Running is a lifelong sport that allows you to continue to challenge yourself even in old age. You can start as early as grade school and keep going as long as you can put one foot in front of the other.
Our Bodies Inexorably Decline As We Age
However, we have to accept the fact what ever we might try to keep fit and youthful, our bodies inevitably decline. It’s a process that on average begins sometime in our 30s. The rate of decline gradually increases to about 0.7 percent per year (with slight variations among events and between women and men) all through our 40s, 50s and 60s.
As we age our muscle mass decreases, bones density declines and bones become weaker. Accumulated wear and tear makes us less flexible. Consequently, the natural healing efficiency goes down, including our recovery-abilities from hard workouts, something we should recognize so that we do not spiral into an endless cycle of overtraining and injury.
How To Safely Run With Strength And Speed At 60 And Beyond?
So you’ve decided to start running, but are apprehensive about getting into running at advanced age. You do need to take a few precautions at 60. Read on here about the 7 effective tips that will help you to take up running safely in your golden years.
Tip # 1 – Check With Your Doctor
If you want to start running for the first time or take up running after a long gap, it’s important to start out slowly.
First, you should talk to your doctor about your plan and take note of any concerns that he or she might have.
Tip # 2 – Build Strength
After age 30, we start losing strength. By the age 60, we will have naturally lost 30 percent of our strength — if we do not strength train to counter that. Because this loss affects our lower body more, strength training is important for running performance, especially as we grow old.
If you have not done strength training in the past, begin by doing muscle-strengthening exercises 2 to 3 days in a week. Lunges are an effective choice to strengthen your lower body, and pushups focus more on muscles in your upper body.
Tip # 3 – Work On Improving Speed
The two key factors that cause you run slower in your 60s are:
(i) Natural loss of fast-twitch muscle fiber; and
(ii) Age-related decrease in stride length.
Whereas strength training will help minimize fast-twitch muscle fiber shrinkage, climbing stairs or hills is effective for increasing your stride length.
Incorporate hill training one day in a week to strengthen your calf muscles and build up power of your leg drive. This will lengthen your stride and improve your pace.
Tip # 4 – Recovery After Running
It’s crucial that you accept the fact that older adults don’t recover as quickly as the younger ones. So when running over 60, you should prioritize recovery more than when you were younger and build this into your running schedule.
The key is only to do the next running session when you’re recovered. After 60, it’s a good practice to begin taking extra rest days, even if that means taking 2 or 3 days off consecutively – if you feel a warning twinge.
Tip # 5 – Stretching Before And After You Run
Make sure to warm up your body before each run and stretch your muscles afterwards. As you age your body’s flexibility decreases, and stretching makes up for that.
Tip # 6 – Stay Hydrated
As we age, our body’s water content decreases. This enhances the dehydration risk, and the consequences become more serious. Hydration becomes a key factor in your 60s and later. Drink water before and after you run. Consider buying a water bottle belt so that you can carry water bottle along with you when you run outdoors.
Tip # 7 – Set Realistic Running Goals
Set your own running goals that are practical keeping in view your current physical fitness condition, and not based on established common practices or other runners’ standards. Running after you are 60 is more about meeting your own goals than competing with your rivals, which means a desire to constantly improve on your performance.
You can set your running schedules and goals with the help your doctor or personal trainer.
Note: This is my third post in the series “Running For Seniors”. The earlier two posts were (i) “Difference Between Running And Jogging” and “Benefits Of Running For Seniors With How To Begin Instructions”.