Do’s And Don’ts For Masters Runners


Save yourself for your harder days. As a younger runner you may have been accustomed to running hard as often as three times a week, and even sneaking in back-to-back high-intensity days, e.g., a Saturday race followed by a Sunday long run. As tissues inexorably take more and more time to repair and adapt, such endeavors are best left to the next generation. Be sure to be as disciplines on your recovery days as you are on the track; don’t be afraid to “jog.”

Maximize the gains of pure speed training. Arguments rage over whether high intensity is a more likely cause of running injuries than high mileage. This is a false dichotomy, but what’s certain is that you need to get the most out of as little stress as possible to retain or reclaim the competitive asset that erodes the fastest in older runners: basic speed. Doing six to ten striders about 20 seconds long in which you build up from 5K pace to a near-all-out-sprint is a superior means of speed maintenance.

Go heavy on the grass, lighter on the hard stuff. According to Magill, splitting mileage evenly between roads and trails is ideal, since the advantages of each combat the drawbacks of the other. “Trails feel the best, but the uneven surface can eventually cause problems in itself,” says Magill. “Roads solve the uneven-surface problem, but asphalt is brutal on aging runners’ musculoskeletal systems.” He also suggests that hill repeats, for those who do them, be performed on trails, mainly to ease the jarring of the return trip down.

Choose your races judiciously. Prolific racers find that as Masters, they either have to reduce the number of races they do, their average length, or both. If you’re more a 5K type, acknowledge that it’s best to go to the well only once or twice a month. If you lean toward the marathon, take care not to dig too deep in your build-up races, which themselves tend to be longer events, and unless you do marathons more to complete them than to record fast times (and even then), consider doing at most two a year.

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