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Old Runners Never Die – They Just Slow Down at a Faster and Faster Rate
After 50 years of running, going slower and slower and faster, some truths have become clear. We become slower as we age. We probably need more rest days. We still have to slow down on the long distances. Competitive juices always flow in the elderly. We get points for showing up.
We are getting slower at a faster pace. After hours of applying the math to the many age-adjusted factors for runners that are available online, a simple rule of thumb has emerged. The annual slowing factor at a given age is proportional to age. Divide your age by 60. This is the percentage you can expect to slow down next year. A 40-year-old runner can expect to slow down 0.67% next year. A 60 year old runner will slow down by 1.00%.
The problem is that it is a double-edged sword. The 40-year-old can run for seven minutes. 420 x 1.0067 = 422.8. Three seconds per mile isn’t too much of a concern. The 60-year-old guy is probably running eight and a half miles. 510 x 1.0 = 515.1. Even though he remains healthy, he is looking at a slowdown of five seconds per mile. Still not too bad, you say, but read on for the cumulative effect.
Our calculations show the following slowing factors and predict 10k times for a recreational runner who ran 40 minutes for a 10k at age 30.
Age 40 1.0570 42:17
50 years 1.1374 45:30
60 years old 1.2465 49:52
Age 70 1.3920 55:41
Age 80 1.5844 1:03:23
The above results assume a healthy, well-trained body that still weighs the same as when it was a 30-year-old athlete. The bad news is that you probably put on a few extra pounds of fat and a few other not so good things happened to your body.
Now for the good news. As more seniors continue to be active, master runners are moving closer to these standards. There are fewer and fewer participants in the upper age groups. Just by being in the race, the probability of obtaining a medal or a trophy is higher for the older athlete. Believe it or not, there is satisfaction in being on the winner’s podium with a hard-won second place in a two-man race.
A favorite saying of my mother who lived to be 107 was, “I am an inspiration. During one of my recent practice runs, a young runner stopped by my side and said, “You are an inspiration. I hope I’m still running when I’m your age. » Keep running. You always feel fast even when you are slow.
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