are not lifting weights once or twice a week, you should be!
Your focus should be on increasing the strength of the major propulsion and power muscles in your legs. These muscles include the glutes, hamstrings, and calves. They generate power during your running stride. By keeping them strong you will hopefully keep the age-related changes in running mechanics at bay.
Even though you should focus a little more attention to strength training, you should still keep up the speed work.
Now it’s not all doom and gloom. A higher stride frequency implies that your body is subject to less stress with each step. Less stress applied to the body means a lower incidence of many common running injuries.
So, getting older does not mean all bad news, especially if you follow this advice and understand the limitations!