Some Lessons I've Learned as a Masters Runner

I've been at this for about five years after a 20-year hiatus, so I've definitely learned what has worked and what has not worked so well as a 40+ runner.

1. Build That Base: Until this year, I have never periodized. I've pretty much trained the same every week all year round: Long run, tempo type workout, intervals or a race with easy days mixed in. This Spring I hired a coach and I am in the process of completing a 9-week summer base, which has been my most productive period of running since the summer before I started college. I haven't raced in this period, but it hasn't all been slow distance. I've done hill workouts, tempos, progression runs, technique drills, adding up to a lot of mileage. I like the idea of having 2 seasons: A Spring/Summer season from around St. Patrick's Day to July 4 and a Fall season from Labor Day to XC nationals in early December. The cold, dreary months of winer and the hot 'n humid Ohio summer days are perfect for building that foundation for cool weather PR races.

2. Less is Not Always More: I got in shape real fast on a low mileage, high intensity program and I've progressed pretty well over the past few years. This year I felt like I hit a plateau and needed something a little different so I hired a coach. I like the way my training has transformed. It feels more natural to divide my racing into seasons and I've been doing a wider variety of workouts that concentrate on more aspects of my game. I always thought I was a low mileage guy, but once I learned to do my easy days real easy everything has started to fall into place. There is a place for lower high-intensity mileage, especially if you do a lot of cross training or are injury prone, but I'm a runner who can't do anything else very well, so right now it's best for me to run as much as I can handle, which is more than I initially thought I could. Basically, if something is working for you, keep at it, but if you feel like you've hit a plateau change things up. We're all experiments of one!

3. Stay Lean: For most of my masters running 'career' I've weighed about ten pounds more than I did in college even though I'm the same height. After a pretty intense training block this summer, I'm only a few more pounds of my college weight now and much more toned. My abs have never been this strong. I'm right where I need to be now to run my best as a masters runner this fall.

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