Those who spend a lot of time with me know I hold a strong belief that a life well lived can have the years between 50-60 as the prime years of a person’s life. At least in regards to the events you can control.
I meet so many types of 50 year olds, from those who have the vitality that made me initially think they were 38 to those so run down I’m shocked when I find they aren’t 69.
It’s a thing for me. It contributes as to why I really like working with this age group, they are so diverse and insightful.
Now, let me not ignore this obvious point: most 55 year olds are not as fast as most 25 year olds.
I mean in general, the 50 year olds at GHP are faster than a lot of people I know outside of my sports life hahaha.
Often with athletic folks, the life cycle I observe is:
- Compete hard in teens and maybe much of the 20s
- Train as you can in 30s with young children
- Hardly train & play in 40s as children and other responsibilities mount higher, like helping parents
- Find yourself at 53 with way more free time than you have experienced in probably 20-30 years and want to get back to hobbies. But what happened to your body!
And that’s the active people, many don’t do anything athletic after 23 until they have some “come to Jesus” moment about their health at 48.
For many, it’s time for endurance sports because you’ve said bye bye to those fast twitch fibers. Plus, knees. Ouch.
Of course there are exceptions. Some of you got into sports in your 30s. Some runners are quite relentless about getting their miles in their entire life and just run with their kids as they grow up so they never really get profoundly out of shape.
I think running is easy to keep up through life as you don’t need to “go” anywhere tp dp. Get a few miles while your life’s activities are happening. Kids at dance practice, go run.
Something that’s been expressed to me a lot as a coach is “Donald, this type of training wasn’t very available when I was in high school & college”.
Yea, athletic personal training was not commercially available in 1988.
That means you are likely recently learning about how strength training helps with longevity, power, and speed with me or a similar type of person. Many of you first heard of the word “plyometric” when I said it to you.
It’s jump training for those who still don’t know.
I’ve had the privilege of helping people here run their “post kids” best performances - that means the fastest they’ve run in 15-20 years. Or help people build speed and athleticism they never really had.
To feel the healthiest they have ever felt in their life, at an age where they may have a classmate that died last year because of a lifestyle related disease.
Just because you’re 50 doesn’t mean you have to be slow.
So, how can you get faster (or just stay fast) at an age when it’s hard to organize enough peers to do a sport?
- Strength training.
Yes, being stronger helps you be more explosive which helps you be faster. But that’s not why I wrote it.
Strength training helps your bones stay solid. Muscular stress on the bones cues the body to keep laying down calcium on them. Osteoporosis is the antithesis of athleticism. Can’t jump for a basketball if your bones will shatter when you land. Also, if you play ultimate frisbee at some point you’re going to dive for the disc and hit the ground.
You can’t be fast with a broken hip.
Also, tendon health. I’ve spoken on this a lot
1. Jump & sprint.
This applies if you’re 15 or 50. You get faster by doing fast movements. If you only ever go on slow 6 mile runs, you won’t get faster. Do some fast mile-slow mile tempos and stress your body. Run a 8min mile and then run a 11min mile, and then repeat. It’s okay to go fast.
So I’m 30, and there are soooo many internet memes about being 30 and the body just going downhill. While I love to joke about this to my 17 year old nephew - last week in the gym a group of us joked about how cathartic it is to just groan unecessarily - I actually am not a fan of these jokes. My body feels amazing - save for this high ankle sprain. There’s a meme “over 25 year olds, raise your hand the last time you ran full speed.”
I last ran full speed on Tuesday.
I was at the Allderdice Dragon race the other day, and Michele (who is 60) told me, “I’m coming after you today”. I was legit nervous about her passing me up.
Sure, you may have some health restrictions to be mindful of, but your goal is to work around those, not succumb to them.
Sprint more. Hills are a safe way to work on sprinting.
Run & bike fast tempos.
Do some plyometrics - box jumps, ankle jumps, squat jumps, etc
Play your sport with younger people.
2. Do your regeneration work.
Yes 50 is fun, but I’m not naive, 50 can hurt. I’m 30 and have experienced pulling muscles because I didn’t warm up. My flexibility is literally decreasing as I write this because I haven’t accepted that I need to stretch more often.
Your injuries don’t heal as fast. Muscles don’t recover as quickly. Flexibility, LOL.
Warm up. First of all. Y’all make me upset, telling me about your knee pain but you don’t warm up before you run. You deserve better, my friend.
Stretch when you are done. Stretch on your off days. Stretch when you wake up. Stretch when you finish work.
Use the foam roller. Go get a massage every now and then.
Do for nice long walks, runs, & rides to keep building up that cardiovascular system. That helps your body recover faster.
Just because you’re 50 doesn’t mean you have to be slow. It’s a mindset. Fast is relative, of course, but you don’t have to be light years away from your former self just because you’re middle aged.
If you want to reclaim your athleticism and be in an environment with others that have the same mindset, head to the website and drop a line.