Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Are You Too Old To Run A Marathon?

If you're ever thinking that you're too old to be running, just think of Ed Whitlock. The 73 year-old Canadian runs 100 miles a week and ran the Toronto marathon this past September in 2:54:49, a 6:40/mile pace. The full article from the New York Times is here.
-musings on the marathon

How To Avoid Injury

Training Errors

Without question, training errors are the greatest single cause of injuries that prevent runners from participating in their chosen target events. These particular runners can be categorized into two major groups. The first type adopts the philosophy that "more is better" and builds their mileage too rapidly and thus suffers breakdown and/or injury. The second group of runners is very inconsistent in their training and misses several workouts in a row, for example. Then, recognizing that they are behind in their training, pour on the miles in an effort to catch up. Several of these mistakes are listed below. By training wisely, you can avoid becoming a "marathon training fatality".


Consistent training is one of the major keys to running improvement. Conversely, inconsistent training can lead to a variety of injuries. It is vital that you do not miss several days in a row of running and then jump right back into your training program. Doing so greatly increases your risk of injury, as you must build your mileage gradually (see below).

Building Mileage Too Rapidly

Always adhere to the 10 percent rule. This two-part rule specifies: (1) do not increase your weekly mileage by more than 10 percent nor (2) increase the distance of your long run by more than 10 percent per week.

Not Following the Hard-Easy Concept of Training

Hard workouts include long runs, races, speedwork, hill repeats, and/or any other stressful workout. Do not run two hard workouts back to back. For example, if you complete a long run on Sunday, do not plan to go to the track to do a speedwork session on Monday. Similarly, if you run a 10K road-race on Saturday, avoid doing a long run on Sunday.

Not Listening to Your Body

This training error is referred to as "being a slave to your training schedule". While it's very important to be as consistent as possible regarding your training, it is vital to listen to what your legs are communicating to you throughout your marathon training period. Instead of running five or six easy miles during the middle of the week when your muscles feel fatigued or sore, take an extra day off and save your legs for the weekend long run. Above all, incorporate rest days into your schedule prior to hard workouts.

Injury Prevention Strategies

Heed Injury Warning Signs

There are too many types of running injuries and treatment options that could be addressed in this section. However, if you suspect you may have an injury, begin a preventative rehabilitation program to keep the damage to a minimum. Depending on the type of injury, this might mean using ice, anti-inflammatory medication, and above all, taking a rest day or two to allow the injury to heal. Continuing to run will only slow down the recovery process or even make the injury more serious. In addition, by favoring the injury and altering your natural running style, a secondary injury may develop. If your injury doesn't respond to rest and/or the rehabilitation measures just described, it is then prudent to seek the advice of a physician familiar with running and sports-related injuries. Above all, follow his or her advice!


Stay well hydrated to avoid heat injury.

Use Fresh Shoes

Purchase a new pair of shoes when the mileage totals from your old shoes reach a maximum of 400 miles.

Stretch Regularly

Include Weight Training

Add Some Cross-Training Activities

Be sure that these activities supplement your running rather than increase your level of fatigue that reaches the point of interfering with your running program.

Utilize Recovery Techniques

There are several therapeutic measures you can take to recover from stressful runs or from the cumulative effects of hard training over a long period of time. Massage therapy is great after a long run, hard race, and/or weeks of heavy training. Pouring cold water on fatigued legs after a race or long run is another therapeutic technique. Soaking your legs in a whirlpool with warm water (approximately 105 degrees) a couple of hours after a race or long run oftentimes aids in the recovery of fatigued muscles. Something as simple as taking a walk or going for an easy bike ride a couple hours after a hard workout also can work wonders for tired legs.
Thanks to marathontraining.com for the article