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Strategies to Ensure Running Longevity: Strategy #2

    Hey everybody.  I hope you all have enjoyed a fabulous training week so far.  Lots of great things continue to happen in the lives of our members, and it certainly is well deserved.  With the recent focus on running, I wanted to continue sharing strategies consistent with ensuring running health and longevity.  Here's another, enjoy!

Strategy #2: Run Hard
If we want to continue running fast, we must continue to run hard.  We begin to lose skeletal muscle mass at about age 25.  While slow-twitch (endurance) muscle fibers are resistant to age-related atrophy, fast-twitch (speed and power) muscle fibers disappear at a rate of up to 1 percent per year.  To slow this trend and help prevent fiber shrinkage, we must incorporate sprint and hard interval training into our running.

"It is well known that to stay young, intensity of exercise is more important than volume," says Earl Fee, author of The Complete Guide to Running: How to be a Champion from 9 to 90.  Fee, now 83, knows a thing or two about being a champion, having set more than 50 age-group world records at distances ranging from the 300m hurdles to the mile, including a 70-second 400m at age 80.

Speed training presents a classic case of "use it or lose it."  A comparison of masters' sprint and distance records reveals that sprinters show less decline in ability as they age. That's because masters sprinters partially arrest their decrease of intermediate and fast-twitch fibers, while masters distance runners don't; distance runners "lose it."

But speed negligent older distance runners needn't despair.  A 2009 study on aging and running found that sprint training led to "significant gains in maximal and explosive strength and improvements in force production during running."  In other words, we can reverse some of the damage.

One or two weekly sessions of hard running can maintain - or recapture - much of our speed.  Who knows, maybe we'll even run a 70-second 400 when we're 80.


REFERENCES
  • Running Times - Long May You Run - May 2012.  Pete Magill

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