Monday, November 1, 2010

Extra work just to stay the same

I recently read an article stating that men past the age of 40 will lose muscle mass even if their rate of activity and exercise remains constant. The trick to maintain a specified base level is to increase the amount of effort incrementally over time. Working more just to keep from losing what I already have is not an appealing thought. I love to run and this activity helps me maintain a healthy body and mind. However, I do wonder why my paces seem to average closer to mid 9's rather than low 9's over the last year. It was a hot summer and I know that factored into my performance. I figured as the weather cooled off my run times would begin to improve. Prior to the Dirty Sock 10K I was focusing on faster paces over short distances and was regularly nailing mid to high 8's on runs below 5 miles. More recently, I've focused on longer distances (6+ miles) for my weekend runs and when I do that I find that I'm back in the 9:30-9:50 range.

The last week isn't representative of my potential because I've been fighting a bad cold. The previous weekend, when I reran the Cow Harbor 10K course, I was only able to manage a 9:33 pace for the 6.2 miles under ideal conditions. I'll agree that regularly meeting last year's numbers will require some extra work. It may be time to re-engineer my training and add more strength and speed work. Or maybe I'll just run longer and hope for the best.


  1. 40 is just a # and everyone is different. For example my max HR is 236. Can you guess my age? Hint: I am older than you. Don't believe the muscle mass or performance peak stuff. Go back to the basics. Stop pushing for speed on every run. Spend at least 80-90% of your training at a very comfortable conversational pace (for you that may be a 10 to 10:30 pace. 7-15% of your runs should be tempo pace at @9 min pace and the remaining 3-5% can be all out speed work at 8-8:30 pace. My pace recommendations are just guesses based on your previous training and racing posts. The 80% is your base that you build the rest of your training on. My guess is that you usually have a pace goal and have not built the base. A strong base will let you get much faster. Mid 6 minute paces are probably in your future within a year.

  2. James - Thanks for that perspective. I've always thought of myself as a 9-something runner so a dip into the tens seems somewhat regressive. But if the program of predominent comfortable pacing supplemented by tempo runs and speed work will help me achive better performace I'm willing to try.

    Thanks for that. I know that age is just a number but some people are built better for performance than others. I see your numbers and think "that's in a different league entirely." But your training strategy is certainly worth exploring.


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