A depressing 'getting old' thread

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UW
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A depressing 'getting old' thread

Post by UW » Mon May 20, 2013 5:20 am

It seems like a bunch of sensible and reasonable people post on these boards, so I thought it might be a good place to try picking a few brains!

Basically, my running is in a complete mess and I'm in a bit of a dilemma as to how to best progress. I've seriously considered quitting a few times over the last year or so, but everytime I do I end up realising that I love the sport too much to walk away from it.

A bit of background - I've recently turned 38 years old, and I've been a 'runner' since I was 14. During these years I have at times trained extremely hard, but I have also achieved some performances I can look back on and be happy with. I was always better at the 'shorter' distance events and ended up with 1.50 and 3.44 over 800 and 1500m. At the longer events I wasnt as fast, but have knocked out an 8.20 indoor 3k and a 14.30 (very hilly) 5k on the road. Beyond these distances my performances dropped off quite rapidly, although I could ocasionally bash out a decent cross country as a junior if it wasnt too muddy / hilly, and at the age of 18 I once jumped into a 10mile race for 'fun' and ended up running around 54 minutes.

However, over the past few years things have gone down hill quite badly. I am sure that much of this is due to taking on a more demanding career and the birth of our two daughters which obviously changed my priorities a bit. I kept plugging away though, and things have got much easier again lifestyle wise as I've adjusted and the girls have started sleeping all night etc. During this period training became very erratic in nature with no particular plans or goals. More recently though I decided to try and pick things up again with the aim seeing if I could put in some decent performances over the longer distances, and possibly have some fun in the masters age group in a couple of years. The major problem though is that I just cannot string together more than a few weeks of training without becoming exhausted and needing to take some downtime. After a rest I'll seemingly get 'fit' again very quickly (within just a few weeks) but then it all falls apart and the cycle repeats itself. 

Undoubtedly, part of the problem is that I'm simply getting older. Having said that my basic 'speed' is still pretty good and I can still do short sprints / hills if I want to and feel pretty good.  The major problems seem to be caused by long runs (and doing them at a luaghably slow pace doesnt seem to have improved things) and in particular any kind of prolonged high intensity sessions. Recently I've tried cutting right back on these in terms of both frequency (MAX of 1x per week) and volume. However, in my most recent comeback all was going well untill on consecutive weeks I ran sessions of 4x2 mins at ~3-5K effort on the road and the next week a couple of miles of striding the straights and jogging the turns on a grass track. The end result is a continual lingering fatigue, heavy legs (walking up stairs is a real chore), a foul mood and complete loss of motivation. I now know that the only way to recover from this is take a couple of weeks complete break before starting again meaning that I'll have to miss another planned season of road races whilst I rebuild.

So.. any advice on how to break out of this cycle? Part of me realises that a good start will be to acknowledge that I'm simply older and probably will never run as fast as previously. This means I'll not be continually comparing things with how they used to be and trying to repeat previous training loads. Really I'd be happy with anything that allowed me to get out fairly regularly and run (and enjoy) some races on the roads and for the club on the cross country over the winter at a performance level that leaves me feeling satisfied with my efforts. From a training perspective I am seriously toying with the idea of completely dispensing with any high intensity work at all. The trouble is that that has been the plan previously as well yet I always find myself 'tempted' to dabble with a little again (presumably because I've convinced myself that 'this time it will work out ok') with what are now predictably disastrous results. I'm planning to spend the next couple weeks off running and riding my bike if the mood takes me, but this is probably a good time to reevaluate things.

Apologies if this comes across as a bit of a self indulgent moan :)

FTIR
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Re: A depressing 'getting old' thread

Post by FTIR » Mon May 20, 2013 8:14 am

This site is the right place to learn how to hold yourself back enough to allow your fitness to build.

Could you list the results of your last few road races?
How fast do you run on a normal daily run?

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Re: A depressing 'getting old' thread

Post by dkggpeters » Mon May 20, 2013 8:53 am

It would be nice to have the following information:

1.)  Provide a few weeks of training performed prior to feeling overly tired and having to reset.
2.)  What are your distances that you are currently racing.
3.)  What are your actual times vs goal times for these races.

I would argue that at your age an easy long run should not wipe you out.  Did you increase your long run mileage to rapidly?  Has it been hot and humid during these long runs?

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Re: A depressing 'getting old' thread

Post by Jim » Mon May 20, 2013 9:04 am

"The end result is a continual lingering fatigue, heavy legs (walking up stairs is a real chore), a foul mood and complete loss of motivation."  Welcome to middle age. 

I started back into the running when I was 37 after a long lay-ff where I played a lot of golf and got fat.  When I was 37 I figured it wouldn't take that long to get back in shape because I knew guys who were about my speed in their 20s who started running again and in no time were in the 17s for 5km. 

Anyways, 10 years later and 25lbs lighter I'm still trying to crack 20min for 5km.  I am however wiser than I was 10 years ago and if I was 37 again and had it to do over here is what I would do, starting tomorrow:

1) Hire a coach.  I thought I knew a lot about training when I was 37 but I know nothing compared to Tinman.  Coaches help you in a lot of ways but building training programs is a great place to start.

2) Build mileage.  Getting fit in your late 30s isn't gonna happen when you are running 25mpw unless you are a mega talent.  You have to work twice as hard to get fit at 38 than you did at 20.  So build your mileage up to the 50mpw level and that will be a good place to start some proper training.  I found that once I got up to a consistent 50mpw (with forays into 60+) a lot of those aches and pains from walking up and down stairs disappeared.  A good friend of mine who was a 4:05 miler back in the day was listening to me complain about my lack of progress a few years ago and asked me how many miles I was running and I said 40 and his reply was, "Hell, Jim, you aren't even training unless you're running at least 60!"  Run doubles if you have to but get the miles in.

3) Get in the gym with a personal trainer for at least 2-3 sessions a week.  6-12 months of gym work focusing on your core and posterior chain will make those longer miles come easier and keep you off the DL.  Why a personal trainer?  She/he will push you a lot harder than you will push yourself and they will keep the training fresh.  It did wonders for me.

4) Lose weight.  Not sure how much you have to lose but unless you are rail thin you can lose some more.  Some folks can lose weight very easily and I am not one of them.  But I know losing another 10lbs will make me faster so I watch what I eat.  Running and training is a lifestyle as much as a hobby.  I am lucky as I can make my work schedule fit my running schedule but if your occupation is 9 to 5 then it can be a bit tougher.  Family makes it tough too, kids and spouses want dad around the house and not off running with his buddies.  And they often do not want to eat what a runner needs to eat.  But just heading out the door for a run is a great way to break up the day if you like running all this becomes less like work and more like play.  So have fun with it.

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Re: A depressing 'getting old' thread

Post by Linus » Tue May 21, 2013 6:19 pm

Some great posts here  :D
I am 35 years old and have been training running for 10 month now. Trying to follow the Tinmans principles as good as I can. Making progress almost every week. Only doing 35 mpw so far, building it up slowly to not get injured, hope to be able to run 50 mpw within 6-9 month. The CV intervals has helped me big time and to run easy almost everyday. But it took me almost 6 months to be able to run everyday. To sort out and fix all small pain/ache before pushing further takes some time and that has been the top priority for me. I feel like I am training better/smarter then most of my opponents, competing in orienteering almost every weekend, started being in the bottom bottom and have now climbed to be in the middle, very excited to see what one more year of good training can do for my results. My weight is around 15-20 labs over what it should be.  The weight thing is the hardest part for me, massive appetite from running. The day I stop making progress I will ask for Tinmans help.

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Re: A depressing 'getting old' thread

Post by ap4305 » Wed May 22, 2013 2:44 pm

[quote="UW"]
Having said that my basic 'speed' is still pretty good and I can still do short sprints / hills if I want to and feel pretty good.  The major problems seem to be caused by long runs (and doing them at a luaghably slow pace doesnt seem to have improved things) and in particular any kind of prolonged high intensity sessions. Recently I've tried cutting right back on these in terms of both frequency (MAX of 1x per week) and volume. However, in my most recent comeback all was going well untill on consecutive weeks I ran sessions of 4x2 mins at ~3-5K effort on the road and the next week a couple of miles of striding the straights and jogging the turns on a grass track. The end result is a continual lingering fatigue, heavy legs (walking up stairs is a real chore), a foul mood and complete loss of motivation. I now know that the only way to recover from this is take a couple of weeks complete break before starting again meaning that I'll have to miss another planned season of road races whilst I rebuild.
[/quote]

You were on the right track and you're probably not as far off as you think...

Long runs wiping you out right?  Just run shorter.  Alternatively, do them in "interval" form (example: 90 minute run done in 6 x 15 minute "intervals" with a short break...but the segments are still at a comfortable pace yet you're not merely surviving the run...good way to increase your volume without your form falling apart and feeling like garbage)

Running by effort/fartlek is a great idea...but 2 min segments at 5k pace maybe a bit much for someone in your situation.  2 min efforts I'd do around 10k-15k pace; for 5k pace stick to 20-60 sec.  And take ample rest for now. 

I disagree that taking weeks off is necessary unless you have blood work from your doctor to support that decision.  Yes, you may need to back off to restore some balance, but this can be accomplished more effectively with very minimalist training (avoiding zeros in the training log). 
Allan Phillips
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Tinman athlete since 2003
www.ventanapt.physio
IG: @thekettlebelldoc

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