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Coach@triathlon

Over 50s running experiences

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About 4 years ago I was competing in the Callala Beach Triathlon on the NSW South Coast. I turned the last buoy in the swim and was heading to shore. I felt a wave surge over me and sprinted to crack the wave thinking this was a bit of good luck. As I felt my body move with the wave I lifted my head and looked down; only to see a 4 foot drop into 20 centimetres of water...in order to avoid a fractured neck I flipped over to land on the sandbank on my back to minimise the potential damage. As it turned out I landed on my left butt cheek with a huge thud. I knew it was bad but - thought bruising and soreness was all and that it would pass. Got through the race. That impact created a tendopathy that literally lasted the best part of 4 years. I couldn't run or ride properly in that time. Glute just seized and couldn't get any stride. Particularly up hill. Tried everything. So I started to work on re-training how I run on a treadmill. Taller, higher knees, faster cadence. mid-foot strike, and short fast intervals. In time the pain receded and I was able to resume running. One of the upsides of the 'new' style is the calf issues went away.

I'm 52 and understand the decline will be, and is inevitable. I can now run 4-5 times a week and manage about 50kms in that. one tempo run of an hour, a 75 minute 'long' run, 4 x 1 kilometre intervals on the treadmill with a 3k race pace effort to finish, and a couple of easier 50-60 minute runs. I'm one of those runners that have a love affair with the freedom and rawness it brings so it's far more than just triathlon training. I've started doing dead lifts and squats too which has made a huge difference as I've always been quad dominant on the bike and run. There are always niggles of course - but after 38 years in the sport there is always room for new insights and monitoring where we are at at any given time  as a means to keep going.

Edited by Coach@triathlon

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We have a number of 60+ YO athletes in our running group and a few of them are still quite handy runners.  The difference between them and the many others who have given up running over the years is a balanced, smooth movement with a noticeable high cadence.  They also seem to have a noticeable left/right body sway as compared to some  of the younger,  chest rigidly maintained at right angles, runners.  They also tend to invest time in some core work or yoga and they take days off regularly for recovery. They also tend to be consistent when training or racing and not to do rash or risky things - one of the best ways they stay injury free.

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4 minutes ago, Pete said:

We have a number of 60+ YO athletes in our running group and a few of them are still quite handy runners.  The difference between them and the many others who have given up running over the years is a balanced, smooth movement with a noticeable high cadence.  They also seem to have a noticeable left/right body sway as compared to some  of the younger,  chest rigidly maintained at right angles, runners.  They also tend to invest time in some core work or yoga and they take days off regularly for recovery. They also tend to be consistent when training or racing and not to do rash or risky things - one of the best ways they stay injury free.

I read Brad Kearns, a famous US triathlete from the 80s is aiming to try and break 60 seconds for 400m. He is 54. Little goals like that keep us going through middle age.

Swimming is also a good recovery tool. Tends to take out the tension build up in muscles and joints. The non-weight bearing movement is helpful.

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Wasn't able to run for 6+yrs due to knees.

Finally making some progress.  Just back from a brick in the gym - 45mins of solid 1-5min intervals on spin bike followed by 20mins of 4min run (6:39 pace)/1 min walk on treadmill.

The secrets for me so far have been.

1. Working out myself what the knee problem was and how to solve it. 

2. Regular strength work - like Coach, I was way way too quad dominant.  Deadlifts, kettlebell swings, crab walks and lately Bulgarian split squats over the past 4yrs have really helped.  I really struggled with leg strength work even in my 20s cos my knees did not like it, but there was probably a reason for that....my glutes/hips etc were weak= too much knee pressure.

3. Also like Coach, for the first time ever my calves went ballistic on return to even piddly running.  Calf raises on a step & calf compression sleeves seem to be solving that.

4. Mountain biking - awesome for balance & core.....and breaking bones :blush:

5. A ridiculously slow return to running.  Started with 10mins of 1min run (jog really @ 6:39 pace)/1 min walk.  Over 4mths now up to 20min of 4/1.  5kms will probably be my limit.....MTBing is much more fun.

Bulgarian split squat:

 

 

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Yer I leave it to you old blokes ...

very funny though you talk about high knee lift ..... so what you get 30mm of the ground now ?

still foaming as well ?😉

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10 minutes ago, oldschool69#2 said:

Yer I leave it to you old blokes ...

very funny though you talk about high knee lift ..... so what you get 30mm of the ground now ?

still foaming as well ?😉

25mm

and yes :)

I was talking to John Southwell the other day - we both agreed you were the most naturally gifted runner to come out of Cronulla. That's saying something given the long list of Kona winners and world champions that came from there. 

Us mere mortals just try to survive and keep running ;) 

Edited by Coach@triathlon

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Did my first marathon after a 13 year sabbatical last weekend,  swimming was the first thing I did monday morning.  Any speed work is done in a straight line, with a max of around 75-80% only.

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I’m 54 with a very unfortunate spinal history.  I’m slow compared to many on here but  highlights of my running this year.

Winchester 10km 43.40  ( 42.33 in 2018)

Bramley 20 miler 2:55

Reading half  1:38:30

The General 20km trail 1:48

Cannock Chase trail marathon 4:11 ( fastest Over 40 Male and 5th overall) 

RttK 88km ultra 13:49

Outright speed this year has suffered, my best ParkRun on my regular course was 21:07, whereas last year it was 20:47  but I still do regular speed work in training.

My fastest 5km (5.2 actually) last year, bizarrely was part of a duathlon at 20:19

 2-3 strength sessions per week at work gym.

Ive had some bad falls this year in trail running but body is mostly hanging together, a few years ago I had 9mths on the floor and needed help just walking. 

I will take anything I can get these days but becoming more interested in the event, rather than a speed milestone.

 

 

Edited by FatPom
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This is interesting to me as a 56 year old with niggly calves. Do you think that make/model of runners comes into play? 

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On 09/08/2019 at 11:37 AM, Coach@triathlon said:

25mm

and yes :)

I was talking to John Southwell the other day - we both agreed you were the most naturally gifted runner to come out of Cronulla. That's saying something given the long list of Kona winners and world champions that came from there. 

Us mere mortals just try to survive and keep running ;) 

Ah gezz don’t know what to say to that ! I don’t think I ever really ran to my potential of the bike though if I’m honest.

i was getting there in my last season in France just didn’t execute race smarts a missed opportunity in some races . Running fresh idback my 22 year old self against any triathlete some of those track sessions with Welch and Lessing were incredible.

Then I decided to go Surfing 😂

no regret though .

lets just go back to taking the piss it’s more fun 😂 

Now get started with those Chook raffles!!

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Running was always the weakest of the three disciplines for me relatively speaking but I was often able to hang in there to manage a podium place. After a lifetime of running I was forced to eventually give it up at age 68 due to a knee injury originally suffered in my early 20's.

As a result I did not consider myself a triathlete any more despite a career lasting 33 years. I felt a degree of depression as I felt I had lost something valuable to my lifestyle, health and self image. I kept swimming and cycling to retain some sanity and as the months rolled by, I began to accept that I would never line up at the start of another triathlon.

Then I began to feel relief that I would not have to put my body through that most stressful form of training and suffer the type of bone weariness and fatigue that comes from distance running within my ageing 80kg+ body. Now I am at peace with my exercise regime which keeps me as fit as I ever was and at the same weight as when I was running.

So when the time comes that you are forced to give up running - as it will be inevitable - embrace the fact that you can continue with the non-weight bearing disciplines of swimming and cycling to keep you from going mad.

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1 hour ago, Jon said:

Running was always the weakest of the three disciplines for me relatively speaking but I was often able to hang in there to manage a podium place. After a lifetime of running I was forced to eventually give it up at age 68 due to a knee injury originally suffered in my early 20's.

As a result I did not consider myself a triathlete any more despite a career lasting 33 years. I felt a degree of depression as I felt I had lost something valuable to my lifestyle, health and self image. I kept swimming and cycling to retain some sanity and as the months rolled by, I began to accept that I would never line up at the start of another triathlon.

Then I began to feel relief that I would not have to put my body through that most stressful form of training and suffer the type of bone weariness and fatigue that comes from distance running within my ageing 80kg+ body. Now I am at peace with my exercise regime which keeps me as fit as I ever was and at the same weight as when I was running.

So when the time comes that you are forced to give up running - as it will be inevitable - embrace the fact that you can continue with the non-weight bearing disciplines of swimming and cycling to keep you from going mad.

Thanks Jon, a great post. Running was my strongest but not great discipline and always had to try and catch-up to everyone who overtook me on the bike leg.

I don’t run anymore due to herniated disc that plays up,and just have to accept it, though the temptation to try again is still there.

 

 

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I am now 60 :wheelchair:. I have played competitive sport since I was eight years old, only missing 2009 from a bad bike crash. From memory, I played 13 years rugby league, 35 + years basketball (including training/playing 7 days a week for a number of years), triathlon 30 years and running races on and off for at least 10 - 12 years. I have never been light (lightest in the last 30 odd years was 82 kgs). I have been up to 114 kgs training. I am a slow runner now, however......

For the life of me I cannot work out why my knees and joints are not totally shot. Yes, the knees get sore occasionally. I spoke with the physio last year and she said just keep doing what you are doing as they only have the normal age wear/tear. I do a bit of weekly core/strength work, I take fish oil and gelatine. I take eight weeks off a year after the season then slowing get back into it. The only speed work I do is a fortnightly 6 km Sydney Corp Cup run, Everything else, including swimming and cycling, is either done at LSD or strength (e.g. paddles/swimming; hills & low cadence/cycling).I don't run a lot, maybe 30 kms in a big week.

I am not too sure whether it is genes, correct form or just too slow to injure myself.

That's me - not too bad a swimmer, mediocre cyclist and slow as a wet whistle runner. 

FM

PS: Coach@, maybe come back and visit us at the BOTP and stay injury free 😎

  

 

Edited by Flanman
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I think Flanno and me could be onto something with the slow running! Up until 1998 I was a pretty good runner. More sprinting and middle distance (800 & 1500m).

In 1998 I had a pretty serious motorcycle accident where I received a major crush injury to my lower leg. I also slashed my shin muscle to the bone (fark that hurt like a bitch). It took me until 2000 to be able to jog 5km and nice then, my running speed has been between an "angry walk" up to a fast jog. Still, I can run which is fantastic. Interestingly, since becoming a slow runner, I have never had a serious running injury. Back when I could run 5 km in20 mins and put together a 3hr 15 min marathon, I had ongoing injuries. 

I take Jons advice about not being able to run one day. It's happen to me before, I came back and I know how lucky I am to be able to still run at 57, when a lot of my peers can't. I enjoy my swimming, cycling and running; and plan to keep doing it as long as I can. Remember, Jim Ward showed us you can train for triathlon to the day you die ( my dark sense of humour is still up to the mark, lol). 

 

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Coach@ the literature shows us the main age related change in running is disproprotionate loss of calf muscle power. Muscle mass decreases generally over time, but recuction in calf strength is the main determinant of gait pattern change and running performance in aged runners.

Strength training to maintain and improve muscle mass is great bang for buck as you get to your 40s and above. If you have to prioritise, add calf raises and bent knee calf raises a few times a week.

That bulgarian split squat above is one of the best exercises you can do, doesn't take much weight to get a very effective quad, glute and hip flexor workout in one exercise. add some deadlifts, an upper body press and pull exercise and you could be done.

Edited by Parkside
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I'm not 50 yet (next month!!) but running is my primary / main sport these days. Despite an 18+ month running streak, I am humble enough to realise that each run might be my last of my 'between injuries' streak!!

As mentioned, I have found that strength training in recent times has been crucial to consistency, together with consistency itself. Consistency begets consistency. The hardest part has been striking an 'optimal' balance between running and strength work, so I can get some worthwhile training done in each, which comes down to periodisation and relative prioritisation of running and strength training. Sometimes the strength work is little more than going through the motions just to maintain movement patterns.

I will most probably think back to this thread in times ahead when my body, and most likely lower legs, are not holding up to allow me to run...

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Interesting you say that Matt. The African runners seem to carry very little calf muscle - and blade runner technology was an interesting debate some years ago about propulsion, gait etc

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I'm 65. I was always an MOP runner. Managed 5:30 minute ks in recent Sutho to Surf. Am "planning" to do IM OZ #8 next year after 5 year break but not 100% yet. I feel I can still do the run distance but that is yet to be tested. I had a knee meniscus tear tidied up 10 years ago which encouraged me to change my style to more midfoot. I think it worked and my style improved a lot. My joints feel OK. I have always performed some weight training including deadlifts and calf strengthening but should be more disciplined. I am prone to calf niggles but when that happens I seem to be able to relate it to improper warm up and/or residual fatigue. Warm up seems to be very important to my success and I do not run consecutive days and do not  do any real speedwork. I just push it sometimes. To be honest I'm feeling pretty good 😁

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