Sunday, November 15, 2009

the aging runner

I read an excellent article in the November issue of the Running times by Richard Lovett on the Science of Aging. I will summarized some of what I read and add some of my thoughts as well.

the bad news

Runners will slow approximately 7% per decade starting in their 40's/ 50's/ 60's and then more quickly. Why? VO2 max declines, flexibility and strength declines, body fat may increase, max heart rate drops 1 beat per minute each year and we (the aging) have a reduced ability to clear lactic acid.

the good news

VO2 max in sedentary people declines by 10% per decade after age 30. VO2 max in runners who stick with training can cut that decline in half. Long runs of at least 1 hour at a moderate pace and continuing to race can help maintain VO2 max. We should maintain the intensity of our harder workouts but we may need to reduce the frequency our of hard runs. We need to allow more time to recover/ more rest days.
I swim twice a week with a pull buoy. This allows my legs to rest while I still get a cardio workout.

Flexibility and strength: We must keep our functional mobility or in other words our ability to squat and kneel. How many of our peers can't get out of their chairs without using their arms or squat to check their tire pressure? If functional mobility/strength is lost our running will suffer. We will be at a higher risk for injury. We should work on dynamic stretching, foam rolling and careful static stretching. We need to use the range of motion that we have during everyday activities. Use or lose it! Strength training with manageable amount of weight to the point of moderate fatigue or "burn" will help maintain our baseline strength.

"Long may you run"
Neil Young

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