Sunday, October 11, 2015

How To Prevent Age Related Running Speed Loss

Now that's a strong calf
It's a sad fact but true. As a runner, you get slower as you age. This is partly due to the weakening of muscles around your ankles and calves according to a recently published article.

The article looked at a whole range of variables across a wide range of runners. The runners studied ranged from age 23 to 59 years old. The runners were filmed running at their normal pace on a treadmill with a high speed video camera.

The older runners in the study maintained the same stride frequency as the younger runners (about 83 strides/ minute). The one glaring difference was that they had a much shorter stride length, which the authors felt reduced their running speed.

Stride length and running speed decreased by about 20 percent from age 20 to 59. Ankle power also dropped by almost 48 percent during the same time frame leading the researchers to conclude that runners could probably maintain their running speed by increasing their calf muscle strength and power.

The authors suggested that strengthening the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles (which make up the calf muscles) will benefit runners. They suggested using a combination of slow reps but with heavy weight workouts and faster but using lower weight power workouts to strengthen the calf and to stave off the slowdown.

The authors were also impressed that the runners managed to maintain their weight through the decades and suggested that long term running could be an effective way to maintain weight without medication.

Personally, I feel that if you ran with good technique, you won't need to strengthen your calves. Look at the Kenyans and the Ethiopians that win all the big races all over the world, have they got big strong calves?


DeVita P, Fellin RE et al (2015). The Relationships Between Age And Running Biomechanics. Med Sci Sports Ex. Epub. DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000744.

Here's another look - thanks to Vinny for the pictures

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