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Smarter Training for Older Runners

Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result: That’s the definition of insanity! Yet, when I see how older runners train for long-distance endurance events such as the marathon, I can sense frustration in them by the fact that they can’t get the same results now from the same kind of training they’ve always done.

Approaching a goal like a marathon in the same way when they’re in their 60’s as they did in their 20’s? That route is just a little, well, crazy.

It’s perfectly OK to still want to do marathons or other types of long-distance runs. But not all training programs are created equal – and what I mean by that is that not all of them are right for us as we get older.

A Program with Smarter Training for Older Runners

Some programs will have you starting up your mileage right out of the gate at 30 miles a week and rapidly building up from there. In just Week 1? Are you kidding me? What if you have a smaller frame, eat a diet very low in fat and don’t do any weight training? With any long distance endurance sport like running, especially marathons, you’re “eating” muscle tissue to perform in the sport. The next time you watch a world-class sprinter like Usain Bolt, check out the muscles on him. He’s got a body type that’s muscular and made for the explosion required for short distances.

You may not have the body of a Usain Bolt and breaking sprint records right and left, but there are many things you can do to train smarter for longer distances. Because when you have a diet low in fat and not building muscle, you’re setting yourself up to be slower during a race and more fatigued more often. Let’s change that.

Start with your diet, not just your distance.

If I was to increase the protein and fat in your diet – not hot dogs and potato chips, but good protein and fat, that would be a terrific first change. At the same time, we’d want to take a look at diminishing your consumption of carbohydrates.

How about we mix up your training too?

Runners tend to just run, run, run, run and run. And yet, they should be doing more cross training so they aren’t fatiguing the same muscles over and over again. So I’d limit the number of days you ran – such as three days a week – while incorporating cycling to mix up your training and increase your aerobic capacity. By using different muscles through an exercise such as cycling, you’re helping yourself from a cardiovascular perspective while encouraging more time for muscle recovery.

Rather than 6-7 days of long-distance running, your week might look something like this:

Running 3 days a week (1 day of long-distance, 1 day of high intensity interval training and 1 day of steady state running)

Cycling 2 days a week

Weight Lifting 1 day a week

Diet: Increase fat and protein

You may be surprised by the decrease in mileage here, but we’re also ramping up the intensity and adding cross training.

With the help of this kind of training plan, I have seen clients well into their 60’s qualify for some of the top marathons in America. It’s a thrill for me to see them training for the Boston Marathon or training for the Chicago Marathon.

The fact is, when you hit a certain age and recognize the same training you’ve been doing your whole life isn’t benefitting you nearly as much, you have to make a change. As my clients reach a certain age, there’s really no better time to bring weight training into the mix while changing their diet so that they’re increasing their “fuel source” of protein and fat as well as decreasing carbohydrates.

None of us have the same bodies in our 50’s and 60’s as we did in our 20’s and 30’s – but that simply calls for adjustments. And never giving up.

Don’t let age discourage you from your next big goal – whether that’s losing 20 lbs. or running the Chicago Marathon. When it comes to getting back on the right path for nutrition and exercise for where you are in life, nobody can put you in alignment quite like BodyByG’s Giulia Isetti. With her background in biochemistry and sports nutrition, Giulia brings the best of both worlds to put you in the very best position to succeed on many fronts.

So why not chat with Giulia about your challenges today with a complimentary evaluation? Call 708.267.7173 or email g@coachingbyg.com.

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