Serious runners and aging

I consider myself a pretty avid runner. I do marathons once or twice a year, and have come close to qualifying for the Boston marathon. I’ve been running for about fifteen years.

Here’s the problem. I’m about to turn 32. Now, I know that’s not old, but the past year or two, I’ve noticeably slowed down. I used to be able to keep up a moderate job (say eight minute miles) all day long, every day. No problem. Now, I’m lucky if I can do an eight or nine mile run at that pace. I don’t recover from runs nearly as well as I used to. My speed is off considerably. Four years ago I did a five minute mile. Now I do a six minute mile at best.

Three years ago I was putting in 40 or 50 miles a week when not training for a marathon. Now, I’m lucky to be able to do 25-30.

I have no serious aches or pains. It’s not like my knee has given out or anything. I’m wondering if this is all in my head, or if this is a real physical manifestation of getting older.

When did you feel yourself start to slow down?

Everybody is different in this respect. There are runners still racing in the 80s. On the average, you will slow down as you age, but it also depends upon your training regimen. Should not be as much as you indicate, however.

I did not start running until I was 46 and ran daily for 20 years, hundreds of races, ten marathons (Boston twice). I actually increased my PRs for several years, and even when I hit 60, did not slow down that much. I my 50 and 60 age groups, usually managed to finish 1st, 2nd or 3rd. Even in my 60s my training runs were all sub-8 minute miles, and I put in 50 or mor miles a week.

I’d strongly suggest you get a complete physical checkup, as you should not be having this sort of trouble at your age. It strikes me that there may be something medically wrong, not necessarily serious, but well worth finding out.

Any big changes in your life lately? Emotional stress can play a part too, but really, get a checkup. If everything is OK, it might help to just stop running all together for a few weeks to see if you regain your strength and vigor.

Good luck, hope you can get back to your previous condition.

I’d second the advice to get a full physical.

I don’t run as much as you do, but I was running 25-35mi/wk for quite a long time when I noticed my runs getting crappier and crappier, and unpredictable. I could go out for a 6 mile run and then knock of 12 miles no sweat, while I might be well rested and try 10 miles and have to stop after 4.

I went to the doctor and he tested everything, all was OK, but he was not happy with my blood pressure. After a stress test and a few other heart exams he declared me fit, but with high BP, and explained that in my case this would account for the crappy runs.

Now I’m taking BP medicine (which really doesn’t help running unfortunately) and he’s happy, so I’m happy. Get yourself checked out.

Interesting. I hadn’t thought of that at all, but my blood pressure is unfortunately pretty high. Not stress. Just genes. My dad had high blood pressure and led to his very untimely death.

Something I will definitely look into. Thanks guys.

Getting a full physical sounds like good advice to me. My brother is 48 and has been running since he was 14 (cross country, then longer distances; he now runs several 1/2 marathons and generally at least two marathons a year, including Boston). Even when he hasn’t been consistent in his training, his times haven’t degraded at the rate yours seem to have.

Good luck!

GT