Getting older doesn’t mean you have to lose fitness, give up on your running goals or stop being competitive, and masters runners are proving this constantly. In fact, your 40s, 50s and beyond can be some of the most rewarding years of your running life. Still, there are certain things you could do in your 20s and 30s that you can no longer get away with, and there are some areas that require a bit more attention and discipline if you want to stay a healthy, strong runner. If you’re a masters runner, or if the masters scene is on the horizon for you, make sure these five habits are a part of your everyday life to ensure your running success.
Eat more veggies and protein
Nutrition is important no matter how old you are, but it becomes even more crucial as you get older. You can no longer eat pizza and beer three nights a week and expect to feel good during your runs (sorry). Specifically, masters runners should focus on including more vegetables in their meals and increasing their daily protein intake. More vegetables will ensure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals in your diet, as well as fibre, which can reduce your risk for certain cancers and help keep you regular, and increasing your protein intake will help you maintain muscles mass as you get older.
Chronic stress can wreak havoc on our bodies and prevent us from performing at our best during runs, workouts and races. Stress can be very insidious and can come from a multitude of places, so pay attention to the small things that are adding stress to your life and if you can, remove them.
At no point in your running life has strength training been more important than in your years as a masters athlete. Not only will it help maintain your muscle mass, which can improve your endurance performance, but it’s also very important for maintaining bone density and improving your joint health. This is because moving your joints through a wide and diverse range of motion (which running doesn’t do) will keep your ligaments and tendons strong and healthy so your joints continue to move without struggle or pain.
This goes hand-in-hand with reducing stress. While you sleep, your body goes through several regenerative processes that help you recover from the day’s activities so that you’re ready for the next, and without it, your health and performance will suffer. Prioritizing sleep doesn’t just mean going to bed earlier, but also optimizing your sleep environment so you can improve the quality of your sleep. Things like keeping your room cool and turning off electronics at least 30 minutes before you go to bed can help you sleep more soundly so you wake up feeling well-rested.
Running can be hard on your body and is very repetitive. Swapping out one or two of your running days for a day of cross-training is a great way to maintain fitness while reducing the stress on your muscles, bones and joints so you can continue running without injuries. Cycling, pool running and swimming are all excellent options for masters runners.