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Masters Running

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You’re never too old or too overweight to start running.

There is a way that you can ease into this wonderful sport safely…

If you’re interested in changing your life, improving your cardiovascular health, building confidence, connecting to nature, and increasing your longevity…It’s not the craziest idea…Running will help you to do just that.

This is how to start running if you’re overweight and in your 50s.

Is 50 Too Old To Start Running?

Loved ones and friends who lead active lifestyles probably tell you that it’s never too late to start training…

You may be surprised to hear this, but research suggests that they are correct.

Frontiers in Physiology published a study that showed us exactly what you need to hear…

The study found that runners who started training after age 50 were able to be as fast and lean as runners in their age group who had been running for their whole lives.

Another study had a look at participants in the New York City Marathon between 1980 and 2009, the percentage of masters runners significantly increased, while the number of finishers under age 40 decreased.

Running really is a sport you can start at any age, it provides a host of mental and physical health benefits no matter how old you are.

Just because you might not look like a gazelle when you’re out there doesn’t mean you’re not a runner. 

Running is a fantastic way to boost weight loss if that’s what you’re looking for…

Can You Start Running If You Are Overweight?

Getting started with running may be a bit more challenging if you are overweight, but it is absolutely doable and highly recommended.

It is important to be patient with yourself along the journey so that you reduce the risk of injury and get the most out of your training. 

Studies show that running for just 30 minutes will kick-start your metabolism and burn a lot of fat, both during and after the exercise itself. 

This is because, during an easy, short run, your body will use fat as its primary source of energy, rather than relying on carbohydrates which play a more significant role as the intensity of the exercise increases.

We wrote this article covering exactly what happens to your body on a 30-minute run and it is UNBELIEVABLE!

Remember: Becoming a good runner takes time… Pushing too hard too and too far too early will lead to disappointment and may cause injury right away.

Why Running Is Harder When You’re Overweight

Overweight isn’t a subjective term with a loose definition. 

You may have heard of the word BMI before, it stands for Body Mass Index and is calculated based on your height and weight.

There is actually a weight range that is considered healthy for a given height, and anything over that healthy range is considered overweight. 

Note: If you’re overweight, speak to your GP for advice about losing weight safely first.

Your doctor can advise you which is the safest way for you to lose weight.

If you have underlying problems associated with being overweight, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), high blood pressure, diabetes, or sleep apnoea, your doctor may recommend further tests.

It’s obvious that running is harder when you’re overweight, here’s why…

Having extra weight can make it harder to move your body, and thus harder to exercise. 

People who are overweight often have a difficult time doing physical activity due to body size, limited mobility, and joint pain.

Physiologically, it is more difficult for an overweight person to do the same amount of exercise as a healthy-weight person because of the extra weight they carry, this is because the heavier you are the more oxygen you need to do the same exercise. 

Problems Overweight Runners Might Encounter

1. Trouble Breathing

This is the correct way to breathe while running.

2. Joint Pain & maybe even foot cramps.

Here are foot and ankle strength exercises for runners.

3. Runners Knee

Causes Of Runner’s Knee:

  • Overtraining
  • Biomechanical Imbalance
  • Acute Knee Trauma
  • Shoes

4. Shin Splints

Shin splints are normally caused by one of the muscles that are running down the tibia. Typically it is the medial or inside of the shin that normally hurts.
This is how to get rid of shin splints fast.

5. Chafing

All we can say is… Vaseline, Vaseline, Vaseline.

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…

Nutrition For 50 + Year-Old Overweight Runners 

You need to consider your physiological changes… As you get older, there is a decrease in muscle mass and protein turnover, and a decrease in muscle glycogen and protein synthesis occurs.

We are really just going to cover the 1000-foot view…
If you would like to learn more about how you should be eating as a 50+ year old runner then you can get immediate, lifetime access to Practical Nutrition for the Over 50 Runner…
HERE

  • Muscle responds to demand, that’s why resistance training is so important. 
  • It’s extremely important to take in adequate calories. (Don’t eat too little) 
  • Muscles respond to protein intake so you should have a minimum of 1.0 g/kg BW/ day (0.02 oz/lb/d)
  • Frequent amino acid consumption during the waking hours is best.
  • 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.
  • Vitamin D benefits your muscle strength.
  • Omega-3 (found in fish) increases muscle mass and strength. Should be eaten 3 – 4 times per week or supplemented with Omega-3 tablets.
  • Magnesium is involved with muscle contraction processes (benefits to muscle strength)
  • You should be sleeping for 7-9 hours per night.

Tips For Running When You’re Overweight & Over 50

Chat to a professional about your running plan, and weight loss goals and have them assess any potential health issues that may arise.

Make sure you start in the correct pair of running shoes. If you’re overweight, the extra weight and pressure on your joints can make you even more vulnerable to injuries.

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.

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.

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 3rd/4th week to aid recovery and give you all the benefit of the training you have just done.

Cross-training is your new best friend. You need to start slowly, cross-training will allow you to push yourself a bit harder with non-impact cardiovascular exercises.

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 60 and 70, you can lose up to 30% of your muscle mass and strength training will help combat that.

Remember that, although running can be a helpful tool for weight loss, it is not a guarantee if you don’t change the way you eat as well. 

Sticking with your running plan and achieving your goals may feel difficult some days… so, do what makes this journey enjoyable for you … so that you can keep your motivation up. Some motivation strategies may be rewarding yourself on your rest days or running with a friend. 

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

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

Urinary incontinence is a common condition that female and male athletes should feel free and confident to discuss. 

Can we PLEASE put an end to the taboo already?

Athletes (male & female) hit the porta-potties just about 7 times to prevent it. Running routes are plotted strategically to relieve it. Dark bottoms are worn to disguise it… so let’s just put it out in the open and deal with it!

Urinary incontinence is defined as “the involuntary leakage of urine” and is a common problem in the female population with prevalence rates varying between 10% and 55% in 15- to 64-year-old women. In men, the prevalence of incontinence is much lower than in women, about 3% to 11% overall.

Urinary incontinence is extremely common but not normal. Most people should be able to last two to three hours between urine breaks….

Why Can’t I Hold My Pee When I Run?

Most of the females we work with really struggle to grasp the concept that having a leaky bladder is NOT normal. It is dysfunction between your core and your pelvic floor.

Your pelvic floor is supposed to keep your urethra closed. The urethra is a tube that runs from your bladder to the outside and is only supposed to open once your brain tells it to. When the pelvic floor muscles become weak, or there is an imbalance/disconnect between deep core muscles and the pelvic floor, this is when urine will leak when you sneeze, jump or run.

Types Of Incontinence

1. Urge Incontinence

This type of incontinence is when you have the urge/ feeling that you need to urinate, but you have an empty bladder.

Urge incontinence is caused by years of bad habits, such as holding in your urine when you have a full bladder. This allows your neural pathways to get used to that feeling and then later on in life, you still have that urge/feeling.

2. Urinary Stress Incontinence

This is when you have leaking urine, this is caused by stress (any impact or pounding) and how your pelvic floor interacts with your core.

Most people think that when they leak a little bit of urine while doing exercise like running, it’s because of a weak pelvic floor. Very often it can be BUT… it also has a lot to do with how the Pelvic floor interacts with the core and can also be due to a tightness (which is very connected with the weakness) of the pelvic floor.

Pelvic Floor & The Core 

It’s been said countless times that normal pelvic function is about strength…

We’re here to tell you that it is about strength but not strength alone

A normal pelvic function is about being strong and not tight … as opposed to being weak and tight.

The goal with building strength and ensuring that we are not tight is to get our pelvic floor muscles to be working in conjunction with our deeper core, with a focus on our transverse abdominal muscle as well as our diaphragm.

The pelvic floor + diaphragm working together = Intraabdominal pressure

When we run, every step we take affects Intraabdominal pressure. If there is an imbalance or weakness or something not working in the way it should, it affects the pressure and hence leakage.

Why Is It More Common In Females?

Urinary incontinence occurs more often in women than in men. This is because of two reasons: 

  1. Childbirth
  2. Menopause

Weak bladder muscles, overactive bladder muscles, and nerve damage may also cause urinary incontinence in women.

The good news is that urinary incontinence in women is treatable.

Childbirth

Giving birth is tough on the body and can affect a woman’s urinary control abilities. During pregnancy and while giving birth, the weight of the expanding uterus can weaken the strength of a woman’s pelvic floor muscles.

Natural birth

Compromises the integrity of the pelvic floor and the balance between the deep core and the pelvic floor. 

C-sections

They cut through the transverse abdominus (TA), affecting the strength of the TA and therefore the deep core and balance between this and the pelvic floor

For both – scar tissue will also play a role in affecting how the muscles contract and work together.

Menopause

We start the aging process in our third decade of living. When we get to around 50, we lose muscle mass as a natural function of aging. Therefore losing strength. 

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 a definitive guide to running to, through, and long after menopause:

Click Here  

Staying fit can help with many symptoms of menopause, what’s even better is that all the positive benefits of running (physical and mental wellbeing) still apply.

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…

Remember, Urinary Incontinence Is Not Normal

Your pelvic floor is a muscle, there is a loss of integrity in your muscle as well as a change in your ligaments. Your ligaments become laxer, there is a loss of different collagen fibers, and this all results in everything not holding in place as it once did which leads to a leaky bladder. 

Now that we have established that this is not just about Kegels and strengthening, this is not something that you can self-diagnose. 

If you are leaking urine when you exercise, whether it be while you are gyming or running, even when you jump up and down, or when you do absolutely anything…. 

Remember it is NOT normal. 

That’s why we urge you to seek out a Pelvic Floor Specialist or a physio who specializes in female health. They can help with your diagnosis because as we mentioned earlier it’s not just about a weakness, it can be about tightness. 

Seeking out a specialist will go a long way in helping with your diagnosis. 

The specialist will be able to define whether it is due to a strong concern or a tightness or an imbalance in the way the muscles contract and therefore be able to treat it accordingly…

If we try self-diagnose and we assume it’s a strength concern (as an example) more strengthening will make that muscle tighter. When in fact perhaps the muscle needs to be released as it’s too tight. 

For example, we have chatted to female health experts who mention that just one or two treatments of just trigger pointing could maybe make a huge difference, and then you should only start strengthening thereafter.

As we have established, it’s not just about strength but about how your pelvic floor interacts with your deep core and your diaphragm… So let’s see how we can help with that interaction.

Ways To Help a Weak Bladder

  1. Breathing
  2. Slow Progress

Breathing

As we established above, many people wrongly think leaking while running is just caused by a weak pelvic floor and they need to do more Kegels to strengthen it….

The pelvic floor is one part of the muscle system that makes up your deep core, it provides stability and support for your organs as well as for your urinary function. Above your organs is your diaphragm and on the sides are your abdominals. 

When you breathe in: Your diaphragm and pelvic floor both relax downward and your ribs and belly expand outward. 

When you breathe out:  they naturally draw up and in. 

The motion of breathing in and out is important as it helps to absorb impact and manage pressure. 

If you grip your abs or squeeze your pelvic floor to try to prevent urine leaking, you can actually make it worse.

If you do have weakness in your pelvic floor, doing lots of Kegel exercises alone isn’t the answer. 

In this video, I share a breathing technique that you can use at home that can make a huge difference.

Slow Progress

At Coach Parry, we highly recommend taking things super slow. Run your easy runs extra easy and try alternating running and walking. (Walk when you notice you’re not maintaining the right form or breathing). This strategy will help you feel the correct breathing pattern and body alignment. 

In this video, you’ll discover how to implement a run/walk strategy in your training.

Remember, there are lots of possible reasons your pelvic floor might not be functioning the right way. Overly tight muscles are more common than weakness, so booking an appointment with a Pelvic Floor Physical Specialist can tailor a program that will help just for you.

Sub- 50 min 10 km…  Sub- 25 min 5km’s…  and Sub-3-hour marathon’s…

Most women going through menopause feel like their days of breaking Personal Records are over. 

We’re here to tell you that they most certainly are not

In fact, they’re just beginning. 

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

We’ve all heard it before… “Middle-aged women should rather opt for a gentle stroll” and that’s what you’re told to believe. 

The truth is that middle-aged women, who are going through menopause are strong and capable of a lot more than society makes them out to be.

The Link Between Running and Menopause

Throughout the different stages of menopause, women experience a dramatic drop in estrogen levels. This can negatively affect a women’s physiological assets, such as lean muscles, strong bones, and the ability to bounce back from a run with restorative, protein-synthesizing sleep.

Here’s some good news for runners going through menopause: Hormonal changes are easier to combat compared to the unstoppable guarantee of time. 

It has been discovered that a lack of estrogen (not aging) is the reason for bone deterioration, fat gain, and lean-muscle loss associated with menopause. 

Running is a fantastic way to stimulate bone growth and has many other benefits that help contribute to combating the symptoms of menopause. 

Bone Density & Running

Visualize your muscles and how strengthening makes them bigger. This is how your bones can become stronger if you put stress on them. 

Our bodies build bone mass when we apply stress along the entire length of our bones. This happens when we run. 

Bones build structure in response to the stresses applied to them, and for the weight-bearing bones, such as those in our legs and hips. The greater the stress, the greater the bone-building response, which is what menopausal women need.

Bear in mind, runners with Osteoarthritis might find running on some days to be too high impact and painful, which is why we suggest following a training program that includes ongoing support, feedback, and adjustment with a particular focus on the correct type of strength training for Osteoarthritis, as well as advice on recovery as recovery becomes even more important when someone has OA. 

Running helps women address the frustrating symptoms of menopause such as reducing hot flushes, improving sleep, and improving cardiovascular function. Running has even helped women alleviate pain in their joints as well as helped in combatting depression.

Is It Harder To Improve My Times During Menopause?

We’re not going to tell you that it’s harder because that depends on a lot of outlying factors, but we are going to tell you that by adapting your training program and by following these five pillars, your chances of running faster and recovering faster will be increased. 

Five Pillar Framework For Running Through Menopause

  1. Recovery
  2. Pacing/Intensity
  3. Strength Training
  4. Nutrition
  5. Consistency

Jump over to our blog: A Definitive Guide to running To, Through, and Long After Menopause, where we dive a lot deeper into each of these pillars.

Estrogen plays a key role in the way your blood vessels expand and constrict (Vasodilation) according to what is happening inside & outside your body. 

Trying to increase your speed may feel “harder” because your blood pressure and temperature perception shift. Your running may also feel more difficult because having lower estrogen levels triggers your body to store fat instead of building muscle. 

It may seem like trying to break your PR’s while experiencing hot flushes, joint pain, muscle loss, and other symptoms of menopause would only be a difficult & unrealistic task, but the truth is that menopause doesn’t mean the end of being a competitive athlete. By modifying your routine, you can continue running longer and stronger through perimenopause into post-menopause.

How Is Menopause Affecting My Speed?

Menopause causes chaos to your physiological assets, it feels like such a setback to know that you have literally spent a lifetime building strong bones, lean muscles, and the ability to recover properly with an adequate night’s sleep; yet menopause can just deteriorate it all within a few years. 

Menopause can affect your speed, it depends on which way you look at it though.
In one way, yes, menopause can make you slower, if you allow it to – by not making any adaptations to your training.
On the other hand, yes, menopause can affect your speed, positively.

Coach Parry has helped and witnessed countless women train their way through menopause and beat the times they were running before they started going through menopause. These women followed the five pillars as mentioned above, as well as the Coach Parry Running Through Menopause Masterplan.

How To Run Faster Through Menopause

The key is to be mindful that menopause is completely natural and that even if some parts are challenging, there are better runs ahead of you as long as you understand that there are new ways to train as a 50 plus-year-old female runner. 

The Way To Run Faster Through Menopause Is To:

  • Ensure you give yourself enough time to recover from your runs sufficiently. 
  • Ensure that you are running your easy runs EASY. 
  • Ensure that you give your bones a multi-directional load via Strength Training
  • Ensure that you are eating sufficiently to fuel your training.
  • Ensure that you are consistent in following your training and recovery schedule. 

That’s just the 10,000-foot view, we dig deeper into each of these in this Running Through Menopause article.

How To Avoid Injury While Running Faster Through Menopause

  1. Strength Training is Priority number 1. (Free Strength Training Plan)
  2. Avoid uneven surfaces.
  3. Avoid an incorrect running technique, poor running style can increase the risk of injuries.
  4. Manage expectations.
  5. Make sure you recover well!
  6. Follow a structured training plan to ensure you are progressing your running slowly and properly.

Why You Should Continue Running Your Way Through Menopause

Menopause is a fact of life and it will affect each woman differently, but staying fit can help with many symptoms, what’s even better is that all the positive benefits of running (physical and mental wellbeing) still apply.

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…

 

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:

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…

Getting older is unfortunately a fact of life. But does our running ability need to deteriorate as we age?

In this article, we’re going to look at the reasons we run slower as we get older…

…and most importantly, what we can do counteract that process so that you can run faster well into your fifties (and beyond).

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 eminent thereafter.

Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. Vol: 27:12 (2017)

Nonetheless, we have seen a shift in the age demographics in endurance events in the last few years. In South Africa for example, more than 40% of the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon field is over the age of 40 (Schwabe et al, 2018 1).

And a recent article in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found the median age of ultrarunners doing their first ultra-marathon to be 37 years old, however the median age at which ultramarathon runners finished their first ultramarathon is 42 years old. Other stats have shown 50% of marathoners to be over the age of 40 years old.2

Have I reached my peak when I reach a certain age?

So, if the general entry and age of the runner is increasing, it begs the question – at what age are we most likely to reach our (own relative) peak performance?

Why do we slow down as we get older? Is it possible to delay that onset of ageing by exercising more? Is training harder and/or more the answer? Let’s dive into some of the physiology around this.

“It has been shown that the ageing process starts as early as the third decade of life”

That is 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. (For me at the tender age of 35 this was quite something to hear)

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.

So, it is not that exercise will change/slow down the decline, but consistency in exercise will still allow for other more peripheral adaptations to occur. 

The physiological changes associated with ageing are nicely summarized in the diagram below (Durstine J.L. et al, 20163).

For the sake of this article,  we will only focus on the 4 really important components needed for endurance running:

1. Your Max Heart Rate gradually decreases (Cardiovascular)

As we get older, we start to see a decline in maximum heart rate. Most age-related HRmax formula 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.

It is important for you to figure out your HRmax with the use of a laboratory test or maximum exhaustive field-based test.

But either way, we do know this to be true that an individual’s maximum heart rate does decline as we get older.

2. 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.

The correlation between a high VO2max and performance has been well covered in the literature and so a high VO2max is generally related to excellent performances.

It could, therefore, be assumed that with the decline in VO2peak as you age, that your running performance could also decline. (More on this a little later as to why this is not completely true)

3. A decrease in muscle mass and strength & power (Musculoskeletal)

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

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

This is as a result of training and very much of a “use it or lose it” mentality within the physiology. It has also been shown that the rate of muscle atrophy (loss) accelerates after 55 years but the peak force production relative to the muscle size stays the same (Häkkinen K. et al, 1991 4).

Strength training on the Coach Parry app

Therefore, this suggests that as get older your amount of force produced will be relative to how much muscle mass you have and because we tend to lose muscle mass as we get older (especially after 55 years old) this force production will decrease.

Therefore, it is vital to perform some focused strength training so as to not allow for such large muscle mass loss to occur. (You can download our free master’s strength training plan by clicking here or on the image)

4. 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 of a runner over the age of 50 is key to ensure longevity and health of the runner.

Injuries & the masters runner

There are very few studies on injury prevalence within masters endurance runners currently.

But what we do know is that this group of runners is at a high risk of musculoskeletal injury, more specifically the incidence of overuse injuries is higher in masters athletes compared to younger athletes (Langer PR. 2015 5).

Therefore, training loads along with scientifically periodized training programs is key to ensuring less of these overuse injuries occur.

The need for increased strength work, including balance and “foot core” is vital to compliment this training program to help prevent these injuries. Strength work is recommended at least twice a  week. (If you haven’t yet, download our free strength training plan for masters runners)

Health Screenings of the Masters Runner

If we can step away from the physiology and performance for a moment. Sadly, at most major endurance events of late, we tend to hear news stories about athletes who died during the event.This is happening worldwide and unfortunately, the numbers of these incidents are increasing. Most recent data shows that the average incidence of sudden death during an endurance running event is 1 / 100 000 participants worldwide (Schwellnus, SAFER, BJSM, 20176).

Masters runners are obviously at higher risk for sudden cardiac arrest in these events and therefore it is highly recommended that a full health screening, including a 12 lead ECG, be done with your sports physician prior to competing at any of these events.

Let’s paint a more positive picture for the masters runner…

This is all painting a pretty negative picture for your physiology if you’re a master’s runner…

…So here’s the good news:

There is scientific literature, measured across 29 years of the New York Marathon, that shows the running times for men over the age of 64 and women over the age of 44 have not yet plateaued, therefore showing that these athletes have not yet reached their performance limits (Lepers et al, 2012 7) and that masters athletes are constantly performing at a higher level.

But how can this be with all the physiological decline described above? I’ll explain this using 3 different scientific conclusions, stay with me here as we go through the sciency stuff, the conclusion for you as a master’s athlete is worth it, I promise.

While it seems that ageing causes everything in the physiology to decline, one thing very clear in the literature is that the mitochondria (which are essentially the endurance powerhouses of the cells) are still very responsive to training (Casuso et al, 2020 8).

And so, if runners continue to train and increase levels of aerobic activity this will have a positive adaptation on the mitochondria of the cell. This is great news because it shows how adaptation is still possible, even with other physiological declines. 

One study comparing athletes of different age groups ie. 35-44 / 45-54 / 56-76  (albeit in cycling and not running) showed a decline in VO2max and average power (watts) (Pfeiffer et al, 2008 9) as the age increased. However, the comparison of thresholds (as a % of VO2max), as well as the cycling economy, showed very little difference across the age groups.

Therefore suggesting that while there is a change at a central capacity, the ability to sustain efforts at a submaximal capacity remains the same as you get older. 

Lastly, a study that matched younger & masters athletes according to their best times (i.e. both are able to run a 40 minute 10km or both are able to run a 90 min 21km) again showed that the masters athletes had a decreased VO2max and HRmax when compared to their younger counterparts, which we’ve spoken about at length already.

However, and this is awesome,  the masters athletes had increased capillary density, measured in many different ways. And higher densities of mitochondrial enzymes (Coggan et al, 1990Stephen Seiler 2020 10).

So what does all this scientific jargon mean?

Essentially the masters athletes who are matched for time / performance with their younger counterparts are able to compensate for their lower VO2max and HRmax with improved peripheral / skeletal muscle adaptation.

The takeaway from these 3 studies is that continuous adaptation can occur even though most of the powerhouse physiology needed for endurance performance naturally decline due to ageing.

This means relative performances can continue to improve as we age and each individual masters athlete can continue to reach their own performance limit.

Let’s take Ria van Wyk, for example, one of our Team CoachParry athletes (see Ria’s story here). Even though Ria started running late into her 50’s she has been smashing PR after PR (most recently an impressive 45 min 10km at the age of 59! – no I’m not jealous at all).

We as coaches here at Coach Parry believe it’s for the following reasons:

  1. Ria follows our Faster Beyond 50 Training Framework religiously! That includes the number of training days, the pace suggested for each session and the recommended rest & recovery. 
  2. Ria does ALL the strength training sessions that are included in the training framework. No matter how busy her lifestyle is she always makes the time to do the strength training sessions.
  3. Ria is consistently consistent with her training. She hardly misses a session (rest days also being a “session”) and as a result, has had some fantastic results over the last year or two!

The moral of the story? Be more like Ria!

And so, every 4 weeks when it’s a Time Trial week, my goal is to beat Ria who is 25 years my senior! The point here is that with consistent training (and the correct training) the masters runner has every reason to believe that their best is yet to come!

What does this all mean for the runner over 50 who wants to run faster?

Let’s tie it all together…

While there is still a notable physiological decline as we get older, the body still shows great aptitude for adaptation if provided with the right stimulus.  If the correct training intensities and volume of training is followed and complemented with good strength training at least twice a week you can actually run better as you get older.

There is a saying that children are not small adults and so we shouldn’t train them as such, the same should ring true for runners over 50. Of course, the basic training principles still apply but it is key to manipulate the volume and intensity of the program in order to run fast as you age.

The physiological declines in strength need to be overcome and it is recommended that at least 2 sessions of strength work be implemented into an athletes program. Careful consideration of strength, balance, foot intrinsic and co-ordination is extremely beneficial to the ageing runner.

Lastly, the masters runner is far from reaching their peak performance. With the correct loading and prescription, the best is yet to come…

If you’re interested in learning more about slowing down the impact of ageing on your running then join us for our free upcoming Faster Beyond 50 Masterclass. You can get all the details by clicking on the image below: 

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…

References

  1. Karen Schwabe, Martin Schwellnus, Sonja Swanevelder, Esme Jordaan, Wayne Derman & Andrew Bosch (2018) Leisure athletes at risk of medical complications: outcomes of pre-participation screening among 15,778 endurance runners – SAFER VII, The Physician and Sportsmedicine, 46:4, 405-413 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00913847.2018.1505569
  2. Running USA: 2013 Annual Half-Marathon Report. http://www.runningusa.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=news.details&ArticleId=333&returnTo=annual-reports. Accessed May 5 2013
  3. American College of Sports Medicine, Durstine J.L., Moore G., Painter P., Roberts S. 4th ed. Human Kinetics; Champaign, IL: 2016. ACSM’s exercise management for persons with chronic diseases and disabilities. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01924788.2012.677794
  4. Häkkinen K, Häkkinen A. Muscle cross-sectional area, force production and relaxation characteristics in women at different ages. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1991;62(6):410‐414. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00626612
  5. Langer PR. Considerations in treating physically active older adults and aging athletes. Clin Podiatr Med Surg. 2015;32(2):253‐260. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0891842214001104?via%3Dihub
  6. Schwellnus M, Kipps C, Roberts WO, et al Medical encounters (including injury and illness) at mass community-based endurance sports events: an international consensus statement on definitions and methods of data recording and reporting. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2019;53:1048-1055. https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/53/17/1048
  7. Lepers R, Cattagni T. Do older athletes reach limits in their performance during marathon running?. Age (Dordr). 2012;34(3):773‐781. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3337940/
  8. Casuso RA, Huertas JR. The emerging role of skeletal muscle mitochondrial dynamics in exercise and ageing. Ageing Res Rev. 2020;58. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S156816371930460X?via%3Dihub
  9. Peiffer JJ, Abbiss CR, Chapman D, Laursen PB, Parker DL. Physiological characteristics of masters-level cyclists. J Strength Cond Res. 2008;22(5):1434‐1440. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18714246/?from_single_result=physiological+characteristics+of+masters+level+cyclists&expanded_search_query=physiological+characteristics+of+masters+level+cyclists
  10. Coggan AR, Spina RJ, Rogers MA, et al. Histochemical and enzymatic characteristics of skeletal muscle in master athletes. J Appl Physiol (1985). 1990;68(5):1896‐1901. https://journals.physiology.org/doi/abs/10.1152/jappl.1990.68.5.1896 Stephen Seiler, Does our endurance machinery slow down at different rates as we get older? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzphy5EN8lg Accessed 17 March 2020.