Tips for Masters Runners (and All Runners) From Masters Runners
We recently asked a group of experienced Masters Runners to share their running advice with other Masters Runners. We asked them for tips or words of wisdom for their fellow Masters Runners, secrets to their longevity, advice for avoiding injury and burnout, and whatever else they thought would be helpful. We present their comments, with many recommendations applicable to runners of any age, for your consideration. For context, A Masters Runner is a runner, male or female, over the age of 40.
CG (75), North Carolina:
It really is a gift/blessing to be able to run injury free later in life. Many (most) people around us cannot. In the end it is a gift we’ve been given, we should use it and be an example to others that it can be done, at any age. And a thank you to whoever invented age grading – it’s great!
SM (73), Duncan, Canada:
- Keep your training moderate. It is okay to slow down and enjoy the scenery and/or run races for enjoyment rather than time.
- Yoga has helped me to avoid injuries.
- Do not try to run with injury, give yourself lots of recovery time.
- If I am tired, I rest. At 73 I tell myself how lucky I am to be running and I must take care of myself and respect my age.
MC (72), New Jersey:
Volunteering at races keeps me motivated and it gives me a chance to feel more equal with the energetic young people.
HM (63), California:
- ‘Running fast’ is rewarding, but I often switch my mind to just enjoy running without thinking ‘speed.’
- Long slow warmups are a must for me, and when I feel something is off, I rest. I take a long bath. Get a little massage. Do yoga. Eat plenty of heathy food with red wine.
DW (61), Pennsylvania:
- Running is a gift. Not everyone at my age can still run. Be thankful every day you can.
- Don’t complain you are not as fast as you used to be. Be thankful you are as fast as you are today. Compete against those in and around your age group and compete against yourself from one race to the next. Your older, accept it, and be thankful for your accomplishments.
- Warm up and cool down wisely. Spend 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching before running, and then use the first couple miles for further warmup. And save the final 1-2 miles for proper cool down. If something must be cut short cut time out of the challenging portion of the workout.
- Follow a plan that challenges you and helps you improve (relative to your age), but make sure it includes lots of easy/recovery miles, non-running strength exercises, cross training, and scheduled rest days. Doing easy runs, cross training and even rest days is not the sign of a weak master’s runner, it is the sign of a smart, and most likely healthier, stronger and less injured master’s runner.
JP (61), Florida:
The best advice I have is don’t try and get away with what you did in your twenties. Recovery, diet and sensible training become way more important. And lastly make sure you enjoy it!
AB (60), Texas:
What also helps is having an individualized training plan, shoes that work for me now, friends to run with, meditative solo runs, and going to a running camp last year helped boost my confidence.
DL (60), Minnesota:
- Master’s runners are still competitive. We want to PR. We want to win our age grade. And how many youngsters did we beat??? Surprising thing is that I don’t feel old.
- The secret to running longevity is not so secret. Eat food that is alive for the most part, sleep well and run. You can’t skimp on any one of the three. They are equally important.
- Stretch a little, cross train, and read books on running.
- One thing about master’s runners is we are not so self-destructive as younger runners. No drugs, less booze, better food and sleep before that 18 miler.
- How do you relate to a… well…older runner??? It’s a real buzzkill to be called “sir” while I’m running an ultra…just saying’
EH (60), New Jersey:
Running as a master can be about pushing yourself, enjoying competition, pushing for PRs in your age group, and so on – all of which is truly rewarding. But equally it can be about simply enjoying the experience. I think as a master you realize that both approaches can be fulfilling, and it’s ok to cycle from one to the other over the course of a season, year, or your running life.
DC (51), Massachusetts:
Treat your body carefully if you expect it to perform. Good nutrition, consistent hydration, regular stretching/warm up and regular rest. I find that I now really pay for unhealthy eating and drinking. Likewise, I find I really need to get 8 solid hours of sleep. A gradual warm up before every run and a quick stretch afterwards is also key. If I skip these, I notice it later in the day. If I treat my body well, I have found that I am still getting a little faster, not slower.
JC (50), Quebec, Canada:
- Your body is an amazing machine that can-do things you thought were impossible. Just take baby steps and don’t rush the results or give up. We can still improve even while aging.
- If you push too hard/too soon, your body won’t have enough time to adjust, and you will get injured. Baby steps, follow your coach’s programs and do your easy runs at “real” easy pace.
JS (49), Illinois:
There is no off season. You can have a down season, but there is no off season. I hate to say it, but at a certain point, injuries are guaranteed if you don’t run all through the year and incorporate strength training into your routine. You don’t have to run big mileage all year. Just don’t let any weeks go by with no miles at all—you will thank yourself.
AF (49), Sao Paulo, Brazil:
- Get a coach and a plan!
- Don’t think you are old, your body can do way more than you imagine it’s possible, it just needs the proper stimulus and rest. You get stronger when you rest.
- You need to eat properly, enjoy your meals and get away from junk food!
- Be supportive to other runners and they will help you out as well.
- Traveling is not an excuse it’s actually a great opportunity to have fun runs and explore!
JB (47), Fribourg, Chile:
One thing I’ve learned is that while it’s important to listen to your body, I think it’s also important not to let your age hold you back from pushing the envelope of what you think you’re capable of achieving.
DK (47), Massachusetts:
- I need to warmup a lot more than I ever had to in my younger days! Like, 3 or 4 miles THEN I can run for real.
- If no one older beats you, particularly in a shorter race like a like a local 5K, you can consider that A HUGE WIN, just as if you’d won the entire race.
JR (44), New Mexico:
I appreciate following the intent of specific runs and keeping easy days easy. This is something I struggled with when younger but look forward to now. When younger if I was short on time the first thing to get cut would be stretching. That was a horrible mistake. Stretching regularly after each run, and a little before is critical to feeling good in general and has helped reduce injuries, aches and pains. All of this gives me confidence for the hard training days and races.
SC (43), California:
- Don’t think about your age when your training or racing. Running is purely for sport, and when you start taking it too seriously, the point of doing it gets lost.
- Take extended breaks from running every year. For me I need the mental and physical break from it.
AS (41), Pennsylvania:
I had a baby as a Master Mom, at 40! As a Master Mom and a Master Runner I recommend being flexible with your schedule and allow yourself some grace. However, still go hard and long, as much as you can, don’t forget recovery but don’t abuse of it, because it is easy to do.
TA (40), Geneva, Switzerland:
- You can be strong and highly competitive at any age, just listen to your body and train wisely.
- Be flexible – a plan designed by an experienced coach is super helpful, but you still need to adjust and ease up as needed to stay healthy.
- Find a local running community. There is a lot of joy in personal objectives and PRs, but also in sharing the journey with other like-minded people. You may find the camaraderie along the way is more valuable than the destination.
- Rest and recover appropriately – as a 20-something in college I slept 4 hours a night, had numerous activities, went out, and worked 2 jobs. Today I know you can only juggle a limited number of things and if you want running progress you need to make some compromises.
- Let go of ego on easy days. I take easy as slow as needed so I can work hard on effort days.
Words of wisdom from master’s runners for master’s runners. See you on the trails!
Are you a Master’s Runner? What advice would you give your fellow Master’s Runners?