Training Tips For Seniors

By Sal Citarella

Recently, renowned Coach G. Howid Hurtz, of Gopher County Community College and The Gopher It Running Club, gave a presentation at the Seniors’ Center to help us older folks remain fit and active. His talk was aimed primarily at runners in age 70 and up. It’s no secret that many of us are beginning to question the merit of continuing to train in anticipation of that “one more race.

“Sure, we lose speed as we age, so we gotta run smarter. Distances are arbitrary, too. Miles? Yards? Don’t let others impose their standards on you. Walk breaks are to be expected; incorporate them into your race plan. All ultrarunners use walk breaks.

“What’s that? You say you’re not training for an ultra but for the Parks & Rec 5K? At your age, it’s all the same.

“When you feel like your lungs are going to burst, your heart might stop, or your feet no longer lift off the road, it’s okay to walk. Take a few deep breaths, straighten up your spine, don’t let your knuckles drag. Then, when you have recovered sufficiently get back into race mode by accelerating your breathing rate and using your arms vigorously. This will probably not allow you to increase your pace, but it will make you feel faster.

“Another trick is to aim for specific goals along the way. See that telephone pole up ahead? Focus on it! You can do it! Don’t stop walking until you reach it. Then GO for the next pole. Walk to that one.

“I can’t promise you that there will be any snacks left at the table by the time you get to the Finish Line, but by golly, you’ll know you gave it your all.”

“Still living in the past? Which one is the real you?”

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And speaking of amazing senior runners:

Johnny Kelley was an American long-distance runner who twice represented the U.S. at the Summer Olympics, 1936 and 1948, and competed in the Boston Marathon over 50 times, winning in 1935 and 1945. He ran his last full marathon at Boston in 1992 at the age of 84. (Photo by Karen Mitchell, Falmouth, MA 2004. Johnny was 97 years old. He passed away in October of the same year.)
Ed Whitlock of Milton, Ontario, Canada. Here he is competing at the 2000 Run for the Diamonds 9 Mile Race in Berwick, PA. He held many age group records in all distances, including being the first person over 70 years old to run a marathon in less than three hours (2:59:10 in 2003). On October 16, 2016, Whitlock, aged 85, ran the Toronto Marathon in 3:56:38, setting a new world record. (Photo by Clay Shaw)


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