Category Archives: Womens Running

Over 40 and Stealing the Show

WomanRacingsmMasters runners (runners over the age of 40) are fastest growing demographic in running. An article written by Gretchen Reynolds (that appeared in December 21st, 2011 New York Times Well Blog) quotes French research that studied New York City Marathon finishers.  Dr. Romuald Lepers, one of the authors: “The percent of finishers younger than 40 years significantly decreased, while the percent of master runners significantly increased for both males and females.”

Even more impressive – the French study also found that in recent years, the average finishing time of the fastest men runners age 60+ decreased by 7%; older women’s times dropped a  whopping 16%!!

On a related note, research has great news for older runners who aim to improve their running and racing!

Why Women over 40 Need More Rest Than Younger Women Runners or Male Runners

Take time to recharge your battery. You won’t get the Golden Egg without first taking care of the Goose.

Frank McKinney

Daphne was a 64 year old nurse who had started running at age 56. Bitten by the running bug, she began to enter local races, working her way up to the marathon. She was now running 5 days per week.  In addition, she hit the gym for two strengthening sessions and a spin class every week.  She did yoga too.  Her dream was to qualify for Boston.  Daphne needed to reduce her marathon time by 23 minutes to qualify.

She asked me: “What is the best way to improve so that I can qualify for Boston without killing myself?”

We redesigned her training program to include more rest and recovery.  We reduced her running from 5 days per week to 3 weekly runs; two faster paced runs and either a long run, race pace run or shorter recovery run.  She kept the spin, yoga and modified the strengthening classes.  She was running 40% less frequently!

She implemented her new program. The increased rest and recovery paid off big time!  She slashed a whopping 33 minutes off her marathon, qualifying for Boston with 10 minutes to spare – just 6 weeks shy of her 65th birthday! (from 5:08 to 4:35:39 at the Hamilton Road2Hope Marathon).

 

Why Are Rest and Recovery Critically Important for Women Runners Over 40?

How the Genders Differ in Nutritional Requirements

AsianWomanEatingSmallWomen runners differ from their male counterparts in both caloric and carbohydrate requirement. When running the same distance, men burn more calories than women due to their higher muscle mass and less fat.

In addition to burning more calories when running, men utilize more carbs as fuel than women, even when running the same distance.  Therefore, women runners need fewer carbs than men.

To find out exactly how much of each you need and precisely how to get it ……

The Depressive Edge? Going Downhill After the Race

Aren’t You Supposed to Feel Happy, Not Depressed, After Running a Race?!

(Published on September 8, 2014 by Kate F. Hays, Ph.D. in The Edge: Peak Performance Psychology. Republished with permission)

A few days ago, Susan completed a marathon. Her hard training paid off: she did well. Now, along with the expected body stiffness, why, she wonders, is she feeling so out of sorts? She’s cranky, snapping at people, has no appetite, can’t find a comfortable position for sleeping, can’t focus at work. If she didn’t know better, she’d say she was depressed.

Then there’s her good friend, Sharon, who also ran this same race. Coming back from injury, Sharon wasn’t even sure she could complete the race. She did, but had been miserable—and achieved a miserable time. She too is moody, unfocused, and irritable. She keeps re-playing the race in her head, thinking “If only…” and “I should have….”

Put an End to Starting Races Too Fast

We’ve all been there; most of us more than once.  You’re at the start line.  Excited, waiting for the race to start.

The (simulated) gunshot. The race starts.  Buoyed by the cheering crowds, adrenaline pumping through your veins, you take off like a sprinter out of the starting blocks.

Then, you look for daylight. “If I can just zip around these two football players and dart past that slow guy who should have started in the last corral, I’ll be in the clear and can run my race.

Repeat three or four more times during the first mile.

The result? Despite knowing better, you start way too fast. You spend too much precious energy running sideways searching for a clear path; looking more like a quarterback trying to avoid being sacked by the enemy linemen than like a marathoner.

You pay a steep price at the end of your race.  Tired muscles.  Legs that seem like they’re made of lead. Your form is shot. Your lungs burn. Your chest feels like it will explode.

Your morale takes a beating too. An endless stream of runners pass you as you stumble towards the finish line.  To add insult to injury, a few of them have no business finishing before you.

Why does starting too fast kill your race?

Wishing for the Perfect Body?

The Athlete’s Kitchen
Copyright: Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD Aug 2016

Too many runners spend too much time complaining about their bodies:

I feel too fat. I’m too thin. I want a six-pack ab. I hate my spare tire.

Obviously, you will perform better if your body is the perfect size and bone structure for your sport—not too fat, not too skinny. If you have excess flab to lose, yes, you will run faster if you are lighter. If you are scrawny, yes, you will be more powerful if you can build some muscle. Agreed.

The target audience for this article is the many runners who already have an excellent body yet spend too much time wishing for what they believe is the perfect body. The perfect body is illusive and nearly impossible to attain. However, being satisfied with an excellent body is an attainable goal. An excellent body might be less muscular than desired, or have more body fat than you want, but it is more than good enough.

Fat is not a feeling

Maintain Fitness and Keep Weight Off This Holiday Season

During the holiday season, many runners are strapped for time but not for calories. How can you keep your hard-earned fitness and not gain weight under these conditions?

The answer is to substitute the CESW (Convenient Efficient Speed Workout) for one or more your regular runs.

Why?  This workout really cranks up your metabolism so that you burn calories long after finishing.

Convenient? You can perform the CESW right out your front door, without having to travel to a track or gym.  You can also run the CESW indoors on a treadmill.

Efficient?  The entire workout including warmup and cooldown takes only 30-40 minutes.

For Weight-Sensitive Runners: Food for Thought

FoodChoiceThe Athlete’s Kitchen
Copyright: Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD   Dec 2015

While many athletes yearn to be leaner and lighter, some athletes have to be leaner and lighter. As a runner, your sport does not have weight classes (as does wrestling, light-weight rowing), but the sport is sensitive to weight. Hence, you may put pressure on yourself to achieve a weight that might defy your genetic physique. Some runners can achieve the desired lightness healthfully; others struggle with poor energy, lethargy, and depressed mood.

It’s no secret that disordered eating practices are common among weight-conscious athletes.

An estimated 30% to 60% of active women and up to 19% of active men struggle with finding the right balance of food and body-fatness (1). Their quest to be light easily leads to restrictive food intake, over-exercising, and too little fuel to support normal body functions. In women, strict diets trigger amenorrhea —loss of regular menstrual periods. While some women seem content to get rid of that monthly hassle, they lack knowledge that amenorrhea leads to weaker bones, higher risk of stress fractures (today) and early osteoporosis (in the future). It’s hard to be a life-long runner when your skeleton won’t support your goals.

Science Has Great News for Runners Over 40

RunningInField2The common belief that we inevitably lose muscle as we age is being debunked by research. There is mounting evidence that muscle loss has to more to do with lack of use than age.  This conclusion is welcome news for runners (and other masters athletes).

A study by Dr. Vonda Wright at the UPMC Center for Sportsmedicine in Pittsburgh assessed the fitness and strength of recreational masters runners, cyclists and swimmers.  Her subjects ranged in age from 40 to 81.  Dr. Wright used MRI scans of the upper leg to measure muscle and fat content. She found no significant decline in muscle size or strength due to aging.  The MRIs of the quadriceps of her 40 year old and 70 year old subjects were virtually identical.  In comparison, MRI scans of a sedentary 70 year old’s quad show a shrunken muscle covered in fat. We use it so we don’t lose it!

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