Running – Older But Faster!
Running began for me as a young child. I fell into it, I was a boxer first, but through my training I discovered that I was a fairly good runner too. I was one of those athletes of decent ability who fell through the cracks during college, which led to a long time out of the sport. Although I never lost my love of fitness and endurance sports. I tried my hand at triathlons for a few years, but the love of pure running never left me. I’m back running five years now, after a ten year sabbatical.
Some would consider this year a modest breakthrough year for me. I have put in some good performances across a range of distances and keep getting faster despite getting older. I have new personal bests in the 5k, 10k, 10 mile, half marathon and marathon this year. I’ve had great success in various cross country races also, with the latest in Abbotstown Dublin, where I placed just outside the top six in the O35’s which would have secured a selection to the national team.
I’m at a point in my running that my 39 year old self would show a “clean set of heels” to my 19 year old self. It’s very satisfying and not uncommon for older athletes to keep progressing. Only last year Gary O’Hanlon of Clonliffe Harriers set a marathon Pb of 2:18.53 at the age of 43. This is just one example, there are many more out there. It is great to know that a consistent approach to training, encompassing all its elements can lead to improvement.
As a self-coached athlete I have to be able to read myself and my body very well. The training methods I have put in place have worked perfectly for me, as they have for others that I have helped to reach their goals. In my eyes improvement is about continually adapting and changing things to get a better response.
When I took up running again 5 years ago, I was in no rush. Being a Physical Therapist I constantly looked at research papers related to my field to get the best evidenced approach to any condition. I took this approach to my running as well.
What I came to understand is that to see improvement you need to view running as a long term endeavour. Don’t be in a panic to see positive results too soon. Enjoy the journey and the experience of training your body and mind. Set yourself up for success by surrounding yourself with good training partners and a knowledgeable coach that takes the time to understand your individual goals.
Five years ago, I knew that I would be at this point in my running. And, I know where I will be in another five years. Continually adapting and layering different elements (strength, speed, flexibility, endurance, etc) efficiently has led to greater progress. Each year that has passed I have added in something different to my training. Elements that I have added into my routine and provide for others are, Strength/personal training, Massage, and individualised Training programmes.
Understanding the event you are training for and what attributes you need to allow for improvement are key. I have a bunch of other ideas to put into my training over the next few years, so I will keep changing and adapting and see how far it will take me.