Runners World Articles: Archives
Save Your Strength - Seven ways to grow stronger
as you grow older
In last month's column, I outlined ways to be a happier runner
10 years from now. This month, I'm focusing on how to be a stronger
runner 10 years from now.
Some runners don't mind easing off as they age; others actually
look forward to it. But for those of you who want to continue to
be competitive - maybe even more competitive - with each passing
birthday, here's how to pull it off:
Tackle a few hills: Running uphill - even slowly - is the
best way to build leg strength for running. Beginners should start
slowly, by running a hilly course one day a week. Eventually you
can move on to running repeats (50 to 300 meters) up a modest hill.
Run up at a 10K race effort, then recover by walking back down.
Go long (on the road): Slow endurance runs will help you
finish strong in races. For example, if your longest run is 6 miles,
and you tend to slow down at 4 to 5 miles in races, then increase
your long runs to 10 miles and you'll power through a 10K. Do this
gradually by increasing your long run each week by 1 mile until
you reach 10 miles. At that point, if you want to do more, you can
increase by 2 miles every other weekend. Do these long runs 2 minutes
per mile slower than you could race the distance.
Go long (on the track): If you're slowing down at the end
of your faster runs, increase the number of repetitions you're doing
in speed sessions. For example: A 5K racer I recently met, who tends
to slow down at mile 2, had been running no more than 10 x 400 meters
in her weekly speed workout. When she increased from 10 to 12 repeats
and lengthened her rest between each repeat by 2 minutes, she was
able to maintain her pace throughout a 5K. As you increase the number
of repeats, adjust your pacing so you can run the fastest ones at
the end of your workout.
Continued from Home Page
Jack it up one week a month: Piling on the miles week after
week will increase your risk of injury. Jacking up your mileage
just one week a month, on the other hand, will cut your injury risk
to almost nothing while improving your strength. Let's say that
on the third week of the month you're averaging 18 miles per week.
Add 2 miles to this week's total each month until you reach 24 to
28 miles. Your mileage during other weeks should remain the same.
Improve your posture: You're building leg strength by running
hills, but you also should spend time in the weight room strengthening
your postural muscles. These muscles help you stay upright, breathe
more efficiently, and delay fatigue. Develop your shoulders with
barbell shrubs and your upper to middle back with bent-over dumbbell
rows. Most important, strengthen your lower back by lying facedown
and lifting your head and chest 3 to 6 inches off the floor. Repeat
8 to 12 times. Work up to two to three sets, three times a week.
Stretch out: Stretching is doubly important when you focus
on speed. This is because when you run fast, you're asking your
legs to extend beyond their normal range of motion. Stretch thoroughly
after a 10-minute warmup (or after your run), paying particular
attention to your hamstrings, quads, and calves. Don't bounce or
strain, and hold each stretch for at least 15 seconds.
Schedule a "strength challenge": You're more likely to follow
the tips I've given you if you regularly test your progress. With
a friend or a small group, challenge yourself once a month to a
hilly run, a fast time-trial, or a race.
World, August 2000, p. 44
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