Tuesday, September 20

Aging and running

According to research published by Stanford University in 2008, running slows the aging process:
Regular running slows the effects of aging, according to a new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine that has tracked 500 older runners for more than 20 years. Elderly runners have fewer disabilities, a longer span of active life and are half as likely as aging nonrunners to die early deaths, the research found.
But aging also slows the running process...

In his article "Coming of Age" in the October issue of Runner's World, Peter Sagal interviewed Dr. Ray Fair (Yale University) on the effects of age on runners' pace.

The bad news: it really is all downhill after age 35. Or, rather, it's an uphill battle. Our finishing times increase (as pace decreases) as we get older. Dr. Fair conveniently created a web-based conversion system if you want to see the details. And, for your viewing pleasure, I've turned the data into a chart summarizing how uphill the battle is:

Coincidentally, today's Dictionary.com word of the day just happens to be acme: the highest point of something; the highest degree attainable.
Let's use that in a sentence: By age 35 nearly all runners will have reached the acme of their running performance, and can no longer expect to set PRs.

Wow. That sounds horribly depressing. But...

The good news: The slowdown is very gradual as we age, until the mid-70s. By age 88, we can expect that most running distances will take us about twice as long as they did at age 35. Or, put another way, by age 88 we will run at about half the speed we did 50 years earlier.

But really, if we're still running at all at age 88, isn't that good enough?

Also...for one of my favorite stories of 80-year-old words of wisdom, see "Enjoy it while you can."

1 comment:

  1. Good stuff. The Runner's World article is what I was looking for when I posted, but could not find. Apparently I have too many copies of RWs laying around and cannot keep track of them.


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