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“Should I be eating carbs?”,” Supplements… Yes or no?”, “What protein should I be eating?”,”Why am I still picking up weight???”

There are so many mixed messages & conflicting advice when it comes to nutrition for over 50-year-old runners.

All you really need is no fluff, science-based nutrition training, and relevant nutritional advice that tells you how much to eat and drink and why you need to eat and drink those certain things. 

Doing physical activity such as running brings a lot of advantages such as a lowered risk of chronic lifestyle-related diseases as well as longevity, but one of the amazing benefits that you get for free, when you train regularly is good bone health. 

Good bone health implies a little bit of strength, but also bone mineral density. Our bones support us and allow us to move. Our bones also store minerals such as calcium and phosphorous, which help keep our bones strong, and release them into the body when we need them for other uses.

There are many things we can do to keep our bones healthy and strong…

We know that a high level of physical activity may prevent fractures; and even if it does not attenuate bone loss, it can decrease the fracture risk. 

Something everyone needs to know is that we will always lose bone…

What we’re going to look at is how we can preserve bone mass as we get older by taking advantage of the benefits we gain through physical activity. 

So, let’s break it down…

Everything You Need To Know About Bone Health

If we have a look at the bone and what it comprises, it’s 65% of minerals. Most of those minerals are Phosphorus and Calcium.  

This is the reason why aspects of your diet become more important.

Bone is also made of connective tissue. Connective tissue contains a lot of different nutrients.

This is the reason why you need to eat a large variety of foods to maintain your bone health as you get older.

Peak Bone Mass

Peak bone mass is usually achieved by the age of 30 to 35. After this age, there is a decrease in bone mass.

A decrease in bone mass means that the bone reabsorption rate is greater than the bone synthesis rate. 

  • Resorption means a decrease in bone. 
  • Bone synthesis is an increase in bone.

Bone Mass

We refer to bone mass as bone mineral density, it is basically how much mineral is in the bone & bone strength. 

Bone strength is the ability to resist the restraint that is placed on the bone, this is done with resistant training.

To have strong bones you need to minimize the risk of osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a disease where the bone becomes very fragile and brittle, it basically feeds off of the bone.

Osteoporosis can increase fracture risk and affect your quality of life. 

So, what happens to our bones as we age…

In the image above, you can see the male bone progression on the yellow line and the female on the red line.

As you can see there is a period where we attain peak bone mass, then there’s a consolidation phase, and then there is that rapid loss of bone as we then pass a certain age and as I said, the activity that we do can delay the process, but it’s not going to make you build bone at the age of 50. 

In our early 20s, about 90% of our bone mass is attained. What a lot of people don’t know is that if you didn’t attain it then… then you don’t attain it ever.

That’s why our early nutrition needs to be so good. 

All we can do now is try to preserve the bone mass that we’ve got. 

If we have another look at the graph above you can see that at the age of about 30 years, that’s where we get our highest period of bone mass, then there is a decrease of 0.5% per year after we reach the age of 40.

The goal is to slow down that 0.5% decrease in bone mass each year.

Slowing down the rate at which your bone mass decreases depends hugely on what you had before you reached the age of 40, your genetics, the physical activity you do, and your hormonal status.

Bone loss happens a bit earlier and at a more drastic pace in females compared to males, this is due to a decrease in estrogen after menopause. Estrogen has a very strong protective effect on bone, so after menopause and after the drop in estrogen there will be a steep decrease in bone loss. 

The good news, as you can see in the yellow circles on the graph above is that even though bone mass will carry on decreasing, it can be slowed down through physical activity and proper nutrition. 

Let’s find out how we can maintain what we have for a longer period…

How To Support Bone Health

Key nutrients that support bone health:

  • Protein (meats, dairy, fish, eggs,) 
  • Calcium (Dairy, spinach, kale, okra, white beans)
  • Phosphorus (Dairy, meats, nuts, fish, beans)
  • Vitamin D (Fatty fish, cheese, egg yolk)
  • Magnesium (Whole grains, spinach, nuts, quinoa, avocado)
  • Zink (Meats, Shellfish, nuts, legumes)
  • Copper (nuts, shellfish, offal)
  • Boron (Fruits, nuts, lentils, beans, wine)
  • Manganese (Tea, bread, nuts, green vegetables)
  • Potassium (Banana, broccoli, parsnips, nuts)
  • Iron (Liver, meats, beans, dried fruit, leafy greens)

As well as these vitamins:

  • Vitamin K 
  • Vitamin C 
  • Vitamin A
  • B vitamins

The crux of the matter is that we have to try and include all the food groups in our daily diet. 

Bone Health & Food Variety

Dairy is extremely important because that’s the group that supplies calcium and phosphorus, which we need to consume to strengthen our bones.

We should eat fruit & vegetables daily.  A few people try not to eat fruit & veg because they are watching their carbohydrate intake but they don’t realize how important it is because of all the micronutrients veggies and fruit contain. 

Grains and starches should be eaten every day, as well as protein as it forms the matrix in which mineralization takes place. 

In a nutshell, it is so so important that we include all food groups daily.

We should strive to eat unprocessed, in-season nutrient-dense meals so that every bite counts. 

If we have to break it down and if this is all a bit too much for you to take in… just remember these 3 nutrients…

3 Main Nutrients

If we have a look at nutrition and bone health, the 3 main cornerstones are Calcium, Vitamin D, and Protein. 

You should be getting about 1000 to 13000 milligrams of Calcium per day.

Calcium in food, especially in milk is the highest and easiest to absorb. One glass of milk or one serving of dairy products is about 300 milligrams, therefore it makes sense to have 3 servings of dairy products per day to get the correct calcium intake required.

If you are following a vegan diet then…

Good sources of calcium for vegans include:

  • Green, leafy vegetables – such as broccoli, cabbage, and okra.
  • Unsweetened soy, rice, and oat drinks.
  • Calcium-set tofu.
  • Sesame seeds & tahini
  • Brown and white bread (in the UK, calcium is added to white and brown flour by law)
  • Dried fruit, such as raisins, prunes, figs, and dried apricots

You should be getting about 1500 to 2000 international units of vitamin D per day.

Vitamin D is not found in a lot of food, tuna or a cup of milk do contain some vitamin D but not enough, the place where you can get a substantial amount of vitamin D is from the sun.

If you live in a place that gets little sun, we recommend that you consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement.

You should be getting 20 to 30 grams of protein per meal.

The protein you consume must be high quality so that it contains over essential amino acids. 

Nutrition Recommendations To Preserve Bone

Bone Health Problems Specific To Athletes

  1. Energy Availability
  2. Low Carbohydrate Availability
  3. Protein Intake
  4. Vitamin D Intake
  5. Dermal Calcium Losses

Energy Availability

When we talk about energy availability, we look at the dietary energy intake, so how much people eat, but we deduct from that the exercise energy expenditure, not the total energy expenditure.

For example, if I take 2500 calories of energy per day, but my exercise is 1500, it means I’ve got 1000 left….that is then what we call energy availability.

If we decrease energy availability by eating way too little or if we train too hard for the amount we are eating then that will have a profound effect on our bone health.

The 1000 calories that are left need to go to physiological functions, such as the liver to work for the kidney and the skin, for the brain and the eyes… all these processes cost energy.

If there is not enough energy left then these processes are going to slow down. 

If we have continuous low energy availability… it is strongly associated with bone health, so there will be a decrease in bone formation. 

The heavier we train, the more we need to eat to fuel the activity, therefore we need to ensure we are eating enough

For women, perimenopause changes how estrogen works and then a slow decrease in estrogen until it eventually flatlines.  The decrease in estrogen will cause an increase in bone resorption, in other words, an increase in bone loss.

There are two ways in which we can enter low energy availability:

  1. Decrease in food intake and keep physical activity the same.
  2. Increasing physical activity but not increasing food intake.

Keeping in mind that the body gives preference to activities… for example, I eat 1500 calories but my energy expenditure so that’s what I train is not 1500 it is 2000.

The body will still spend that energy on training, regardless.

Estimated Energy Requirements

The estimated energy requirements for active older people must be lower because they’ve got a decrease in energy expenditure.

These are ballpark figures of estimated energy requirements according to your age group. 

Low Carbohydrate Availability

Carbohydrates have been a controversial nutrient for years… a lot of people think by cutting out their carbs they can decrease their weight… but really it’s not like that at all.

A low carbohydrate diet will increase your risk of going into a low energy availability state… if not done well. To decrease your carbohydrate intake healthily, you need to add something else to your diet to get the kilojoules that you require. 

Different studies show us that low carb availability on its own without energy availability, without that part of the equation will also affect bone and bone loss.

The provision of carbohydrates decreases the bone reabsorption rate and decreases your post-exercise bone turnover…. In other words, it is very important to consume carbohydrates. 

The carbohydrates that you consume need to be whole grain so that we increase our fiber intake. 

  • 45% to 65% of total calories OR 5-7 g/kg/d (0.08–0.1 oz/lb/d) for general training needs
  • Endurance athletes: 7 – 10 g/kg/d (0.1-0.2 oz/lb/d)
  • Ultra-endurance events: 10 g/kg/d (0.2 oz/lb/d)
  • CHO during exercise > 1 hour → 30 – 60 g CHO (1-2 oz) per hour (food or beverage)
  • CHO after hard exercise (> 90 minutes) → ↑ recovery

For athletes who train hard and daily: 

  • Immediately post-exercise period> 1.5 g/kg (0.02 oz/lb)
  • Additional CHO 2 hours later → ↑ muscle glycogen synthesis

Protein Intake 

Protein is highly important because it is the matrix in which the bone will deposit calcium and phosphorus. It is recommended that athletes consume more protein than the general population. 

Acid Ash

For a long time, there was this hypothesis called the acid ash hypothesis…

People said that if you consume extreme amounts of protein, that will cause higher acidity levels, this is true as high protein diets do cause high acidity. 

To counteract this the body must use one of its buffer nutrients like calcium to make the acidity alkaline, the body does this on its own so there is no need to take alkaline powders or any of those types of products. 

The hypothesis said that if we consume high amounts of protein, because of the acidity, the body will withdraw calcium from the bone to try and buffer the situation. 

This hypothesis is flawed in the sense that when people have higher protein intake, there was an increased amount of calcium that was absorbed from the protein intake. 

The jury’s out. It seems that protein intake might actually be beneficial for the bone because it’s an important part of the bone structure.

The indication is usually to have one to 1.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body mass. And then with the emphasis on the timing, to rather have a regular intake of smaller amounts of protein. 

We should try to get to about 20 to 25 grams of protein per meal that we eat, and rather have at least four to five meals per day. 

20 grams of protein equates to about 90 grams of meat or chicken or fish. The amount required is about the size of your palm.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is extremely important as we get older because as we age we become less efficient in making our vitamin D from the sun, this is because of kidney and skin functions. 

By not intaking an adequate amount of vitamin D we can experience musculoskeletal pain and a decrease in muscle strength.

The easiest way to obtain vitamin D is from the sun:

  • Moderately fair-skinned people → walk with arms exposed for 6-7 minutes mid-morning or mid-afternoon in summer.
  • Bare skin exposure is feasible for 7-40 minutes at noon in winter, on most days.
  • Dark skinned, indoor training or training at low latitudes → assess vitamin D status.

Good food sources: oily fish (e.g. tuna, sardines, mackerel), cod liver oil, liver, eggs, cheese, and margarine.

  • At-risk population (Those who train indoors, who are extremely fair-skinned, those who don’t get as much sun because of where they live) → blood test to see what levels are before supplementing.

Vitamin D supplementation:

• 600IU/day for people aged <70 years.

• 800 IU/ day for people aged > 70 years.

Dermal Calcium Losses

During high volume or very prolonged exercise, especially if it’s in hot and humid conditions, there is an increased rate of sweat loss. 

There is calcium in the sweat, so therefore we have to increase what we call dermal calcium losses.

An increase in the loss of calcium means there is less calcium in the serum, in the blood.

As soon as calcium decreases in the blood, the body triggers a hormone called PTH.

The job of this hormone is to try and get calcium back into the blood, it does this by withdrawing calcium from your bone to normalize the blood levels of calcium again.

Over the long term, this can lead to a decrease in bone health.

Studies state that if you consume 1000mg of calcium before extended periods of training in hot conditions you can keep the blood calcium levels neutral.

Calcium Content of Foods:

Remember to eat enough energy, it’s important that if you go on low carbohydrate diets to understand you’re harming your bone health. 

High protein can benefit bone health but just make sure that if you consume high protein you do include some dietary calcium.

Vitamin D is important, so get into the sunlight, or have levels tested if you are unsure. 

Understand that dermal calcium losses can be important. So take calcium in around your training sessions, especially before exercise. 

If you need to supplement sometimes it’s okay because as we covered at the beginning of this article… there are a lot of nutrients involved in bone. So it does sometimes make sense that if you’re taking a supplement to take a multivitamin-mineral supplement rather than individually try and manipulate nutrients. 

Remember, the greatest at risk for a poor micronutrient status is those of us that restrict our energy intake, or that are busy applying severe weight loss practices.

Join us for a free online presentation of the…

The Faster Beyond 50 Masterclass

…and discover how you can run well (and faster) as you get olderwithout training more or harder than you currently are, all while avoiding injury. 

If it feels like you’re training harder than ever but not running the paces you’d like to be running or if you’re constantly tired, fatigued or running in some sort of pain, then this is specifically for you.

Save your seat in this training now…

Menopause is a natural part of aging and marks the end of the female reproductive years…

With the number of menopausal women worldwide estimated to reach 1.1 billion by 2025, you’d think that we would be able to talk openly about menopause, but this fundamental part of a woman’s life is still stigmatized.

According to Dr. Stacy Sims, all women experience these menopausal changes, but continuing to run puts you ahead of the pack in terms of coping with the menopausal symptoms.

On that note, let’s have a look at what happens to your body during menopause and the effects running will have on the dreaded menopausal symptoms…

What Happens To Your Body During Menopause

Menopause is defined as a complete year without menstrual bleeding.

During perimenopause, your ovaries make less of the hormone estrogen. When this decrease occurs, your menstrual cycle starts to change, until eventually, it stops. 

Physical changes can also occur as the symptoms of menopause, these changes are due to the hormonal changes your body is experiencing.

These symptoms may vary according to which stage of menopause you are in. The three stages are perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause.

Estrogen and progesterone are the primary female hormones related to reproduction. 

When ovarian function declines with age, ovulation doesn’t occur regularly. This leads to irregular or missed periods.

Eventually, the ovaries stop ovulating altogether, and periods stop completely. This results in lower levels of estrogen and progesterone production by your ovaries.

It’s important to remember this is a normal process.

Menopause requires no medical treatment. Instead, treatments that are on offer focus on relieving your signs and symptoms…

Menopause Symptoms

Here are some of the symptoms of menopause that will affect your running, they should certainly not stop you from continuing to run… we will get to the reason why in a little bit…

  1. Hot Flushes
  2. Weight Gain
  3. Emotional Changes
  4. Insomnia
  5. Night Sweats
  6. Incontinence
  7. Slowing Down

Hot Flushes

These are a sudden feeling of heat and sweating in the upper part of your body, on your neck chest, and face… no one knows exactly what causes them.

According to this scientific paper: Hot flushes affect up to 80% of women during the menopausal transition and persist for 5 or more years past menopause in up to a third of women.

The cause of these common symptoms is currently unknown, although alterations in thermoregulation probably play a role.

Several recent studies have suggested that hot flushes may be associated with higher levels of oxidative stress as well as adverse vascular changes during menopause.

According to this study

Hot flashes and night sweats involve the central thermoregulatory system in the hypothalamus and are mediated through autonomic control of the peripheral vasculature and sweat glands.

Therefore, the onset intensity of the hot flushes and night sweats may represent differences in underlying dysfunction in central and autonomic mechanisms and may involve other brain regions associated with sleep and mood.

The characterization of autonomic function associated with the expression of hot flashes and night sweats has not been fully characterized. However, heart rate decreases in menopause and sleep-related decreases in blood pressure are not observed in women who experience hot flashes with insomnia.

In addition to menopausal hormone treatments, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors also are effective in reducing hot flashes in women. 

Weight Gain

Many women going through menopause gain weight around their abdomen… This is due to the declining estrogen levels, age-related loss of muscle tissue, and lifestyle factors such as following a bad diet and a lack of exercise.

Emotional Changes

Mood swings… Anxiety… Depression …

These symptoms can be scary for a lot of women –  Especially if they feel like they are on this journey alone and when society doesn’t allow us to talk about these as actual symptoms of menopause and rather just something women are dealing with and “being emotional”. 

The change is real and physiological…

According to the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), close to 23 percent of women go through mood changes before, during, or after menopause.

Up to 70 percent of women describe irritability and being annoyed at things that never used to bother them before as one of the main emotional symptoms of perimenopause. 

This next stat is very real and should be taken very seriously.

Depression affects up to 1 out of every 5 women going through menopause. 

Insomnia

Insomnia is the inability to sleep. It can also contribute to mood changes, as well as weight gain, high blood pressure, and even in some cases diabetes.

40-50 percent of women experience sleep disturbances during menopause.

Night Sweats

Simply put, night sweats refer to excess sweating during the night.

For women going through menopause, night sweats are intense hot flashes that occur at night, they can drench your clothes and sheets (not related to an overheated environment) and disturb sleep which in turn affects mood and recovery.

Incontinence

Urinary incontinence (UI) is also known as loss of bladder control or involuntary urinary leakage.

It is a common problem in the female population with prevalence rates varying between 10% and 55% in 15- to 64-year-old women.

Urinary incontinence is extremely common but not normal.

For menopausal women, it’s not just loss of strength but also changes in ligaments and other connective tissues composition

In this article, we provide An Expert’s Guide To Dealing With Leaking Urine While Running

Last but not least, if you are already a runner, this is a symptom you’ll notice and most probably one of the reasons you are reading this article… 

Slowing Down

The number one reason for slowing down is the loss of lean muscle mass. This loss starts as early as your 30s and you can lose around 3% of muscle mass each decade.

Research suggests that a lack of the correct nutrition, decreased muscle synthesis, fluctuating hormones, loss of muscle strength, and not enough recovery time – also contribute to a slower running pace. 

BUT…

With the right training framework consisting of strength training, recovery, consistency, nutrition, and intensity/pace training, women going through menopause can run faster than they ever did before.

How To Run Faster Through Menopause

5 Reasons Why You Should Continue Running Through Menopause

Something to remember: all the benefits that you would gain from running that positively affect your physical and mental wellbeing still apply. 

  1. Running Makes Your Bones Healthy 

Our bone mass peaks around the age of 30 and we lose a little every year, there’s a sudden surge in that loss once menopause is reached. 

The goal would be to start early so that the decline isn’t dramatic. 

Note: IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO START!

Doing physical activity such as running brings a lot of advantages but one of the amazing benefits that you get for free, when you train regularly is good bone health. 

Good bone health implies a little bit of strength, but also bone mineral density. Our bones support us and allow us to move. Our bones also store minerals such as calcium and phosphorous, which help keep our bones strong, and release them into the body when we need them for other uses.

Bones require a load on them to absorb that calcium and get stronger. Yes, running is placing a load on your bones but your bones require a multi-directional load on them to really help that mineral bone density. This is where resistance training comes into play. 

Bone Health: What You NEED To Know As You Get Older

  1. Strength Training Builds Muscle

In the same way, as our bone mass reduces as we age, we lose muscle mass too. 

As we reach around the age of 50, we notice that there’s this exponential loss of strength and that’s really why we start getting slower as a runner.

Resistance training can reverse some of the aging processes and increase your lean muscle mass. Pushing your body against a form of resistance can be bodyweight, bands, weights, etc… 

If you want to stay injury-free and keep running to and through menopause, then strength training is non-negotiable.

Strength training is extremely important for runners, for two main reasons. The first is for injury prevention, and the second is to improve your running performance and make you a faster and more efficient runner

The key however is in the type of strength training that you are doing… The type we are talking about that is vital for peri- and postmenopausal women is resistance training and high-intensity interval training. 

Resistance Training: Increases muscle strength by making your muscles work against a weight or force. 

Strong female runner

Join us for a free online presentation of the…

The Running Through Menopause Masterclass

…and discover how you can run well (and faster) as you get olderwithout training more or harder than you currently are, all while avoiding injury. 

If it feels like you’re training harder than ever but not running the paces you’d like to be running or if you’re constantly tired, fatigued or running in some sort of pain, then this is specifically for you.

Save Your Seat In This Training Now…

  1. Running Improves Your Mood

A lot of research has proven that when you run or even walk, endorphins and serotonin are released in your body, these are the chemicals in your brain that improve your mood. 

Mood changes are so prevalent and running is extremely helpful with this all around. 

Fresh air, Vitamin D (if running outside in a country with the sun), and of course the physiological benefit…

Research has revealed that endorphins may not have too much to do with a runner’s high but in fact, it points to another type of molecule: endocannabinoids.

These act on your endocannabinoid system. This is the same system that’s affected by tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active compound in cannabis.

Like endorphins, exercise releases endocannabinoids into the bloodstream. If you feel euphoric or deeply relaxed after a run, these molecules are the reason why.

  1. Running May Reduce Menopause Symptoms

There’s growing evidence that the horrible symptoms experienced from menopause may be reduced by running in some women…

It has been proven that running can improve the quality of your sleep and help you sleep through the night. Some, but not all, research studies have shown that exercise training can reduce the frequency of hot flushes experienced during menopause as well as improve the symptoms of anxiety.

Note: This science is not full proof and this is not a blanket approach for all women.

  1. Running Is a Fun Way To Meet People

Making friends as an adult can be difficult. Add the emotional rollercoaster of menopause to the mix… Maybe even a pandemic and it’s a big challenge…

Joining a running group or teaming up with a running buddy is an easy way to make friends and meet new people, They may just help make this journey a bit easier for you.

In summary, It’s not always easy to get out there and go for a run, but even if you head out for a short walk… it’s always worth it.

There is no doubt about it, your body changes with each new decade you enter, and this affects your running…

It is well documented that our physiology starts letting us down way before we’d like it to. Many studies show peak performance ages to be between 20-35 years of age for most sports and the physiological decline imminent thereafter.

Many people think getting older means that you need to cut back on physical activity to avoid injuries… This is not truly leading an active lifestyle after the age of 50 keeps your muscles and bones strong, your mind sharp, and can add years to your life.

Let’s discover why running over the age of 50 is good for you as well as the elements that come with running in your 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond.

Running Is Good For You As You Get Older

Studies suggest that running over 50 years old, whether you are experienced or not, is a great way to improve cardiovascular fitness. 

What’s even more impressive is that middle-aged, beginner runners will gain the same benefits as experienced, middle-aged runners. 

Some of the benefits of running in your 50s and beyond include healthier muscle mass, a stronger heart, and less body fat.

Check out this fantastic article we wrote a while back about: The Race Against Age: How To Slow Down The Slowing Down

Health Benefits Of Running In Your 50’s & Beyond

  1. Cardiovascular Health

According to the Journal of American College Of Cardiology: Running can decrease your risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 45%. 

This is due to HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol “good cholesterol” and improved blood pressure. 

  1. Improved Quality Of Sleep

In our modern lifestyles, sleep is quite hard to come by. The number of hours of sleep but more importantly the quality of sleep that we have is particularly poor.

Running boosts the serotonin hormone, which is involved in your sleep-wake cycle. This may improve the brain’s ability to metabolize serotonin and regulate sleep.

The benefits of getting a good quality night’s sleep include:

  • Improved ability to build muscle & repair tissue
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Balanced hormones
  • Water reabsorption
  • Improved concentration
  1. Better Bone Density

Running brings a lot of advantages but one of the amazing benefits that you get for free, when you train regularly is good bone health. 

Good bone health implies a little bit of strength, but also bone mineral density. Our bones support us and allow us to move.

Our bones also store minerals such as calcium and phosphorous, which help keep our bones strong, and release them into the body when we need them for other uses.

This is not as effective as running on its own vs running and strength training.

  1. Lowered Risk Of Chronic lifestyle- Related Diseases

According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, running helps reduce your risk of chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, many types of cancer, depression, anxiety, and dementia.

Now that we know that running when you’re over 50 is good and comes with a lot of benefits, let’s have a look at what running when you are over the age of 50 entails…

Why Is Running Harder As You Get Older?

  1. Your body needs more recovery time in your 50s & 60s and beyond.

What we have found, particularly with athletes that move into their 50’s and more so into their 60’s is that we can get a lot better results on a lot less training than before because the recovery times are slower and so that extra recovery time that we add in actually allows runners to get better.

If we use Coach Lindsey Parry’s father as a really good example, once he finally started listening to Lindsey. His original investment in my degree didn’t seem to be enough to trigger him to take any advice. But eventually, he was sort of forced into taking advice.

We moved him from running his traditional seven days a week, which he’d been running for four decades; to running four days a week, and over the next seven years, his dad got faster and faster. Over seven years until he ran at the age of 62, he started running times in races that he was running in his early 50s.

Finding the right balance is important in your 50s.

Since then he’s kind of steadily gotten slower and slower, but really what I’m trying to say, it’s about finding the right balance for you. 

So that you can either just slow down or reduce the rate of slowing down or in the short term get some more improvement.

The only way you can do it is by getting the right mix between training and recovery and that probably doesn’t mean training more.

It means training a little bit less and adding some strength training into the mix.

  1. A decrease in muscle mass, strength & power

Over time our muscle mass decreases and along with this, there is a more rapid loss of Type II (“fast fibers”).

So, what this means is that there is a slight change in the muscle mass we have from a more slow-twitch fiber, which essentially means less speed.

There is also a change in the neuromuscular connection between the brain and muscle fibers which means “messages sent from the brain to muscles” are less frequent and less efficient, also having an effect on muscle contractions as well as proprioception (which affects the increase in the risk of falling)

More than just the change in muscle fiber is the loss of lean muscle mass. 

This is generally linear through your 30s and 40s from 50s the loss becomes more exponential and therefore this is possibly one of the main reasons for slowing down, and struggling with usual activities of daily living. We are asking our bodies to do the same amount of work with less capacity due to this loss of lean muscle mass…

  1. As we get older, we see a decline in maximum heart rate. 

Most age-related HRmax formulas are sufficient for a general idea for the general population however there is a lot of variance with these formulas and they are not very dependable at an individual level, and they get less reliable with more aging populations.

It is important for you to figure out your HRmax with the use of a laboratory test or maximum exhaustive field-based test. This is why we prefer to use threshold HR rather than max HR.

  1.  A Reduction in VO2peak (Cardiovascular)

As a result of the decline in max heart rate, we start to see a decline in peak VO2 in athletes as they get older.

It could, therefore, be assumed that with the decline in VO2peak as you age, your running performance could also decline.

  1.  A decrease in tendon elasticity & increased stiffness (Musculoskeletal)

This decrease in tendon elasticity could place the older endurance runner at a higher risk for musculoskeletal injuries.

And so, the loading and prescription, as well as strength training of a runner over the age of 50, is key to ensuring the longevity and health of the runner.

Join us for a free online presentation of the…

The Faster Beyond 50 Masterclass

…and discover how you can run well (and faster) as you get olderwithout training more or harder than you currently are, all while avoiding injury. 

If it feels like you’re training harder than ever but not running the paces you’d like to be running or if you’re constantly tired, fatigued or running in some sort of pain, then this is specifically for you.

Save your seat in this training now…


Five Tips To Start Running After 50: How To Take Up Running Later In Life

We’re going to share with you five tips and really important things that you need to take care of to make sure that you can run well beyond your 50s…

It’s never too late to start running and in fact, we always tell people if you start later… it just means you can improve well into your twilight years.

If you’re thinking about starting running…  then now is the time.

We’re going to order them from least important to most important to ensure you read to the END of the article!;) 

Five Tips For Starting To Run In Your 50’s

5: Cross-Training

Cross-training is your friend when you start running in your 50s because you do need to start slowly and so the cross-training will help you to reduce some of that frustration and allow you to maybe push yourself a little bit harder than you may want to or to feel like you are getting in some exercise.

Cross-training includes nonimpact cardiovascular exercises such as swimming, stationary cycling, or cycling, and some rowing even the elliptical.

These exercises don’t contribute to the load that you’re placing on particularly your joints, tendons, and ligaments while running, but contribute to building your aerobic capacity.

4: Don’t run more than four days a week

When you’re starting out running in your 50s you want to run between three to four days per week, maximum; and that will allow you to give your body the time that it needs to recover from each time that you got out there and put that stress on your tendons, muscles, ligaments, and joints.

I know I am making it sound like running is bad for you…. It’s not, it’s an amazing exercise for you, particularly as you get older.

But we do want to make sure that you can enjoy those fruits without breaking down with an injury.

Remember that recovery is extremely important because you only get the benefit of your training when you recover. 

3: Build up slowly.

You do want to build up slowly,  in fact, the slower that you can stand to build up, the less likely you are to get sick and injured.

This will result in you being more likely to start loving running in a couple of weeks, and the more likely you are to stick it out and turn it into something that you do well into your advanced years.

That again is where the cross-training comes in.

While you’re building this running slowly, you can then throw in a little bit of harder cycling, rowing, and elliptical things that are much less likely to cause injury.

2: Strength Training

If you are just starting, doing exercise full stop, your muscles will have atrophied over years and that atrophy will have accelerated in your middle, the mid to late 40s.

It will accelerate even faster now that you are in your 50s.

Strength training becomes incredibly important to allow your body to cope with this new exercise regime that you’re going to do.

Once you start getting really into it two, or three months down the line, it’s going to help you to become a much better runner, protect your body from injury, and will help delay the loss of performance from the loss of lean muscle mass because you will be combatting the natural effects of aging with strength training

1: You need to walk before you run.

That does not mean that you have to go out and you’re not allowed to run at all.

Remember: Walking is not a weakness!

It means that when you start,  walking reduces the load and stress running causes, but still allows you to gain that aerobic benefit and allows you to go further for longer at less cost to your body. 

The running stress is greater than the walking but that gradual change from walking to running is what’s going to allow you to get into this sport and reap the benefits that you should be reaping.

When you start, go out for between 15 and 20 minutes at a time and do something along the lines of a four or five-minute walk, followed by a one minute run, followed by a 4-5 minute walk, followed by a minute run, and so on until you get to between 15 and 20 minutes, and every one to two weeks, depending on how easy that is and how well you take to it, you will then reduce the walking increase the running.

In week two, and week three, it may look more like three minutes of walking, two minutes of running, three minutes of walking two minutes of running, and every week to two, you just decrease the walking by minute, increase the running by a minute and within eight to 12 weeks you will find yourself being able to run five kilometers without needing to walk at all and then from there the world is your oyster.

Running After 50: Tips To Run Faster As You Get Older

Intermittent fasting is currently one of the hottest topics in the health & fitness community. It has become increasingly popularized by a variety of people from medical doctors, to influencers to ‘wannabe’ internet health nuts. 

Many recent studies have proven that excessive within-day energy deficits hurt health & performance, even when controlling for daily caloric intake. These studies validate not fasting before training, for males and females.

In other words… by intermittent fasting, by restricting when you consume food…

Women are experiencing menstrual dysfunction, suppressed resting metabolic rates & lower estrogen levels.

Men are experiencing suppressed resting metabolic rates, higher cortisol levels, and lower testosterone levels. 

Let’s dive into intermittent fasting…

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is a strategy in which you intentionally alternate a period of eating with a period of fasting. 

(You do this already when you sleep, but intermittent fasting expands on your normal fasting window)

As athletes ourselves we know that we are always keeping an eye out for the next edge that we can gain over our competitors.  

That’s where intermittent fasting came into play…

How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

All Intermittent fasting strategies are essentially based on choosing regular time periods to eat and fast.

Someone who is intermittent fasting might try eating only during an eight-hour period each day and fast for the rest. Someone else might choose to eat only one meal a day 3 days a week. 

What Intermittent Fasting Does To Your Body

Intermittent fasting works by prolonging the period when your body has burned through the calories consumed during your last meal and begins burning fat.

When fasting, your body moves through a fasting cycle, where a number of changes take place:

During the first few hours of eating a meal your blood sugar levels rise, this results in your body secreting insulin. The extra glucose is stored in your muscles as glycogen, this is your body’s primary source of energy and hormones such as Leptin (hunger-suppressing) and Ghrelin (stimulates hunger) shift.

Then, after a good few hours, your insulin & blood sugar levels start to drop, resulting in your body turning glycogen into glucose (energy) 

Your body will slowly run out of liver glycogen stores and look for another energy source… say hello to lipolysis. (fat cells break down to be used as energy)

After not eating for 18 hours+ your glycogen stores in the liver have been depleted, and your body begins breaking down protein and fat for energy instead.

Your body will now be in ketosis. (Using fat for energy)

Being in Ketosis will give you a decreased appetite, weight loss, fatigue, bad breath, and increased levels of ketone bodies in the blood.

If you haven’t eaten a meal by now (48hrs after food), this state is referred to as the “Starvation state”.  Here, your insulin and BHB levels will rise, your kidneys will generate sugar as energy for your brain, and your branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are reduced to help conserve muscle tissue.

After reading what your body goes through during an intermittent fast, it may all seem a bit confusing… 

In a nutshell…

You should not fast before training.  Let’s have a look at recent studies that prove this statement to be true.

Intermittent Fasting & Running: Why You Shouldn’t

Study Number 1:

This study proves that within-day energy deficits (fasting) can hurt health and performance, especially for female athletes. 

Controlling overall daily caloric intake and excessive fasting can have negative impacts on people’s hormones and metabolism. (Impacting bone health & physical adaptation) 

Low energy availability (LEA) is when energy expenditure through running and lifestyle is mismatched with energy intake, leading to short-term or long-term caloric deficits, which provide you with health issues.

This diagram taken from the study shows us how low substrate and nutrient availability negatively affects cognitive and physical function and health as well as performance both directly and indirectly.

LEA causes endocrine changes that increase the risk for reproductive and endothelial dysfunction, dyslipidemia, gastrointestinal problems, reduced appetite, injuries, impaired bone health, and immunological suppression. 

Study Number 2: 

This study looks particularly into the effects of within-day deficits for female athletes. 

25 female athletes on the competitive club level between 18 and 38 years old were included in the study. 

Firstly the females went through tests related to menstrual function and athletic performance while recording activity and food intake in detail. Within-day deficits were classified as any 1-hour window where the energy deficit exceeded 300 kcal. 

Results:

  • Athletes with menstrual dysfunction had higher amounts of within-day deficits, even though total daily energy intake was not statistically different.
  • Higher within-day deficits led to suppressed resting metabolic rate and lower estrogen levels.
  • Within-day deficits led to higher cortisol levels (stress)
From those results we can understand that: 
  1. The reduced metabolic rate from energy deficiency may keep body composition stable, even as the endocrine system changes and health is impacted. 
  2. Within-day deficits can account for menstrual dysfunction due to hourly hormone pulses during different phases of the menstrual cycle. 

Study Number 3:

In 2018 a study was conducted.

Subjects consisted of 46 (18-50-year-old) male cyclists, triathletes, and long-distance runners. All subjects were categorized as trained or well trained.  31 subjects (67.4%) were included in the final data analysis.

In this group of men, 65% had suppressed resting metabolic rates and, despite similar EI and 24-hr EB compared with subjects with normal resting metabolic rate, they spent more time in a severe energy deficit and had larger single-hour energy deficit, which was associated with higher cortisol levels and lower testosterone: cortisol ratio.

EI= Energy Intake, EB = energy intake − total energy expenditure) or energy availability.

Study Number 4:

In 2017 a study was conducted to estimate and compare within-day energy balance in athletes with normal menstruation and menstrual dysfunction with similar 24-hour energy availability/energy balance. 

The study also investigated whether within-day energy deficiency is associated with resting metabolic rate and an increase in cortisol.  

Results: 

1. Female athletes with menstrual dysfunction had higher amounts of within-day deficits

2. Higher within day deficits led to suppressed resting metabolic rate & lower estrogen levels

3. Higher within day deficits led to higher cortisol levels

Study Number 5:

This study was conducted to show us that even though Ramadan isn’t a perfect representation of Intermittent fasting, there are still key lessons we can learn. 

Ramadan is a religious period in which people are unable to consume food or liquid during daylight hours. (From sunrise to sunset)

It is key to note that the results are slightly skewed as people observing Ramadan are not allowed to consume liquid. 

Two Algerian professional soccer teams (55 men) were studied. 

Field tests of physical and soccer performance were collected before, in the end, and 2 weeks after Ramadan in 2004. Players were queried on sleeping habits and personal perception of training and match performance.

The study found that performance declined. Speed, agility, dribbling speed, and endurance was reduced during Ramadan. Similarly, just three days of intermittent fasting during Ramadan significantly reduced speed and power ability. 

Nearly 70% of the players thought that their training and performance were adversely affected during the fast.

Study Number 6:

Dr. Stacy Sims, author of the groundbreaking book ROAR and the movement Women Are Not Small Men

Dr. Sims explains that intermittent fasting disrupts a neuropeptide called kisspeptin, (responsible for sex hormones & endocrine & reproductive function) which also plays a role in maintaining healthy glucose levels, appetite regulation, and body composition. 

The results: Disrupted hormone production, potentially causing health issues such as menstruation cessation, weakened bones, and impaired recovery.

Study Number 7:

This study proves that intermittent fasting depresses the thyroid and increases cortisol, causing an increase in belly fat. It also causes a decrease in fat burning and an increase in energy deficiency = decrease in performance & muscle breakdown.

Cyclists who ate no breakfast, (intermittent fasting) were studied and it was found that performance declined by 3%. A lot of people choose to fast intermittently to burn fat and lose weight… this study proves that the cyclists who ate no breakfast experienced a DECREASE in fat burning.

Now that we have had a look at 7 different studies validating not intermittent fasting before running, let’s have a look at some key takeaways. 

By fasting as a woman, you could cause yourself menstrual dysfunction, suppressed resting metabolic rates, lower estrogen levels, compromised training adaptations, and performance levels.

By fasting as a man you could cause yourself suppressed resting metabolic rates, higher cortisol levels, lower testosterone levels, decreased performance and decreased fat burning.

The point is that you need to consume sufficient energy and nutrients in your pre and post-training meals. 

These pre and post-training meals need to consist of a good amount of healthy protein and good carbohydrates. Research shows that eating 20-40g of protein every 3-4 hours provides a small advantage regarding muscle protein synthesis.

So many people are still getting the message that intermittent fasting and even the Keto diet are what you need to do to gain mental focus, high performance, and weight loss…. 

Now that we know it’s all not true and that you most certainly should not be fasting as an athlete…. Is it ever okay to fast?

When Is It Okay To Intermittent Fast?

For the people who don’t exercise and don’t lead active lifestyles, for the people struggling with metabolic diseases… then it can be useful to fast, bearing in mind that while the attraction of losing weight by controlling your hunger sounds good, there are some long-term and irreversible side effects of intermittent fasting.

But if you are already running and adding intermittent fasting into your strategy, then think again as it does more harm to your body than good. 

Check out this video where Coach Linsey Parry chats to Brad Brown about eating breakfast before a run. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtkJ2QWlDx4 

Just a few months ago you were able to run a sub 48 min 10km, and then all of a sudden it hit you. Fatigue, running in pain, a constant battle with your weight, and a drastic decline in your endurance. 

Running simply feels like hard work. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way.

I often get asked by peri- and postmenopausal women if menopause signals the end of their running…

…and the short answer is no.

You can continue running during menopause. By modifying your training routine, you can continue running longer and stronger through perimenopause well into post-menopause. In fact, numerous scientific studies have proved that running can actually help relieve menopausal symptoms.

I’ll dig more into those benefits a little later in this article, but first, let’s talk about menopause.

Why do we talk about “it” in a whisper? Why are we not shouting out and celebrating that we’ve reached this milestone in our lives? We’ve ended our menstrual cycles, no more PMS! Let’s change the narrative! Let’s stop society from making women feel like they’re losing something. 

It’s not uncommon for postmenopausal women to feel empowered partly because of the biological changes that take place in menopause and because of the point in their lives when menopause occurs.

We Do However Need To Talk About Menopause & Running

Experts state that not talking openly about menopause is a mistake, the more openly women chat about how they are feeling and what they are going through, the less stress they will feel as they traverse the physical and emotional changes that come with menopause and the more likely they are to realize that they are not alone.

So, on that note, before we dive into how you can keep running well during menopause, let’s touch on the different stages of menopause so that we know how it affects your running…  

The Different Stages Of Menopause

Menopause can be broken down into 3 distinct phases: 

  1. Perimenopause

This is the transitional period before menopause. Perimenopause can last for around 4 years but can be anywhere from months, for some women up to 8 years! When you go a full 12 months without a period, menopause has begun.

During this stage, a woman’s estrogen levels will drop. Before the estrogen levels drop (and then flat-line completely) they (along with progesterone and other hormones) fluctuate. 

They no longer have a cyclic action like they used to and this is the reason for symptoms like hot flushes, irregular periods, heavy periods, insomnia, night sweats, etc…

  1. Menopause

Menopause is defined as a single point in time. 

It is the point in which you have not had a period in 12 months. Everything before that is considered perimenopause, everything thereafter is menopause.

  1. PostMenopause

A woman is post-menopausal during the years after menopause when she is no longer ovulating. This is when Estrogen and other hormones continue to get lower until eventually flatline

There are tons of women out there who are worried that running can bring on early menopause. 

We hear countless questions like: “Is it safe to run during menopause?” or “How do I run during menopause?” And even, “How will my athletic performance be affected by menopause?”

Let’s deal with one of the biggest misconceptions about running concerning menopause… 

Does Running Cause Early Menopause?

It is definitely a valid concern but the truth is that running does not cause early menopause.

The amount of physical activity, including running, that women undertake is not linked to their risk of early menopause, according to the largest study ever to conduct this investigation.

Early menopause happens when a woman’s menstruation cycle ends before the age of 45 and it can happen naturally or as a side effect of various treatments. Some reasons include premature ovarian failure, cancer treatments, and surgeries to remove the ovaries. 

With all of that said, let’s dive into what happens to your body when you run during menopause.

Strong female runner

Join us for a free online presentation of the…

The Running Through Menopause Masterclass

…and discover how you can run well (and faster) as you get olderwithout training more or harder than you currently are, all while avoiding injury. 

If it feels like you’re training harder than ever but not running the paces you’d like to be running or if you’re constantly tired, fatigued or running in some sort of pain, then this is specifically for you.

Save Your Seat In This Training Now…

What Happens To A Runners Body During Menopause?

There is no doubt our bodies are changing during this phase of our lives, so it goes without saying that these changes are going to impact our running performance. 

Here are some of the things that will affect your running as you go through menopause:

  1. Slowing Down
  2. Weight Gain
  3. Incontinence
  4. Hot Flushes
  5. Night Sweats
  6. Insomnia
  7. Emotional Changes

Slowing Down

We get slower as we get older. There are several factors as to why this is the case but the first two are key. The first reason is due to a loss of strength and the second is hormonal fluctuation.

Firstly, we start to slow down because of a key loss of strength, essentially we start the aging process in our third decade of living, but when we get to around 50, We lose muscle mass as a natural function of aging. Therefore losing strength. 

Secondly, your hormones are out of control and eventually flatline – sounds a bit melodramatic. But from the female athletes we’ve worked with, we know that this is how they feel. 

When you are in perimenopause your hormones are fluctuating and there is no cyclical action, so eventually, they flatline, these hormones play an important part in your muscle synthesis, and as a result, your running performance. So that’s why we start to run slightly slower.

An important factor to consider is ‘Strength Training’ and it’s a topic we will delve into a bit later. If we don’t make time for strength training, we have a higher chance of getting injured, which is also a contributor to running a bit slower.

Weight Gain

Weight gain during menopause is very common. It occurs before and during menopause because of the drop in estrogen levels and because we become a bit more insulin resistant, this is the reason running doesn’t always help with weight loss anymore and why we tend to pick up that “belly fat”.

There is a big misconception out there about gaining weight during menopause because of age-related reductions in metabolism, but…

This is no longer true… A recent study released last year disproves this theory.  It states that our metabolisms (men & women) decline after age 60 by about 0.7 percent a year.

Effects Of Weight Gain On Your Running:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased energy expenditure

Incontinence

This is one that no one tells runners going through menopause about and one that people don’t really want to talk about, which is exactly why we’re talking about it. 

Urinary incontinence (UI) is also known as “loss of bladder control”. Many women experience this and think it’s normal. It’s NOT normal, it’s extremely common, not just in women going through menopause but can also be experienced due to other reasons… it should not be considered normal.

The loss of control can be very minor. You might only leak a few drops of urine when you laugh or run. The loss of control can also be major, you might experience a sudden urge to urinate, and being on a run (away from a bathroom) may result in an accident.

Urinary incontinence is very common but the good news is that is preventable if treated correctly.

If urinary incontinence is something you’re battling with, I’d highly suggest you see a physiotherapist that specializes in women’s health issues. Getting your UI under control will literally change your life and brings heaps of joy back into your running without the embarrassment of Urinary Incontinence. 

Hot Flushes

Anyone going through menopause knows that hot flashes/flushes are the absolute WORST!

Hot flashes are the most common symptom of perimenopause and menopause and are due to a misregulation in thermoregulation due to the fluctuation of hormones Estrogen & Progesterone.

There are no outright solutions to this… If I had the answer, I’d be sitting on my island drinking cocktails all day. 

So the only advice we can offer for hot flushes is this:

  • Layer up so you can remove layers
  • Always run with or near water sources 
  • Try and pick up triggers/trends for hot flashes so that you can avoid running in those, eg. afternoon heat

Night Sweats

Night sweats are when you experience excess sweating during the night. Night sweats are one of the most common and intense symptoms of menopause, with two-thirds of women experiencing them.

They can be so severe that you wake up and can’t get back to sleep.

Not having a good night’s sleep means you have a slower recovery time from your runs. Interrupted sleep and lack of sleep have been proven to increase injury risk, illness risk (less than 7-8 hours!). 

Also when we’re sleeping there’s a release of specific hormones like growth hormone and testosterone which aid muscle growth and muscle synthesis.

How To Prevent Night Sweats:

  • Choose breathable fabrics (Pj’s & sheets).
  • Make your bedroom cooler.
  • Drink a small glass of cold water to lower your body temperature before heading to bed.

Insomnia

You can’t fall asleep, you can’t stay asleep and you’re certainly not getting enough sleep.

Sleeping (or not-sleeping) with menopause: 

A normal night starts with me feeling tired, crawling into my comfy bed, and falling asleep. Only to wake up again. My mind is running. Wide awake. Hot flush. Need the bathroom. Not comfortable. Bonus: Hot flush number 2! Kicking the covers off. Trapped in my covers. Finally, Sleep. Wait. It’s time to wake up already. Time to run…..what!  I’m supposed to Run??

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that regular exercise, like running, can improve the quality of your sleep and help you sleep through the night.

It may sound like a difficult task but running will make a world of difference to your sleep pattern and your sleep pattern will make a world of difference to your running. 

There is an important release of hormones when we sleep that aid our recovery as a runner and if we’re not sleeping well, it’s going to have a huge impact on our running.

I know it’s easier said than done, but getting to bed at a reasonable hour (before 10 pm) should always be the number 1 goal when it comes to sleep. Try and stay off devices like computers, TVs, or cellphones for at least an hour before heading to bed. 

Ensuring good sleep hygiene is important too. Make sure the room that you sleep in is cool and dark and that there aren’t any lights from TV’s or electronic devices. 

Emotional Changes

Going through menopause can often feel like a rollercoaster. One minute you’re feeling great, the next, not so much. Again, it’s important to know that this is normal and it will have an impact on your running. 

Some days you’ll feel like you can’t wait to head out for your run, others you’ll be dreading the fact that you need to lace up for a high-intensity track workout. I’ve worked with athletes that find themselves sitting in their car crying before going to work or before a run…

Be kind to yourself and don’t put yourself under pressure.

In the 1930s they used to put women into mental institutions when going through menopause… Not that long ago!

Thank goodness science has evolved and they have figured out that the mood swings and effects on women’s mental health (depression/anxiety) are due to the loss in estrogen affecting the movement of Troponin moving across the blood-brain barrier which affects serotonin levels.

Some of the emotional changes experienced by females undergoing perimenopause or menopause include: 

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Aggressiveness
  • Sadness
  • Mood changes
  • Depression

I would suggest that these aspects can help: exercise, eat healthily, find a calming self-practice for yourself (like yoga), avoid alcohol, and nurture your relationships with your family and friends.

However, seeking assistance from a medical practitioner/psychologist is key. As they can prescribe medication to assist in these times

Now that you understand the changes that are going to happen or the changes that are happening to your body as a runner during menopause … here’s how you should be training as a peri- or postmenopausal runner.

How To Adjust Your Training When Running Through Menopause

So now that we know what we’re dealing with as a peri- or postmenopausal runner, let’s dig into how we should be training. 

There are 5 specific areas that peri- and postmenopausal runners should be focusing on if they want to continue running pain and injury-free for years to come.

The first is recovery…

  1. Recovery For Menopausal Runners

Recovery is important across the board, but it becomes even more important as we get older. 

People often think that it’s when you’re running or when you’re doing that session, that you’re getting fitter or stronger. 

That is not the case. 

You only get that gain of fitness, when you’re recovering from doing that run. 

What’s essentially happening is as you’re running, there’s a bit of systemic failure and muscle breakdown.

The body breaks down, it doesn’t like what you put it through, so when it’s resting it makes itself stronger, and that’s how we get fitter and stronger.

(If you want to learn more about recovery and how it impacts your running then watch this video: Here)

In a nutshell, this is how it works…

During the run, your body breaks down, and then afterward, while you’re recovering it builds itself back to where it was and then some so that it’s not left wanting the next time you run. 

And that is exactly how you become fitter, faster and stronger. 

Ensuring you recover correctly allows you to show up at your next training session feeling even fresher & stronger than before.

As we get older though, we do need more recovery. 

We can’t train the same way we did in our 20s and 30s either, because when you’re in your 20s and 30s, your hormonal structure was so cyclic. Now as I mentioned, it’s all over the place.

A lot of scientific research has also been done to prove that women have an entirely different hormonal structure compared to men. So the way we should be training as females should be slightly different from the way men train. 

It is for this reason that we have to readjust the way that we train. A lot of that comes down to the way we structure our running training.

Many times what you leave out is more important than what you put into your run training.

REST is a four-letter word that most runners don’t want to hear, and should be seen as important as your interval session or long run

That is why in our experience here at Coach Parry, having worked with thousands of menopausal runners, the vast majority of menopausal runners thrive on no more than 4 days of running a week.

Rest days are as important as the days you run in your training plan.

That then leads us to the next question we get asked all the time: 

How do you know you’ve recovered sufficiently?

There are a couple of ways we like to monitor recovery. The first and easiest is subjective, asking yourself  “How do I feel?”

Are you constantly tired? Are your legs feeling heavy? Your answers should give clear indications as to if you are fully recovered. If you’re walking up a flight of stairs and you get to the top and your legs are heavy and you don’t feel good, then you’re not recovered.

The second is to track your resting heart rate daily. It’s important to note that you’re not chasing a specific number here, you’re more interested in the trend. 

If you notice a slight increase (approximately 4- 8 beats per minute) over a 2- 5 day period, that is a red flag. It could be your body not coping with the load, it could be stress, it could be an infection… So you should back off slightly with the intensity or take a rest day. 

If the increase is higher, that is a sign that you need to rest completely or risk heading towards overtraining, illness, and eventually injury.

That leads us nicely into the second area that runners going through menopause often get wrong…

  1. What pace should you run at when going through menopause?

This is the single biggest mistake we see runners that are going through menopause making and that is that they run their easy and long runs way too fast. 

I know that in today’s day and age, we’re all pressed for time. With demanding careers, busy families, and lives generally run to a tight schedule, it’s often very difficult to get time for ourselves. 

When we do get time for ourselves and head out for a run, we feel like we need to get the biggest bang for our buck for the time we’re putting in. 

If you’re not working hard or busting a lung, you’re not benefitting fully from the training you’re doing.  But now you also understand from RECOVERY that you don’t get the benefit in the session, it happens in recovery so why break yourself doing it.

To improve endurance we need to run in the correct “zone”. This refers to the intensity we run at. That’s where the body becomes more efficient (You become a better runner). 

This range is very wide though. You can run in the faster end of the range = lots more eccentric stress and load on the body or you can run on the slower end = with much less stress on the body. 

Recreational runners, males, and females are constantly trying to prove to themselves in their running sessions that they’re getting better.

So that begs the question, how easy is easy?

How Easy Is Easy On Your Easy & Long Runs?

Training at the correct pace is so important because when we are running in the correct zone, that essentially is when we are getting all the physiological adaptation that we need. 

Zones can differ in different theoretical models that you might look at, it might be a three-zone model, we work off of a five-zone model at Coach Parry.

Essentially, the zone is where you’re getting all the physiological adaptation that you need for endurance running. Physiological adaptation, meaning, your heart as a muscle, because the heart is a muscle that gets stronger, it gets bigger as well. So it becomes more efficient in circulating blood around your system. 

When you’re running within this zone, you can run towards the top end of that zone, which is a little bit faster, or the bottom end. When you’re running at the top end of that zone, you’re putting a lot of eccentric stress on your muscles. 

You can run at the bottom end of the zone and then there will be less of that load of eccentric contraction and less wear and tear on the body. You’re going to be getting exactly the same benefits as if you were running towards the top end of that zone. 

It’s also important to say that not every run should be easy. Do your easy run easy enough so that when it comes to doing the harder, higher intensity sessions, you’re good to go. 

If you’re running your easy runs easy enough, you’ll start seeing an immediate improvement in your running. 

The next area I’m going to cover may take a little bit longer to bear fruit, but it will have a huge, positive impact on your running longevity in menopause.

  1. Strength Training For Menopausal Runners

As we reach around the age of 50, we notice that there’s this exponential loss of strength and that’s really why we start getting slower as a runner.

Bone mineral density does not decrease due to loss of strength, it decreases due to estrogen no longer helping the bones absorb calcium…

BMD improves with resistance training.

During menopause, your estrogen is fluctuating and no longer plays the role of helping your bones to absorb calcium. Bones require a load on them to absorb that calcium and get stronger.  

Yes, running is placing a load on your bones but your bones require a multi-directional load on them to really help that mineral bone density. This is where resistance training comes into play. 

Resistance training can reverse some of the aging processes and increase your lean muscle mass. Pushing your body against a form of resistance can be Bodyweight, bands, weights, etc… The load on the bones from the resistance is what improves Bone mineral density.

If you want to stay injury-free and keep running to and through menopause, then strength training is non-negotiable.

(The good news is we’ve created a free strength training plan specifically for women who are wanting to run to and through menopause. You can download that plan by clicking here.)

The key however is in the type of strength training that you are doing…

The type we are talking about that is vital for peri- and postmenopausal women is resistance training and high-intensity interval training. 

These are important because you require the impact of resistance training for your bone mineral density. The reason high-intensity interval strength training is important is that when our estrogen starts to flatline, we start becoming a lot more insulin resistant. This contributes to women with menopause not being able to lose weight easily. 

  1. Menopause & Running Nutrition 

As a menopausal runner, nutrition is key because we don’t ever want to find ourselves with low energy availability. This is common because most females are trying to restrict diet due to weight gain. But this is actually counterproductive…   

Women have gotten the message they should always eat less, even when they’re moving more.  

We LOVE this article and couldn’t agree more!
Check it out!

We’ve spoken about better managing body composition and protecting bone health. Strength training and nutrition are there to help you manage these two and help you improve them as you’re going from perimenopause to menopause to post-menopause.

When we want to resynthesize muscle and have a good recovery, we need to have a good protein and carbohydrate intake to replenish muscle glycogen after running. Increasing your protein intake in this phase of your life is absolutely vital because when you increase your protein intake over 24 hours, it improves your muscle protein synthesis (rebuilding the muscle).

When you increase that protein intake, and you add resistance training, what this all does is increase your anabolic window, when you are exercising it’s catabolic for up to four hours. 

You should increase your protein intake over 24 hours, an easy way to do this is to increase your intake around your sessions by making sure that you’re taking good carbohydrates and protein sources after your training session. 

So 20 to 30 minutes after your training session, you should consume a good protein source, generally, not at the expense of other carbohydrates, you should ensure that you are still getting good carbs so that you don’t fall into low energy availability.

  1. Running Consistency & The Menopause

It’s easy to confuse consistency with discipline when we talk about running. In this case, we’re not talking about the discipline we need to get out on the roads or trails and run…

When we talk about consistency we mean to do the right things over and over for a prolonged period. 

The best way to understand consistency is to think of this consistency as a financial investment. When you save a little bit of money month after month, it started compounding the longer you invest.

Now apply the same thought process to your running. Basically what you would do is build layers upon layers.

Imagine there is a block in front of you, this block represents three weeks of training that you have managed to complete consistently. You do that again and you get another block in front of you. You’ve stuck to all four of the other pillars and you keep going on and on and on – Fantastic right? You end up getting stronger and stronger and you get to race day and everything works out incredibly. 


The converse is obviously also true… 

You’re not running your easy runs easy enough, which means you’re not recovering from all of your sessions. You’re also feeling tired so you give your strength training a skip because running is the most important part of your training, right?

You then wake up one morning with a sore knee but you head out anyway because you have a track session and before you know it you’re forced to miss a few weeks of running due to an injury.

When you come back to running you try and pick up where you left off and suddenly jump right back to where you were.  But you’re getting older, so you don’t bounce back the same way you used to. You’re still getting fitter, but now your entire structure is rickety and wobbly.

Now imagine an entirely new structure, where there are evenly placed gaps between the blocks.
There are gaps because there doesn’t have to be that consistency like in the first structure. 

You don’t want your structure to crumble, the goal is to build layer upon layer, time after time to get the training effects that we need.

That is what consistency can do for your running. 

Let me touch on the issue of hormone replacement therapy and running…

Does Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Make a Difference To Your Running Training?

Every single female is going to react differently to Hormone Replacement Therapy. It’s important to note that we are not providing medical advice, so this is a topic you should please consult your physician about.

Hormone Replacement Therapy can have a very good effect on your postmenopausal and your menopausal symptoms, but not necessarily on your running training. It’s still crucial that you follow the correct training principles, even if you are on HRT.

The hormone that you’re replacing it with is not exactly the same, unbelievable scientific research has gone into making estrogen microbiologically, but it’s not the same as your estrogen. Therefore it doesn’t have the same effect on your bone mineral density & lean muscle mass. 

HRT could do wonders for your symptoms, but it’s not going to affect your running training in the positive ways that we need. The way to positively make a difference to your training is to follow the five pillars in the framework above.

Discover how you can run better as you get older, without training more or harder than you currently are… in our upcoming Running Through Menopause Masterclass with Sports Scientist Shona Hendricks. Save your seat below:

We all get older and we all tend to slow down…

Aging is one of those things that happens to all of us…

Don’t get us wrong, continuing to run as you get older is definitely not all bad news.

It is possible to improve your running speed and stay injury-free once you reach your 50s and well into your 70s and beyond. 

If you’ve got a smile on your face as a result of the above statement then, then good! 

We’re going to help you avoid injuries, and keep/improve your running speed by adding just a few tweaks to the way your train. 

Let’s first have a look at what exactly it is that makes us slow down as we get older…

Why You Slow Down As You Hit 50

Many studies show peak performance ages to be between 20-35 years of age for most sports and the physiological decline eminent thereafter.

According to Dr. Paola Wood, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sport Science & Biokinetics at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, who is an expert in the topic of the Ageing athlete. 

Dr. Wood states that for the most part, the rate of decline for everyone is linear from 30 years old onwards, however, once you reach 60-70 this decline is much steeper/greater.

The differentiator comes in for those who were active from a young age, you will perhaps start this decline at a higher or better point but essentially the rate of decline is the same for everyone.

Here are some of the reasons why you may be slowing down…

  1. Decrease In Muscle Mass

According to an article published in the National Library Of Medicine. Muscle mass decreases approximately 3–8% per decade after the age of 30 and this rate of decline is even higher after the age of 60. 

  1. A Progressive Increase In Fat Mass

A decrease in muscle mass is also accompanied by a progressive increase in fat mass and consequently changes in body composition. The increase in fat mass is distributed more specifically in the abdominal region, an area associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

  1. Decrease In Bone Density

Up until age 50, bone density tends to stay stable with equal amounts of bone formation and bone breakdown. 

After the age of 50, bone breakdown (resorption) outpaces bone formation and bone loss often accelerates. This particularly happens in women going through menopause. 

  1. Not Enough Sleep

As you age, you need more sleep. Your body needs to recover, so it can handle the physical demands you apply to it.

  1. Balanced Diet

A balanced diet is critical to maintaining speed as you age. You don’t ever want to find yourself with low energy availability. This is common because a lot of people are trying to restrict their diet due to weight gain. But this is counterproductive…  

  1. A Decline In Maximum Heart Rate

As we get older, we start to see a decline in maximum heart rate. Most age-related HRmax formulas are sufficient for a general idea for the general population however there is a lot of variance with these formulas and they are not very dependable at an individual level.

Now that we know why you may be slowing down… Let’s have a look at how to counteract the effect of aging when it comes to the speed that you run at.

How To Run Faster As You Get Older

We’ve got a great example, it’s close to home… it’s Lindsey’s dad, who is a phenomenal runner, still running 48-minute 10 K’s at the age of 70.

Here’s exactly how he’s done it and what he has done to counteract the effects of aging… 

Slowing down as you age is something a lot of people struggle with and struggle to come to terms with.

There isn’t some magical kind of formula to solve this problem… what we’re about to tell you isn’t based on some research paper that’s going to give you the million-dollar answer… It’s an observation from experience.

The earlier you start running so in other words, the more years and more load you’ve got on your body, the slower you tend to slow down.

And…

The runners who stick to the shorter, faster training, the ones who stay away from ultra-marathons… tend to hang onto their speed for much longer.

These two things have the biggest impact on how soon you would start to slow down.

There are still some marathon runners that are very fast, very competitive well into their 30s,

and even just about 40 years old, and those are people that have run, for the most part, for their entire life.

So there is no question that as we age, there will come a time when we do start to slow down.

The good news is that if you picked up running in your 30s, then chances are you’re going to keep getting faster, a lot longer than your peers and as we as your peers may start to slow down, you might still be speeding up.

How To Counter Act Slowing Down As You Get Older:

Recovery 

We do find that in the initial stages when people start to slow down if they can make a few changes to reduce the fatigue it makes a big difference. 

As you get older you do get a little bit more tired than you used to… your bodies can’t handle the same training load.

You need to adapt your training to allow your body to have a little bit more recovery time…  that might be in the form of slightly reducing high-intensity workouts in terms of their volume but certainly not reducing the actual intensity or putting slightly longer gaps between those high intensity sessions, dropping the volume slightly.

That is counterintuitive to a lot of people, but it does depend on how your goals are shifting as you do get older.

Strength Training is key to maintaining your speed.

Part of what is happening as we age, is we’re all losing testosterone, men and women are going through the same thing and we are losing muscle.

So if you can do strength training and hold onto that muscle that’s definitely going to slow down the rate of regression or muscle loss and then in ADDITION doing cross-training makes an enormous difference as we get older. 

Cross-training plays a little bit into the recovery part, where we’re putting less eccentric strain on the body.

Cross-training also keeps up the cardiovascular component by doing less high-impact exercises like cycling, swimming, elliptic, and rowing.

Note: Cross-training does not replace strength training.

If you combine all those aspects then you can still slow down the slowing.

Cutting back on the volume and the amount of training you are doing may seem like a tough pill to swallow…

For a lot of people who have run for a long time, there was a time when the school of thinking was: if you want to get better you simply need to run more.

There are quite a few guys and girls who’ve been running for a long time that are still in that frame of mind.

They are running six days a week and are struggling to stop the slowdown.

Lindsey’s dad is a really good example of that.

He was a fantastic runner in his prime, he’s still a great runner now… but when he cut back a bit on the training he saw fabulous results!

In his 50s, he was struggling. He had a lot of injuries and was slowing down…

Lindsey eventually managed to convince him to cut down. (He was running 7 days a week)

He cut it down to four days of running a week.

Over the next seven years, he got faster and faster and faster until at that point of over 7 years, he was able to run the times, that he ran when he turned 50.

So when he was 57, he’d gotten himself back to the point where he was running times from when he was 50 years old!!

He has found a way to only lose essentially a couple of seconds over 10 K’s over the Years.

He does get significantly slower though, once he gets past the half marathon, that that does come down to things like strength and your endurance starts to go when you’re older but the reality is that at cross country and 10k races, he’s only losing a couple of seconds a year so he’s slowing down, slowly.

There’s no question that eating a healthy diet will help slow down the slowdown.

As we mentioned earlier, you experience a decrease in muscle mass after your 30s…
This makes protein, and the nutrients that support protein synthesis in the body – vitamins B6 and B12, C, folate, and magnesium – essential dietary components for you.

You should eat real food sources: lean red meat, chicken, fish, soy, dairy, beans, nuts, and seeds.

Frequent amino acid consumption during the waking hours is best and after training, you should consume 6 grams of essential amino acids as well as some carbohydrates.

Milk and other dairies (bioactive compounds) will increase your muscle protein synthesis and vitamin D benefits your muscle strength.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into strength training…

Strength Training For When You’re Over 50

These are some of the things you can do to counteract the effects of aging as a runner.

A lot of runners discount the benefit of strength and conditioning but as you get older, it becomes more and more crucial…

We advocate strength and conditioning for runners in totality, but if someone is perhaps over 45, or 50 it’s a no-brainer for us.

It has to be in your running plan, in your weekly plan, and your weekly schedule.

Strength Training becomes so important, the effects of aging… as much as we hate to admit it, are very real and there are tons of studies out there, but some of the sorts of stats that we’re seeing are that by the ages between 60 and 70, you can lose up to 30 to 40% of your muscle mass.

Just because you’re becoming an older runner doesn’t mean that you’re not going to be able to hit your goals and reach them.

We believe that with strength training, and a really good structured running program, you can still start smashing some goals.

There’s always a risk with strength training as it is.

This isn’t just for older athletes, but you have to ensure that the technique that you’re using or doing the exercise is correct because if you’re doing that incorrectly, you’re going to hurt yourself.

Perhaps for the older athlete, we recommend doing a lot more stability and quite a bit more flexibility, just because the range of motion as you’re getting older is slightly more limited and we just find that increased range combined with strength.

To sum it all up… here are Coach Parry’s top tips to increase your speed as you get older.

Join us for a free online presentation of the…

The Faster Beyond 50 Masterclass

…and discover how you can run well (and faster) as you get olderwithout training more or harder than you currently are, all while avoiding injury. 

If it feels like you’re training harder than ever but not running the paces you’d like to be running or if you’re constantly tired, fatigued or running in some sort of pain, then this is specifically for you.

Save your seat in this training now…

10 Tips To Increase Your Speed As You Get Older

  1. Adjust your training paces. (You will run faster by slowing down)

At Coach Parry, we recommend getting your pacing right and running the easy runs, easy enough. Including walk breaks to ensure you keep it easy. 

Watch this video for a more detailed explanation.

  1. Train consistently.
  2. Train at the correct pace.
  3. Recovery is vital.
  4. Add cross-training to your program.
  5. Strength training is a game-changer.
  6. Make sure you’re getting enough quality sleep.
  7. Eat enough nutritional foods.
  8. Decrease your running training days.
  9. Follow a science-based program.

The Race Against Age: How To Slow Down The Slowing Down: Read Here

A lot of people don’t know that the term “Runners Knee” is a broad term used to describe the pain you feel if you have one of several knee problems. 

You might have heard a doctor call it Patellofemoral pain syndrome.

Patellofemoral pain syndrome can be better understood as…

Pain around the front of the knee (patella). This is where the knee connects with the lower end of the thigh bone (femur).

Let’s have a deeper look into Patellofemoral pain or… more commonly known as runner’s knee…

What Is Runners Knee?

Most of the big five fall into the overuse category, but like shin splints, runners knee or patella-femoral knee pain, in particular, does come down to people building up too quickly.

We have got four muscles that make up our quadriceps, (quad meaning four).  

You’ve got a little guy called the Vastus Medialis oblique which is primarily responsible for stabilizing your patella. 

Then you’ve got some pretty big muscles too…

The point is when you’ve been inactive for some time your proprioception or the body’s ability to adjust itself to protect the joints is one of the things that becomes the most compromised. 

Those big quad muscles will stay quite big and they will work quite well but your Vastus Medialis oblique is probably not going to work so well. 

This results in some misalignment with your patella tracking. Particularly If you build up too quickly and you don’t give your body a chance for that Vastus Medialis oblique to start activating as it should and to start getting a little bit stronger… in a nutshell, it will lead to problems such as pain, particularly in and around your knee cap.

Similarly, if you have some biomechanical issues you may pick up Runner’s knee…

Your quadriceps run into your patella tendon and your quadriceps tendon runs over and around the patella and becomes the patella tendon that joins the leg on the tibia or below the knee. 

If you have some imbalances or problems with biomechanics in particular then you can get that pulling on the patella at an angle and that can also cause you some patella-femoral pain or some irritation of the knee cap.

It may seem obvious but if you are going to start running in squash shoes or in the shoes you had in high school, you are going to run into problems. 

Often when people who have been running for years develop Runners knee or patella-femoral knee pain it is very often in response to their shoes.

This Is How To Tell You Need New Running Shoes

The knee is one of those joints that really needs to work in one plane. 

Your knee joint opens and closes, which is pretty much what it does. Where you have other joints like your ankle or your hip and they’re a little more forgiving because they move in multiple directions…

So if imbalance creeps in or if there is another injury and you come back from that injury but it has caused some change or shift in your running gait and you finally find yourself in a position where you are landing on the ground and your knee is no longer able to move in just that straight plain thereby causing a bit of stress on the knee….That could also potentially cause patella-femoral knee pain.

Symptoms Of Runners Knee

There are 3 main symptoms of Runner’s knee.

  1. Pain
  • Pain in/ around your kneecap that happens when you are exercising.
  • As well as pain after sitting for a long time with the knees bent. 
  1. Grinding Sounds
  • Rubbing, grinding, or clicking sound of the kneecap that you hear when you bend and straighten your knee.
  1. Tender Kneecap
  • If your Kneecap is tender to the touch.

How Is Runner’s Knee Diagnosed?

Healthcare providers can diagnose Runner’s knee by looking at your health history and by conducting a physical exam, possibly using an X-ray machine.

Let’s have a look at some of the main reasons why you could experience Runner’s knee…

Causes Of Runners Knee

  1. Overtraining
  2. An Imbalance
  3. Not Warming Up Correctly
  4. Knee Trauma

Overtraining

Long periods of overtraining can cause runner’s knee in even the most experienced athletes. This is why proper recovery is so important. 

By not recovering properly, and if you continue to follow your running program without strategically planning rest days, you are at risk of injuries like patellofemoral syndrome.

An Imbalance

Our knees sit between our ankles and hips, so if there is an imbalance or dysfunction in either our ankles or our hips… there is a higher chance that we will experience runners knee.

Not Warming Up Correctly

If you want to avoid getting injured as a runner, only running is not enough!

In the video below, we walk you through exactly what to do before every run that you do.

It only takes a few minutes but if you start doing this as part of your pre-run routine, you can save yourself a lot of time and heartache down the line because of training missed due to injuries

Knee Trauma

When an accident happens and it involves a direct impact on your kneecap… it can lead to inflammation and therefore Runner’s knee.

Now that we know the causes of Runner’s knee, the good news is that it is treatable!

How To Treat Runners Knee

Firstly and very importantly, rest. 

We then need to wake up that Vastus Medialis oblique and that is not a difficult thing to do…

It’s done in two ways:

Strength Exercises

This would involve 30-degree squats (or even less if there is a pain), a little pain-free range of motion such as single-leg squats, single-leg press-ups, and step-ups onto a very low step at first.

We’ll have a detailed look at strength training exercises for Runner’s knee in the next section.

Work On The Proprioception Simultaneously

The easiest way to do this is to stand on a thick carpet or rug, balance on one leg, and close your eyes. 

That will throw yourself completely out of kilter and all the muscles in your ankle, in your bum, and around the knee that are supposed to stabilize those joints will be forced to engage better because there will be an exaggeration of the movement.

As you repeat that over time, that loss of balance will get smaller and smaller as those proprioceptors do their job, your Vastus Medialis oblique will be doing its job better and your runner’s knee or patella-femoral knee pain shouldn’t be bothering you anymore.

As we mentioned above, our strength & conditioning expert Shona Hendricks talks about what strength training you can do to prevent Runner’s knee. 

Strength Training for Runner’s Knee

To prevent knee pain when running, download our free strength program here.

How ridiculously incredible would it be if there was this brand new magical formula that could build muscle, repair tissue, boost HGH (Human Growth Hormone), improve your concentration, and make running feel a lot easier…

We would all be handing our money over to the suppliers ASAP!

Well…

We’ve got something to tell you…

When we lay our heads down on our comfy pillows and head off into dreamland for 8 hours or so… our bodies are already doing all those things, and more. 

Sleep is one of the non-negotiable pillars of recovery, training, and ensuring you get to the next workout feeling good.

Improving this one part of your life can make the world of a difference.

The Power Of Sleep

In our modern lifestyles, sleep is actually quite hard to come by. The number of hours of sleep but more importantly the quality of sleep that we have is particularly poor. 

We encourage you to make a few small changes that will go a long way in positively impacting your recovery.

If we were to say that everyone should be getting 10 hours of sleep a day… You’re probably already beginning to laugh and will most likely stop reading on… because in your busy life… Where on earth are you going to find 10 hours to sleep per day?!

So, let’s rather look at how long we manage to sleep.

The Difference Sleep Will Make To Your Recovery

When you’re training for a specific event, (particularly in the 6-8 weeks of peak training) try and prioritize sleep and try to get 30 to 60 minutes more than you would normally get. 

That little bit of extra sleep will make a big difference to your recovery, however, what will make even more of a difference is when you go to sleep and how you prepare your sleep environment.

We have worked with several professional runners and there are 8 things that they do consistently that most amateur runners don’t do… Including getting as much sleep as possible…

Check it out here!

Let’s dive right into how you should be preparing your sleep environment and when you should be hitting the hay…

How To Improve The Quality Of Your Sleep

The earlier you go to bed, the better. 

We understand that for a lot of people this is a really difficult thing to do, so we are not saying that you should be getting into bed at 8 p.m., however… you need to understand that the later you get to sleep after 10 o’clock, the more compromised your hormonal release becomes.

It’s the release of hormones while you are sleeping that primes the body for recovery. 

After 10 o’clock, we start to eat into the hormonal release and it becomes more and more stunted.

If you climb into bed regularly after midnight then you are SERIOUSLY compromising your body’s ability to release growth hormone – Testosterone and therefore to enable you to recover much better. 

Ensure that you have a good quality sleep. 

This can be done by keeping a hygienic sleeping environment. 

A Hygenic Sleeping Environment:

  • Needs to be dark. The darker the room, the better quality of sleep you will have.
  • Needs to be cool. We sleep really well in a cool environment..
  • No flickering lights. There should be no cellphone beeping lights or TV lights

Have a good run-up to your sleep time.

At about 30 to 45 minutes before you plan to go to sleep, try to limit the amount of time you spend on blue lights. 

Instead, let your mind quieten down and opt for reading a book. 

Blue light devices include: 

  • Tv’s
  • Cell Phones
  • Laptops
  • Tablets

How Much Sleep Do Runners Need?

When we talk about elite athletes, it’s often joked about that they aren’t paid to train but they are paid to rest. 

This is exactly a key factor in getting your training and recovery right!

If you look at an elite athlete’s regime… they take naps during the day, they sleep long hours at night, and they often don’t train early mornings because they’re sleeping in. 

As we mentioned earlier, the above situation is not practical for the amateur athlete who works a full-time job, and who doesn’t get paid to train. 

You need to prioritize getting as much sleep as you can, as consistently as possible. 

Life is hectic and we do completely understand that. 

Avoid inconsistency by getting one night of 8 hours of sleep a week, 2 nights 6 hours, and the rest of the week, getting 5 hours… Rather try to get as much as possible as consistently as possible. 

The Benefits Of Getting A Good Nights Sleep

  1. Build Muscle & Repair Tissue

When you sleep deeply HGH (Human Growth Hormone) is released.

HGH is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland and released into the bloodstream. HGH aids in repairing tissue, building muscle, strengthening bones, and converting fat to fuel. 

Therefore, less sleep results in lower HGH levels, impacting the speed that you’ll recover from your runs. 

In this article, we explain how your body has to adapt to get stronger…

When you run, you aren’t just building your stamina and strength; you’re also breaking your body down, causing a tiny amount of tissue damage with every step.

So, allowing yourself time to recover after your runs is what makes it possible for you to come back better adapted for your next run.

  1. Athletic Performance

Getting enough sleep is crucial for athletic performance.

Studies show that a night of good sleep can improve speed, accuracy, and reaction time in athletes.

As you know, carbohydrates help provide a ready source of energy for the body – when carbs are broken down by the body, the component sugars are stored in the muscles as glycogen, (waiting to be used up during the race).

Not getting enough sleep will weaken the body’s ability to store those carbohydrates, which means less glycogen will be stored.

In this video Lindsey and Brad talk about the role of sleep in your recovery as a runner.

Click Here!

  1. Hormonal Balance

By not getting enough sleep, your body produces less HGH and produces more Cortisol (normally released during times of stress). Both of these effects make it very hard for your body to recover properly.

Ghrelin hormone: Famously known as the “hunger hormone” because of its stimulatory effects on food intake, fat deposition, and growth hormone release.

Leptin hormone: Regulates energy balance, suppressing food intake and thereby inducing weight loss.

When we don’t get enough sleep, we have an increase in Ghrelin and a decrease in Leptin. This results in us eating more, even if we don’t need to because we don’t have a strong signal to stop.

  1. Water Reabsorption

Drinking water is essential. H2O accounts for up to 60% of the human body, and it helps with a wide variety of bodily functions, like cell growth, waste removal, and digestion.

One of the ways getting a good night’s sleep can benefit your running is…water reabsorption. When you sleep, your kidney balances water, sodium, and other electrolytes. Without enough water, the kidneys can’t balance electrolytes properly.

This study was published in February 2019. 

In the study, a group of more than 20,000 American and Chinese adults showed that those who self-reported sleeping less than six hours on average each night were associated with a higher likelihood of inadequate hydration status, compared with those sleeping eight hours or longer each night. 

  1. Concentration

The right amount of sleep affects your concentration.

According to Harvard Health publishing, when people don’t get enough sleep, their attention and concentration abilities decline. Their reaction time lengthens, they’re inattentive, and they don’t respond as well to environmental signals.

Runners need to be able to tune in and strategize the rest of the race or the run and they also need to be able to concentrate to give that last “big push” at the end of a race.

Need help structuring your training?

Check out the Coach Parry Training Club: Here

If you’re in bed, reading this on your phone or laptop… 

It’s time to turn it off! 😉

You’re 50+ and want to start one of the most beloved hobbies across the globe – fantastic!
Most people believe that after 50 you are sort of hitting the downhill slope of the rest of your life… but I know you believe that age is just a number. 

Age is no barrier. It’s a limitation you put on your mind.”

Jackie Joyner-Kersee (Retired American track and field athlete, ranked among the all-time greatest athletes in the heptathlon as well as long jump.)

Studies suggest that running over 50 years old, whether you are experienced or not, is a great way to improve cardiovascular fitness. Middle-aged, beginner runners will gain the same benefits as experienced, middle-aged runners. These include healthier muscle mass, a stronger heart, and less body fat. 

As you age there are some unique challenges associated with maintaining your health and wellness whilst you immerse yourself in the running world. This may leave you wondering if it’s all really worth it…

Is Running After 50 Worth It?

A study between 1980 and 2009 was conducted, analyzing participants in the New York Marathon. The results were very interesting, the percent of middle-aged runners finishing the marathon increased significantly, while the number of people under the age of 40 who finished, decreased. 

Staying active as you age is critical to keeping healthy and happy, running is an excellent form of exercise, that can be started at any age, whether it’s at age 6 or age 60. 

5 Reasons Why It’s Never Too Late To Start Running

  1. Health benefits. 
  2. The social side.
  3. It’s okay to start slow.
  4. Increased life expectancy.
  5. Minimal equipment needed.

Health Benefits

According to the Journal of American College Of Cardiology: Running can decrease your risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 45%. 

This is due to HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol “good cholesterol” and improved blood pressure. Running gives you a better quality sleep which is essential for your health, it also improves your memory, boosts your mood and concentration levels. 

“A runner’s high describes a sense of well-being during endurance exercise characterized by euphoria and anxiolysis.” 

This sense of well-being reduces anxiety and contributes positively to one’s mental health.

Social Benefits

Older people running

As a newbie runner, it’s helpful to know that studies have proven that when we run with others, we run faster and farther more easily than we would if we were running alone.

Social running like joining clubs or starting a program with friends will add an instant boost of motivation and inspire you to try new events, share stories, learn from each other, and build confidence.

Starting Slow Is The Way To Go

It’s never too late to start running after 50, we believe no matter your age, as a new runner, the way to go is definitely slow. There is absolutely no rush when it comes to running – hard to believe right!

It’s important to remember that taking things slow and building up your running fitness incrementally will ensure that you are building up your strength and that you are minimizing your risk of getting hurt.

Increased Life Expectancy

Recent studies show that even running just once a week or a couple of times a month can have a major effect on your life expectancy compared to people who don’t run at all.

14 individual studies were conducted by the British Journal Of Sports Medicine. The studies were based on the association of running and the risk of death from all causes, heart disease, and cancer.
The pooled sample included more than 230,000 participants (10% were runners).
The study tracked the participants for between 5.5 & 35 years.

The results:
25,951 participants died, when the data was analyzed it was noted that runners had a 27% lower risk of dying during the study compared to non-runners.

Running was associated with a 30% lower risk of heart disease and a 23% lower risk of death from cancer.

Minimal Equipment Needed

One of the fantastic things about getting into running is that it’s accessible to absolutely anyone, no matter your budget. You don’t need any equipment or memberships.
All you need is a good pair of running shoes.

Running shoes

We know that an active lifestyle keeps your muscles and bones strong, your mind sharp, and can add years to your life, but how do we actually start running?

5 Tips To Start Running After 50 (And Enjoy It!)

1. Walk before you run

This doesn’t mean that you mustn’t run at all, it means that you should do more walking than running. Walking builds up the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that you need for running. The gradual change from walking to running is what’s going to allow you to reap the benefits.

2. Strength training

Strength training is and becomes more important as you age. From as early as your 30’s you will experience a steady decline in muscle mass. Strength training reduces this loss and allows your body to cope with this new exercise regime, it will also help contribute to you becoming a better runner as well as protecting your body from injury. 

3. Build up slowly

Build up in blocks (ie. be sure to take a recovery week every 3-4 weeks) this doesn’t mean you do nothing, you can still run 3-4 times per week but you reduce the volume in the 3/4 week to aid recovery and give you all the benefit of the training you have just done

4. It’s important to not run more than four days a week

As a general rule, beginner runners that are 50+ should stick to running 3 to 4 days a week maximum. This will allow the body to recover correctly and prevent injury.

5. Cross-training is your friend

You need to start slowly, cross-training will allow you to push yourself a bit harder with non-impact cardiovascular exercises. These exercises don’t contribute to the load that you would be placing on your joints when you start running in your 50’s. 

Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was some sort of “special key” to mobility, flexibility, lower injury risk, improved performance, and counteracted aging? Well, there is… it’s called strength and conditioning.

Strength Training After 50

Strength and conditioning training becomes so important as we age, as much as we all hate to admit it, the effects of aging are very real and research shows that by the ages of between 60 and 70, you can lose up to 30% of your muscle mass and strength training will help combat just that. Running is hard on the body so you do have to ensure that you’ve got the strength to sustain that load.

Give the Coach Parry free strength training program that is written specifically for runners over the age of 50 a try: Click Here

You now know why you should be running, you know how to prepare for your running, you know how to run, but how fast should you be running?  

How Fast Should A 50-Year-Old Beginner Be Running?

When starting, you should go for sessions between 15 to 20 minutes at a time and walk for four to five minutes, followed by a one-minute run. This should be repeated for the entire 15 to 20 minutes. 

Every one to two weeks, depending on how easy the above method is and how well your body takes to it, you will then reduce the walking, increase the running and slowly increase the session time.
In eight to twelve weeks you will be able to run five kilometres without needing to walk at all. 

Once you’re a bit more experienced, you may be interested in improving your (PR) personal record. Here’s how you can continue running fast into your fifties and beyond:

Common Stumbling Blocks For New Runners In Their 50’s

  • Potential injuries. Some include shin splints, runner’s knee, and achilles tendinitis.
  • A decline in cardiovascular endurance. This is why it’s important to take things slow.
  • Shrinking muscles. (Sarcopenia) This happens normally as people age, strength training will help combat this.

To conquer these stumbling blocks and arrive at your next run feeling great we have one very important word for you…

Recovery

Recovery is one of the most important, yet very often ignored aspects of running. 

You only benefit from the training you recover from. Adaptation to exercise only happens in recovery not actually while we do it.

If you want to recover from training sessions quicker, not feel fatigued all the time, run pain & injury free and improve your endurance so that you can run faster well beyond your fifties, then the Faster Beyond 50 Free Masterclass is specifically for you.  

Save your seat by clicking here.

Join us for a free online presentation of the…

The Faster Beyond 50 Masterclass

…and discover how you can run well (and faster) as you get olderwithout training more or harder than you currently are, all while avoiding injury. 

If it feels like you’re training harder than ever but not running the paces you’d like to be running or if you’re constantly tired, fatigued or running in some sort of pain, then this is specifically for you.

Save your seat in this training now…

I don’t have time to run today… I have to be at work by 9 am… I need to start cooking dinner soon…

We’ve all been there. It feels like there are never enough hours in a day to fit it all in.

The truth is, all you really need is 30 minutes. 

Studies suggest that just thirty minutes of running can provide incredible benefits to your long and short-term health. There is no need to run for hours to reap the positive effects on your mental and physical well-being.

Let’s look a bit deeper into what happens to your body during a 30-minute run. 

The First Few Seconds Of Running

The hardest part is over, you’ve stepped outside or onto the treadmill and started the run! 

Initially, you’ll feel a burst of power. Your muscles will start using ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which provides energy to drive many processes in your cells, basically, the energy molecules that your body makes from the food you eat. That burst of power that you feel is the ATP converting to ADP (adenosine diphosphate). 

ADP is essential for the flow of energy in your cells. 

Adenosine Triphosphate & Adenosine Diphosphate

ATP & ADP both play important roles in providing cellular energy. Your muscle cells will turn ADP back into ATP after the initial surge of energy.

It’s easier to think about it like this: ATP is just like a rechargeable battery. When it’s fully charged, it’s ATP. When it’s run down, it’s ADP. However, the battery (ATP) doesn’t get thrown away when it’s run down–it gets recycled and charged up again.

You’re really in it, if you look back, you’re putting meters between you and your starting point, the treadmill is starting to pick up your pace, your watch is letting you know that your heart is pumping and that you are very much alive and best of all, you’re feeling positive

Keep in mind Coach Parry advocates for your training to consist of the 80/20 rule, 80% easy runs (when we say easy, we mean really really EASY), and 20% harder runs. 

Running on a promenade

90 Seconds Into Your Run

You will notice that your breathing has probably become heavy. A poor breathing technique is often the reason why people get an unwanted side stitch. 

It’s good to remember that if you are running one of your easy runs then you should be able to hold a conversation with your running partner or even sing a song. 

So, your body needs to release more of that battery (ATP). To do this, your cells will break down glycogen. This is because your body needs a quick boost of energy, breaking down the glycogen will release glucose into your bloodstream, which will be used as fuel for your cells. 

By now you’ve probably got that voice in the back of your mind telling you that overused ‘old phrase’ that was actually popularized by Jane Fonda in her aerobic exercise videos. 

Let’s say it together… 3.2.1. “Feel The Burn!”

5 Minutes Into Your Run

That “burn” you are feeling is your muscles releasing lactic acid.

The energy you are using is coming from the glucose your body is releasing, that glucose is now being broken down into Pyruvate. When your body is receiving limited oxygen (as it is now), the Pyruvate is converted into a substance called Lactate. 

Lactate allows glucose to be broken down, which essentially allows you to continue running. 

Your pulse is quickening, those drops of sweat are starting to drip down the side of your face and the back of your neck, your heart is pumping harder to move oxygenated blood to your muscles and brain, you feel alive!

Trail runner

10 Minutes Into Your Run

By now, you’re definitely hitting your stride, you can feel that your gluteus maximus, your legs, and your core are helping keep you upright.

This is probably when you’re thinking to yourself: “Damn, I should be doing more of Shona’s Strength Training Classes”. Well, here‘s a FREE strength training program just for you: Click Here.

Your heart is beating FAST. Technically it’s trying to direct blood towards your muscles. To make the best use of the glucose, your muscle cells require as much oxygen as possible.

Say hello to those dreaded, out-of-breath grunts, moans, and groans…

On an easy run, these should be avoided by slowing down even more or even including some walking when necessary.

Don’t worry, it’s not uncommon to run out of breath. There are a few different reasons why you could be out of breath.

Why You Could Be Short Of Breath On a Run

  • A buildup of carbon dioxide in your body from running. This will be a trigger to breathe more rapidly to allow an intake of more oxygen. 
  • Altitude. The higher the level of elevation, the less oxygen there is available.
  • Fatigue of your inspiratory muscles. (diaphragm and external intercostals)

The halfway time is near…. Almost there! 

Sweating runner

20 Minutes Into Your Run

You’ve now been absolutely firing those calories. According to Dr. Daniel V. Vigil, on average, runners burn 100 calories in 1 mile. You’re hot, you’re sweaty and you might be checking your watch a lot more than you were in the first 10 minutes.  

Let’s break down what “sweaty” really means. 

Eccrine Sweat Glands

Eccrine sweat glands occur over most of your body and open directly onto the surface of your skin. These sweat glands are controlled by the Sympathetic Nervous System and regulate your body temperature. 

Apocrine Sweat Glands

Apocrine sweat glands open into hair follicles that surface at your skin, like armpits, scalp, and groin region. These sweat glands produce sweat that is associated with body odor. 

Things are going one of two ways here, either you’re in shape and you’re still feeling pretty strong, or every minute is now starting to feel like an eternity. 

25- 30 Minutes Into Your Run

If you’re in good shape, your muscles and their battery supply (ATP) are plentiful. Your body is shuttling oxygen efficiently and you’re having a good time. 

If you’ve been skipping out on one too many training sessions and haven’t picked up your running shoes in a while then your body is going to be flooded with lactic acid. You’re thinking to yourself… “I’m not sure how much longer I can Feel the Burn for!”

If the above is you, building endurance is your new best friend, check it out: Here

PHEW! You made it! 

The End Of Your Run

You’ve ‘hopefully’ got a gleaming smile on your face from the wonderful mood-boosting dopamine hormones that your body has released, which, along with the endorphin and serotonin chemical messages given off as you run, will lead to ‘runner’s high’ – a feeling of euphoria and decreased anxiety.

We’ve explored what happens to your body during the 30 minutes of running, let’s have a look at how all of it will benefit you.

Remarkable Benefits Of Running For 30 Mins Regularly

Trail runner's legs
  • Improved Cardio Fitness
  • Stronger Bones
  • Improved Sleep
  • Feeling Happier
  • Burnt Calories
  • Feeling Stronger
  • Live Longer
  • Healthy Weight Maintenance
  • Strengthened Immune System

After reading through all those benefits, who wouldn’t want to run for 30 minutes regularly!

If you want to increase your running endurance so that you’re able to run for 30 minutes or more then this is the best way to go about it. In this video, Lindsey Parry talks Brad Brown through the strategy of running longer and faster without getting tired.