The Aging Athlete


Each week we focus on a different topic on our Facebook page. Last week the subject was looking at running as we age.

It became clear that one of the most important tools a runner over the age of 40 can utilize is strength work. Gretchen Reynolds mentions this in her recent article discussing why runners get slower as they age. Breaking Muscle’s writer Jannine Myers has some great suggestions for strength work in her article as well.

Rest is another factor that must be more strongly recognized for older athletes. Any discussion about the aging athlete is incomplete without mentioning Bernard Lagat. Four decades old and he’s still racing and besting athletes half his age.

This is a topic he discusses often and his advice is certainly something we can all hear more of.
For his success as he has grown older, he primarily credits three things:

  1. Taking a day off every week. Older athletes require more rest, simple as that.
  2. A reduced training volume compared to his competitors, often covering half of the weekly distance as other elite athletes.
  3. He takes an extended break from running every year after the racing season wraps up.

Below is a cool cross sectional scan of the thigh from three study participants. While we do not know the background on the individuals, the differences are striking in how much fat vs muscle tissue the subjects had.

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Do YOU have any advice for staying active as you’ve aged? Let us know in the comments section!

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