QT: Getting Older and Racing Hard are Not Mutually Exclusive

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I don’t usually find myself ruminating on the questions that are posed in the monthly Q&A episodes.

Especially the questions about elite runners that Lewis tends to ask.

I’m convinced my man keeps asking these questions to try and get a reaction out of me, and I do my best every month to grind his gears by moving on quickly.

But I found myself going back to one of his questions from last month, and the more I thought about it the more convinced I became that I left a lot of meat on the bone.

Sounds like a problem we can solve, so let’s dig in.

How Old is Too Old?

The question in question was related to Kenenisa Bekele still racing as a pro at the tender age of 41.

Great Questions

And while I really don’t care whether or not he ever runs a pro race again, I kept coming back to the number in question.

Sure, 41 is past the prime for most professional athletes, even runners.

But is it too old to expect strong performances? To push our bodies hard, and to expect them to respond?

What About Us?

So a professional runner is still making a living at 41 years old.

How does that apply to you and me?

I think there are a few takeaways from this situation, that might just apply to most of us non-professionals.

No Need to “Give Up” at a Certain Age

Sure, Father Time is undefeated.

At some point, for all of us, we will set our final PRs.

It's True

But that doesn’t mean all is lost.

We can still get out there and run hard on race day, pushing our limits, and going from the start line to the finish line in the shortest amount of time possible at any age.

You don’t have to keep racing hard, obviously.

But if you want to? There is no age where you are no longer able to pin on a bib and drop the hammer.

Longevity isn’t a Pipe Dream

Despite what some of your non-running friends or family members might tell you, you’re not going to ruin your knees by running.

While 41 doesn’t feel as old as it used to feel, let’s put into perspective what that age means to someone like Bekele.

I don’t know his full running resume, and as you can probably guess I don’t care, but I’m sure he’s been running at a high level for something close to 25 years.

Would it be a stretch to assume that in those 25 years, he’s logged something in the neighborhood of 100,000 miles between training and racing?

Probably not.

For most of us, even if we are closing in on 20+ years of running, there is no reason to think we are “running out of time” in the sport.

You’ve probably still got thousands of miles still to go, if continuing to run is something you want to do into your old age.

Adapt Your Training, Still Race Hard

I think the biggest thing we need to keep in mind as we get older is that our training will likely have to adapt and evolve.

Maybe your weekly volume goes down a bit.

You add in a little extra cross-training.

Maybe you “only” do a big long run every other week, or every third week, instead of weekly.

The point is, as we get older we absolutely need to adapt our training.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t still race hard.

Runners can Age Like a Fine Wine (or Scotch)

The fact of the matter is, all of us are older today than we have ever been.

And with a little luck, all of us will be a little older tomorrow than we are today.

While there are certain aspects of aging that we can’t avoid, no matter what we do, we have a choice in how we age.

We can age like milk or we can age like a fine wine or a good scotch.

The choice is yours.

But for me, the choice is obvious.


Despite what you may have heard, getting older doesn't mean you have to stop racing hard. #runchat Click To Tweet

How Much Do You Expirement When Applying New Principals to Your Training?

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