Over the Hill
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Over the Hill

Over the Hill

by T.J. Murphy

So maybe you're not an Ironman, but you can still continue to run as you get older. Thankfully, running can help to slow down the aging process. Vigilantly adopting a few of these strategies into your overall routine will help keep you running forever.

Stretch the Calves
Triathlon legend Scott Molina, 42, with 104 wins to his credit, is still racing. He believes routine stretching is key and that special attention must be paid to our lower legs. "Most older runners will find their calves and Achilles tendons setting the limits," says Molina. "Do full-range-of-motion calf stretches and calf raises three times a week. Do them one leg at a time, 2-4 x 15 repetitions each leg."

Swim Easy with Fins
Carol Virga, a longtime runner who coaches in Boca Raton, Florida, qualified for the 1992 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon with a 2:44:30 at the of age 42. "Swimming is a great activity for runners," says Virga. "Not swim training-like hard workouts in a masters program-but gentle laps in a pool. Stretch it out with your stroke and use swim fins to lengthen leg muscles."

Buy New Shoes Frequently and Rotate Them
When the midsoles of your running shoes have had it, the punishment they once absorbed during your runs is being transmitted to your skeleton. Buy a couple pairs of good running shoes every 500 miles (more often if you are a heavy runner) and rotate them in your workouts to prolong their life and your running.

Supplement with Glucosamine for Fresh Knees
Glucosamine is part of the makeup of joint cartilage and is integral to the lubrication and shock-absorption duties of our joints-in particular the knee. As we age, the concentration of glucosamine slips downward, as does its ability to absorb water. A study by Karel Pavelka, M.D., Ph.D., showed that taking glucosamine supplements helps prevent this water loss and reduces pain.

Get Your Antioxidants
A study by Christiaan Lecawenburgh and published in the American Journal of Physiology showed evidence that the "intervention" of antioxidants slows down basal skeletal muscle oxidation, a primary component of aging. Get your antioxidants by taking vitamin E, vitamin C and beta-carotene, and drinking green tea.

Strength Train Twice a Week
Training with weights two times a week is one of the best cross-training activities. A well-rounded, full-body program helps you veer away from muscle imbalances, strengthens joint stabilizing muscles like the knee, and tunes the important muscles that surround your trunk.

Find the Dirt
Portland-based coach Patti Finke, M.S., has completed more than 75 marathons and 75 ultramarathons. Running trails is not only her secret of longevity but of improved performance. "It works your VO2max, muscular endurance and lactate threshold," says Finke. Trails are also easier on a runner's skeleton than the unforgiving sidewalk.

Train for a Short-Distance Triathlon
Jim Kirwin directs the Track Shack's Marathon Training Program in Orlando, Florida. "Triathletes have the best situation," Kirwin says. "They alternate swimming, biking and running." A low-key triathlon training program will give both your mind and body a break from strictly running, and your base fitness will only improve.

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