With my 46th birthday just around the corner (30 of those years spent as a competitive distance runner) and coaching for the past two decades, I feel I’m in a relatively good position to offer some advice around training as a Masters Runner.
For the sake of the blog lets just define a Masters Athlete as 40 years and older.
Firstly, I think there’s two types of Masters runners. 1) – the runner that grew up running through school, continued into senior ranks, and is familiar with the club racing environment and has a relatively good understanding of basic training principles. 2) – the runner who took up running later in life (say past 5-10 years), started off to simply improve their fitness, and progressed towards participating in running events / marathons, and has limited knowledge around training fundamentals. For the purposes of this blog, and to offer the reader some benefit, I’m going to focus on the second type of Masters Runner.
The rapid growth in masters running.
As a coach I’ve been blown away by the growth I’ve seen in the running industry and the amount of new people taking up running.
It’s exciting to see others experience the amazing benefits running brings to our lives, and I personally get a huge amount of satisfaction supporting newer runners in their running journey.
Working in a specialist running shoe shop has also allowed me to see first hand just how many different types of people, from a variety of walks of life, have taken up the pursuit of running. A large proportion of these new runners are in that Masters category, both female and male. Quite often the female masters runner is returning to some regular activity such as running post having a child, and the male has taken up running to help lose some weight and regain some fitness.
The similarity being that before too long they complete their first Park Run, then Fun Run, and the rest is history - they’ve got the running bug!
However as is the case with commencing any new endeavour, there’s also some risks involved, and for the new Masters runner that risk is injury.
When I turned 40 I recall having one of the best racing seasons I’d had for a long time. I was running 120-130km per week, doing double run days, hitting some great numbers in quality sessions and for the most part achieving some great race results – not your normal mid life crisis!
However through some introspection and knowing how much I loved my running and wanted to keep running, I came to the realisation that to continue running well into a new decade my current training approach wasn’t sustainable. I needed to implement some training strategies and techniques into my normal training week, mostly to avoid injury and maintain consistency. Six years on I’m happy to report that I’m still training consistently and remain injury free.
Below are my Top Tips for Masters Runners to maintain consistency, reduce injury potential, and improve performance ;
1. Strength Training
Incorporate some Strength training into your weekly training structure - you’ll become a more resilient runner, move more efficiently and recover better from training and races.
2. Have a full rest day weekly – do this with a guilt free attitude. Structure it in just like a normal training session and be disciplined with it.
3. Cross Train. ideally an activity you are competent in and non weight bearing (i.e swimming / cycling / rower )
4. Keep moving on recovery segments in quality sessions - jog / float type recoveries seem to have a more positive impact on the integrity of our muscles / tendons / ligaments versus standing recovery sections.
5. Avoid too much running on softer surfaces – sounds counterproductive yes but research suggests there’s an increase risk in tendinopathy related injuries from excessive running on softer surfaces
6. Listen to your Intuition when running - our bodies have a great way of sending us messages and training signals when we train, the key is to pay attention to them.
7. Wear suitable running shoes - yes I’m biased here but use shoes that fit and feel good to you and complements your unique gait and footstrike.
8. Strive for long term consistency - sometimes to achieve this we actually have to change some things short term that can interrupt our current consistency, but it will help in the long run.
9. Don’t be afraid to seek some help – its easy to get a bit set in our ways the older (and wiser) we get. You can always teach an old dog new tricks!
About Sammy Mclean - Run2PB Coach.
Sam was a successful junior distance runner competing at a national level at both track and cross country events. In his late teens, he fell in love with Multi-Sport events, particularly Triathlon and Duathlon. Fast forward a few years and by his mid Twenties Sam had represented Australia twice at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, and raced numerous Ironman events around the world. He held a professional Triathlon licence from 1999-2001 achieving considerable success and gaining valuable experience as he moved into coaching full time. His racing experience spans close to 30 years. For the past two decades Sam has been a passionate running and triathlon coach utilising his academic study, personal experiences and learnings from previous coaches and mentors. Sam takes a very integrated approach with his coaching philosophy to ensure his athletes maximise their training and racing performances. He believes all athletes, regardless of ability, should have access to a high level of coaching support to assist in their athletic journey. He loves sharing his knowledge with everyone he coaches and has the unique skill set of combining both triathlon and running coaching
Sam also offers online tri-specific run coaching details can be found here.:
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