LOLZLetter 138 | Running As You Age Series

Interviewing two people in their 50s

Welcome,

As many know by now, I'm doing interviews with how people's relationship with running has changed with age. This week I'm talking to two people in their 50s. This series continues to be fun, and I've enjoyed learning people's stories and their relationship with running. This week I'm talking to Andrew and Frank! 

Andrew, age 51:

Andrew started running in 2011, and his first half marathon was in 2012. Next month, he will run his 100th half marathon!

Have you noticed anything has changed as you’ve gotten older?

I’ve started noticing changes in the last two years. It takes longer to warm up, and I'm not sure I could do some of the crazy challenges today that I did in years past, like back-to-back races.

Has what do you do before a run changed?

Before starting a run, I'll often do a short (10-20 minute) warm-up ride on the Peloton bike. No impact gets the blood flowing and the heart rate up. And yes, more time and more care to make sure I'm feeling good. I used to just go.

What do you do differently since when you started?

More loops on long runs instead of long out-and-back. I like having a home base with water refills and the certainty of a clean bathroom.

What keeps you motivated to run?

Running, alone or as part of a triathlon, is my chosen fitness/sports activity. At this point it's just part of my personality. It keeps me feeling good in the body and calm in the mind, to the extent possible.

Has the race distance you like to do changed?

It's hard to judge because 2020 was going to be a banner year for me in the 5K, 10K, and half marathon. I was in peak condition and aging up into the 50-54 group. But after March 2020, it was all virtual things and solo long runs. The half marathon was usually my favorite, and when I really get back into racing, I expect it will be again.

I've done three races so far this year since lockdowns have eased up. One trail half, one mountain trail marathon (DNF 😐), and a 5K fun run with my spouse. With the fall season coming up, I have some things on the calendar but far fewer than a normal year. But I don't think getting older has really affected my race schedule.

What are POSITIVE things you’ve noticed since growing older with the sport?

Nobody cares how old or young you are, or your background, or whatever. We're all out here too early in the morning to have some fun and do the best we can, and we support each other. I love that, and I see it more and more every year.

Thank you, Andrew, for your time. You can find him here. 

Frank: Age 59

Frank has always run in one form or another. When he was younger, running was mostly part of other sports, primarily soccer. He started running track in college and ran his first road 10K Memorial Day 1983 and his first marathon in 1998. He's done 17 marathons since, with Philadelphia up next!

What have you noticed anything has changed as you’ve gotten older?

The first thing I noticed was in my 30s, recovery time from a hard effort seemed to take longer. I have used a heart rate monitor pretty consistently since the early 2000s and have seen my max heart rate drop by about 25 points. So that has certainly also impacted things.

Has what do you do before a run changed? 

Not much! I like the extra time between waking up and running, but I still get up about 45 minutes to an hour before I run. Saturdays, I tend to relax a bit more and get out a bit later.

What do you do differently since when you started?

When I started, there was no internet, so you learned a lot more by trial and error and talking to other people.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve also changed my perspective. I don’t get hung up on pace and have no problem keeping an easy run easy no matter what the pace. I’ve also come to realize that time and effort are more important than distance and pace.

Miles per week and pace are just indirect measures of time and effort. If two people go for a 1-hour run at 70% max heart rate, they do the same workout. One might have run 10 miles and the other 6. Their bodies don’t know that.

So although I do look at weekly mileage and pace (I can’t help myself), I also look at how many hours I ran and what my average heart rate was. In the heat of the summer, I might have actually done more work in a given week, even though my mileage was a bit less. I also don’t hesitate to take a rest day or two if I think I need it, regardless of what the schedule says.

What keeps you motivated to run?

I feel better when I run. If I take too much time off, I feel sluggish and out of it. I also have a great crew that keeps it fun and pushes me. It's much easier to get out of bed and do a workout at 6:00 am in the middle of winter if you have someone to do it with. I would just go back to sleep otherwise!

What are POSITIVE things you’ve noticed since growing older with the sport?

Technical clothing and Body Glide!! My first 10K in 1983 was 50 degrees, raining, and we were all wearing cotton.

Seriously though, the camaraderie. I’ve met so many great people just from seeing them on my regular routes every day. Social media and Strava have also allowed runners across the country to connect and share information and forge bonds. I’m also 59, fit and healthy, and can still get out there.

As you get older, remember, age-grading is your friend! We always say you run mostly against yourself. Age-grading allows you to also compete against your younger self. I keep a list of what my age-graded PRs are. I might not be able to beat the actual time I ran 25 years ago, but I can still put in a better performance. I’ll look at my PR for a given distance and figure out what I have to run at my current age to beat it. There is no reason you can’t continue to improve even if your “time” is not as fast. Embrace that and use it to your advantage.

You can find him on Strava, Instagram, or Twitter.

Thank you, Frank and Andrew, for your time. If you are enjoying this series, I appreciate you sharing and telling your friends!

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More of the running as you age series:

30s: Katie, Vanessa, and Jessica

40s: Melissa and Matthew 

40s (Part 2): Laura and Jonathan 

What is Keeping Me Entertained:

Santa Monica Classic 10k (42:34)

I was on a We Run This podcast: We talk about shoes and snakes

Brooks Levitate 5 Shoe Review

Retired Elite Runner Shalane Flanagan Announces Her Goal to Run 6 World Marathons in 42 Days, Each in Under 3 Hours

The Latest Research on Super Shoes and Fast Marathon Times

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