Jen St Jean has returned to the track after a long lay off with the goal of running her best times ever.
After college, she was running on an Olympic Development team but for a number of reasons she felt that it was time to walk away from the competitive running scene. She left the track, got a corporate job, started a family, but running was always her release.
Eventually, however, Jen found her way back to the track. Now she’s competing on the masters circuit, and is taking on some of the best masters runners in the world.
Here are some of the highlights from my chat with Jen St Jean.
Many of the runners that I’ve met, both in real life and that I’ve talked to on the podcast, have expressed a desire to keep running for as long in life as possible.
Sure, they might slow down and may not run as far, but as long as they are able to go running on a semi-regular basis they are fine with going slower.
But that begs the question, is slowing down as you age inevitable?
Slowing Down as You Age is Only Logical
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to grasp the concept that at a certain point, age related decline is to be expected.
Cars break down more often as they get older.
Computers and smart phones definitely slow down after you’ve had them for a year or two.
So it only makes sense that the human body would as well. (Spoiler alert, we do slow down!)
Researchers in a recent study that was published in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise set out to try and explain why we slow down as we get older.
What Causes Runners to Slow Down as They Age?
It looks like there are too main causes for slowing down as you age, though they are definitely related.
One of the biggest findings of the study is that as runners age, their stride length shortens considerably. A shorter stride is one of the two major causes of decreased speed (the other being a slower cadence), and the older the participants in the study were the shorter their strides were.
The other main finding from this study showed that older runners actually pushed off of the ground with less force than their younger counterparts. Pushing off with less force is going to propel you a shorter distance (hello shorter stride length), so it’s pretty easy to see how a weaker push directly translates to slowing down.
But Is the Loss of Speed Inevitable?
Laurie Wisotsky got her start in running after watching Katie Holmes run the New York City marathon. She figured if Katie could do it, so could she.
After running several marathon races over the course of a handful of years, and dealing with a series of injuries and recoveries, she’s decided to settle into running shorter distances and competing in Master’s races and events.
Her decision to stop running marathons and focusing on shorter distances wasn’t one that came easily, but after a year and a half of short distance running she concedes that the switch was the best thing she’s done for herself in terms of running.
We talked a lot about her transition from long distance to short distance racing, the roll her team of coach and physical therapist played in the decision, the rise in popularity of masters track events, and a whole lot more. Here are some of the highlights of our conversation: Read more