Here’s what I’m learning as a master’s athlete (i.e., an old man), there isn’t a lot of room for error. All those things coaches have been telling you for years (nutrition, strength training, stretching, rolling, recovery), if you don’t do them now, or try to skimp, like you did in your 20s or 30s, you will get injured or see impacts to your performance.
So far, the biggest impact to maintaining speed and fitness as I age has been to increase the focus and consistency of my strength training. I think I’ve finally hit on a formula that doesn’t make me dread going to the gym to lift.
The second biggest impact has been a return to the track and consistent speed work. It doesn’t have to be the gut-busting, lung burning intervals of high school or college. I’m learning that consistency over intensity is also a key to success as a master’s athlete.
I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a morning person, but I do realize that I am most productive in the morning up until about 2 pm. After that I end up in a downward motivational spiral until I land on the couch by 6:30 barely able to contemplate turning the pages of a book.
If I am going to get anything of consequence done, it’s usually in the morning. I’ve especially noticed with the Addison’s that if I don’t workout by lunch, it’s likely not going to happen.
Your cortisol levels peak in the morning and slowly bottom out by the late afternoon to allow you to begin to get ready to sleep. My synthetic dosages follow the same pattern to try to mimic the body. My motivation to lace up the shoes or get on the bike is highest in the morning.
But knowing something and being motivated and then actually doing it are somewhat different things. I’ve developed a few strategies that help get me out the door and get my morning workout done.
Before I transition to triathlons for the summer months, I have one month and one more 5k (you can read my recaps of the previous three here, here and here) to tackle in the spring season. My times have been inching downward and my goal is to get back under that 20 minute barrier. I’ve written in the past about the mental and physical demands of running a fast 5k. Now, I want to talk tactically about the 4 key workouts for a faster 5k that I’ll be using this final month of training.
These 4 workouts target speed and pacing, the two critical factors in executing a successful 5k race strategy.
You get older, you get slower, even for the elites science, competitive records and experience all show that all athletes slow with age. It’s true and it starts happening faster and faster (as you get slower and slower) after 40 and especially after age 50. You might not be able to beat father time, but you can fight back.
Quite a few recent studies have shown that regular, targeted strength training can at least push back and help hold our fading paces a little longer. Here are my 7 favorite strength and weight training exercises to-do as a Master’s runner that hates the idea of slowing down.
I’m often asked how I could possibly find the time to read 50 or 60 books a year with a job, a family, exercise and every day social media distractions. I always tell them the same thing: I don’t try to gulp down books. I don’t set aside time for reading. Or plan to read for an hour after dinner. I just read whenever and wherever I can. Sure, sometimes I do go on hour-long binges, but mostly I read in 5 or 10 minute sips. I read in line. I read in waiting rooms. I read during lunch. It adds up to a lot of books over the course of the year.
I’ve found this small, simple act has become a cornerstone of my life as I get older and appreciate the inevitable and inescapable impact of time. Take one tiny, simple step. Repeat it daily. Have patience and the results will begin to accumulate. That’s it. It’s not new. It’s the debt snowball. Or Seinfeld’s chain. Or Ericsson’s rules for deliberate practice. But it’s no less powerful and I’ve come to appreciate it’s impact.
Real runners don’t use treadmills. Or something like that. There is a bias against treadmills in the fitness community. Some just find them boring. Some think they can cause injuries. Some just really hate them for other personal reasons.
Living in the Northeast, I’m not going to say I prefer running on the treadmill, but I’m glad they exist to help keep my motivated and in-shape in the dead of winter. However, being a data nerd, I do often wonder about treadmill workouts. I certainly don’t totally trust the numbers the treadmill is spitting out.
Just how hard are you actually working on the treadmill? What is the pace if you change the incline? Do your mechanics change on the treadmill? Should you really always set it to a 1% incline? Let’s get some answers.
I’ve been running regularly for a long time. I don’t say this to brag, but to point out the kinds of issues I struggle with now might not be the same as the ones a beginner runner finds most difficult. Depending on where you are in your fitness, just starting, somewhere in the middle, or a long-time veteran, you will likely encounter different struggles both mentally and physically.