A wealth of documentation proves that running well into Grand Masters age categories brings far more benefits to the body than risks, particularly since the reality of degeneration is inevitable. Running can delay and reduce many of the impacts of aging in exponential measure. A Stanford University study supports these anecdotal conclusions. Master runners who experienced heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, some cancers, and neurological ailments had those ailments on average 16 years later than non-runners. As a group, they experience better mobility, coordination, weight control, bone density, muscle strength, and an overall sense of well-being. So forget the calendar years and bring on the future with these tips for success as a senior runner:
For your body
1. Take extra care in selecting your shoes. Fit seniors tend to have lower body fat. One place of critical effect is reduced padding on the bottom of their feet. It’s a good idea to get fitted at a specialty running store. Don’t hesitate to ask to test newer cushioned rides.
2. The fit of your running gear is key to more than just comfort. With your body softening around the edges, the size of your jog bra and style of your shorts shouldn’t be left to chance. Bouncing isn’t fun for men or women.
For your performance
3. STRETCH before and after every run. Every run. Every run.
4. Pay attention to your body signals, and act on them. Don’t try to tough it out and run through specific pains or illness.
5. Plan rest and recovery days. Don’t cheat on them by doing yard work or garage cleaning. Rest (and specifically adequate sleep) gives the body time to actually strengthen itself.
6. Vary the workout. Running is joyful, but some yoga, swimming, cycling and hiking can maintain fitness while balancing the specific body-part, muscle-group exertion.
7. Choose less (but higher quality) speed workouts and more sustained distance/time efforts to counter the natural decline in aerobic capacity.
For your mind
8. Senior runners can typically take the time to enjoy many more of the fringe benefits of running. This helps to keep motivation, satisfaction, and general well-being high.
9. Consider scheduling a race every so often to set a timeframe for fitness preparedness and to be able to work towards achieving measurable goals.
10. Join a running club to add the special social aspects and camaraderie to your running.
11. Plan a family run. Add it to the next family reunion, wedding event, graduation get-together. See what setting a great example introduces.
12. Pick running courses and race venues that will take you to new places and different vistas. Make your run an adventure.
13. Volunteer at a running event on your rest day. The excitement will be contagious and a great motivator.
Regardless of the reason for lacing up a pair of running shoes, masters runners are making strides in achieving the greatest physical and mental well-being possible. For an overall excellent quality of life, hit the roads and trails.