How aging runners can fight back against the process of slowing down — The Know

Weight training is the way to go as you age. (Seth McConnell, Denver Post file)

Growing older inevitably means growing slower, even for lifelong runners, but there are some things they can do to slow down the process of diminishing performances.

As our cardiovascular systems age, capillary density in the muscles decreases, hearts don’t pump as much blood per stroke, and maximum heart rates drop, said Jared Berg, an exercise physiologist at the University of Colorado Sports Medicine and Performance Center. Blood volume can decrease, and blood vessels become less pliable. There also is a loss of muscle mass, and that’s where runners can fight back against Father Time.

Strength training, coupled with drills that promote flexibility and range of motion, can offset some of the losses that come with aging.

“Some of these things are preventable,” Berg said. “Just because we are aging, we don’t have to accept that we are losing muscle mass. But if you look at the population of endurance runners, especially ultra runners, they are losing muscle mass as they age.”

Strength training is something many runners ignore, but there are gains to be made in the weight room for older runners. Berg recently saw a story about veteran marathoner who finished an Ironman triathlon and attributed his success to the addition of CrossFit strength training.

“I’m not going to say CrossFit is the way to do it,” Berg said. “Any general strength training program would work the same, as long as you are deliberate and you’re progressive in building your strength.”

Berg recommends squats, leg presses and hamstring curls, along with drills that promote explosiveness and stability such as box jumps. He also recommends sprint drills, such as doing a series of 40-meter strides that build up to near full-sprint speed.

“You can build your way up into it,” Berg said. “You’ll be amazed. You’ll have more speed, a little more elasticity in your muscles, a little more explosiveness, a little more power. You’re covering more distance with every foot stride.”

The aging runner is also more susceptible to injury, so it’s important to start out light and build patiently, thinking long term.

“But sure enough, in six to eight weeks, you’re going to be ready to do a full-on sprint workout,” Berg said. “You’re basically turning the clock back.”

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *