Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Getting Older Can Make You Slow(er) AF, But Does It Have To?

For the past two to three years (well, since I turned 50), I've become a slower runner. Shocker. Any one else? Raise your hand if you can relate.

I can't blame myself. It's a proven fact that as you age you get slower. Why else are age group requirements for Boston "easier" as you get older? The BAA has to know what they are talking about.

In actuality, shit happens to the body as we age. Gravity takes hold and things like boobs and nut sacs droop. Hair (including pubes apparently - my mom of all people told me this) get gray. Wrinkles show up making road maps across our foreheads and around our mouths and eyes. Sometimes we pee ourselves, or worse. Hence the enormous number of Depends commercials you see during the evening news.  Don't even get me started on my neck. It is becoming a shit show.

Depend FIT-FLEX Incontinence Underwear for Men, Maximum Absorbency, S/M, Gray (Packaging may vary)
I think this guy as "bigger" issues than wetting his pants
But, there is also physiology to why we might become slower as we age. As the years pile on, the body, unfortunately, tends to break down. Our ability to take in oxygen decreases. We lose flexibility. Muscle strength lessens. 

Just shoot me now.

Woah...wait. Let's knock off the pity party.

The thing is, once you buy into the fact that you are going to be slower and it is simply your fate, something psychologically takes hold. We begin to not only accept this as truth, but it becomes our excuse for slowing down. We basically give in as our minds continually tell us a story about our limitations.

Again, there is validity to what happens to the body as we age. But we can fight it like hell. Sure, maybe we'll never see those times we did 20 or 30 yeas ago, but there is still hope.

There's a reason I was inspired to write this post.

I'm always floored by older runners who are kicking ass, but last weekend I saw it up front and personal. I did a ten mile trail race. Granted it was not super technical and didn't have a ton of elevation gain,  ten miles is ten miles and there were still a couple of decent climbs. This was my longest race back since getting injured in May, so I was happy to finish in 1:40, good enough for 2nd in my age group.

Later, Ken and I were looking at the results. Guess who WON the race? Take into account that there were a ton of youngsters running this race.

Dan - 57 years old - with a pace of 7:18

The first woman came in 5th overall with a pace of 7:36

And then there's Mark who at age 67 came in 10th with a 7:52 average pace

I would love to hook up with these bad asses and find out their secret. My guess is they train hard including strength and cross training. They probably are also unwilling to make the excuse that age HAS to make them slower. They train their mental muscles too.

So, what can we do? First, train our brains to believe. Strength train. Take our calcium. Keep moving. And, most importantly, just because we slow down does not mean we can't still have big goals and strive for them!

What have you noticed in your body as you've gotten older?

Are you slower than we were 10, 20, 30 years ago?



  1. I had all these thoughts today on my run. There are a couple of women here--I call them my nemisises. Nemises? Nemisi? Anyhoo, they are still ridiculously fast. I don't get it. It's like someone poked a hole in me and sucked out all the speed. Wouldn't you love to have some of that again?

  2. Yes! Slower. But the thing I notice most is the increased recovery time, and it's easier to get injured. Then you get in the game of trying to maintain fitness and not re-injure yourself. You know how that one goes. Actually, now that I think about it, I'm faster than I was for any period more than about 10 years ago. That's because I was a couch potato slug, back then. And didn't I just read about Gene Dykes running a sub 3 hour marathon at age 70??? Sheesh.

  3. One advantage of only having started to run seriously when I was already 50 is that I don't have anything to compare to/ feel bad about :)

  4. It depends on how long you have been running. If you started older like age 55 like me, you will still be getting faster...for how long? Who knows.

    Besides speed is relative. What's fast for me is probably slow for another and vice versa.

    The important thing is to keep running and obsess about our pace.

  5. My favorite old-lady-runner perk are the tan lines I get from the wrinkles above my knees - when I bend my knee and the skin stretches flat, it's all stripey:)
    I started running at 48 - my marathon PR was at age 53. Seven years later I'm a whole lot slower, but thank goodness for the Age Grade Calculator! My training goal is to stay at or near the same AG percentage as I age-- that keeps my goals realistic and takes (a little of) the sting out of my slower paces.

  6. I started running at age 40 and got faster every year, BQ'd last December at age 47. Since then, my speed has decreased DRAMATICALLY and I am so unhappy about it! I've been wondering if menopause is the culprit...

  7. Excellent article Beth! I am 53 and at 47 ran two Triathlons and I would say I was at the "top of my game" and felt the fittest I had ever been. When I turned 50, I was diagnosed with Osteoarthritis in my Neck, Lower Lumbar and Right Hip. I was in disbelief and pissed. I KEPT RUNNING and experienced an increase in injuries. I was getting to know my physiotherapist a little too well and she finally became my "priest" (priestess?) and said..."Uh I think you better consider not running anymore..." - I was stunned but she was right. It was actually mentally difficult to hear those words HOWEVER happy ending as I basically began to train my body in a different way, so even though I no longer run I cycle, swim, and do cross training / TRX etc. I do miss it from time to time, and not everyone gets arthritis, but as I tell all my clients, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. You are correct, there are many people that continue to run into their 70's and 80's and inspire many. Everyone is different. Women especially need to manage Hormones (and depletion of) as we age so a good Nutrition Plan is essential. (and I hate to tell you but your mother was right about the "lower regions" LOL - That's why we wax girl!! Wishing you speed and strength!

  8. For me its injury and recovery time. I had a nerve irritation and hamstring in May and now have a tibia fracture I am recovering from. I am 65 and felt I was playing it smart with conditioning etc. and yet here I am.. Both were acute injuries. My advice to myself is prepare and keep moving no matter the speed.

  9. I am 55 and just completed marathon #20 in Toronto on Sunday past. I was able to complete the race at my 3rd fastest time and qualified for my 3rd Boston. Yes, there are days that you feel you are slowing down but if the passion is there and the work is put in, anything is possible. In any event, we are all blessed that we can go for a run and run in various races....others cannot but would love to do what we do.

  10. I am turning 50 in November and running my first marathon in January. I am going into 50 kicking its butt instead of taking it easy. But I have noticed my body does seem to be more sore during this training than it has been for others. And I am slower but doesn't matter. I'm doing it anyway!

  11. That's a great photo of you running through the water. I love water crossings.

    I reached that pace in my 50s so I know it's possible to get faster. Still, the muscle loss is a clanger. Although I'm bad at it, I really think one has to give attention to lifting weights to remain injury free.