In part one of this blog (missed it? Catch up here) I spoke with 6 badass master’s athletes about how they train to get faster as a master. In part two we discuss what it takes mentally to get across the finish line. This post gets a bit raw with honesty, and I have to admit it’s a bit comforting to know I’m not the only one trying to figure it all out. Spoiler alert: even pro’s are human.
I’m inspired by the grit, dedication to training and love of the sport shared by these women. I’m left with a full heart and refocused mind, ready to tackle my fall training plan. No matter what your age, pace or experience level I hope you enjoyed this too.
Now, on to the rest of the story...
We all know comparison of ourselves is not constructive, but it is still a reality as one transitions to new phase of life. Have you experience negative self-talk creeping in as master’s runner, either by comparing yourself to others or to your younger self? If so, how have you worked through that?
Jennifer: Negative self-talk is a reality everywhere, in any sport or career or even in motherhood (or not). I have some amazing women friends. My family is super supportive too. I try to keep company with those who are with me when I am up and when I am down. I have also learned that I am not for everyone.
I have not mastered how to not compare myself to my younger self. My goal is to run faster than her. I guess when I look at age-graded charts, I’ve surpassed her but I’m still chasing her down. This was my goal when I turned 40 and thought that it was attainable then, I’ve realized that it may not happen. I’ve had a number of setbacks since I set that goal that I did not anticipate. So I’ve had to loosen the grip on that and I am okay with it. Acceptance of where I am today right now and finding the beauty in just being out there is a huge accomplishment.
Erika: I have to be honest - I am one of those people who believes when I step onto the starting line, that I will win the race. Even if every one of the others are faster than me. I call it blissful ignorance. As for comparing myself to my younger self, I know that I will never run a 54 second 400 meters again. Ever. But, my goal isn't to do that. One of my goals is to run sub 60 in the 400 which (according to the age-grade calculators) would be a way greater effort at my age than running even a 52 second 400! I did 60.79 this spring so I am getting very close. And ultimately, every time I step onto the track to run in a race, I look around and just remember how few people are doing what I am doing. And that gives me so much personal pride. I would NEVER want go back to being a 25 year old runner.
Rebecca: I’m not going to lie, I always wish I was faster and stronger. Some days, I recognize how far I’ve come and feel proud of what I’ve been able to do as Master. Others, I’m looking back on my younger self or at what my peers are doing and wishing I could do more; could be as good or better. But, it’s a slippery slope. I try really hard to be in the moment and give my best for that particular time. I make it a priority to focus on the here and now and to embrace that with each workout. I happen to coach high school girls XC and track and I’m always stressing the importance of a positive mental attitude and approach to running so I try really hard to practice what I preach. It’s not easy, but it helps that I want the same for my athletes that I do for myself.
Laurie: Absolutely, on a regular basis. For a long time I struggled with the thoughts of "you're a 40 something year old woman, why are you doing this" It has helped to see the other masters Volee (and masters friends that aren't Volee) out there kicking ass. I don't feel like the only crazy one, haha. In all seriousness, negative self talk is a roller coaster for me. I have thoughts that I'm not good enough or fast enough. I do talk with a sports psychologist on occasion. She is part of Oiselle, Adrienne Langelier. She is awesome. I read a lot of books. I have found surrounding myself with positive, uplifting runners helps. Finally, I like to make an inspiration board at the start of every training cycle where I write out not only my goals but positive affirmations. I hang it where I can see it everyday.
Donna: This is a excellent question because only recently did I get smacked with reality that I was comparing myself to my younger self and being really critical... I knocked that off right away and with all running has given me I'm really too blessed too be stressed! Basically Being a Masters Runner excites me, it means I get a brand new chance to challenge my longevity!
Catherine: Yes. This for me has usually been when I am running slower than I would like. There is still this part of me that really wants to PB or run a super fast workout time. I know that is more unlikely as I am aging. I sometimes just need to remind myself that I am grateful to be out doing what I love and that it is about embracing that and doing the best I can on the day.
How does your running community embrace master’s runners? How do you connect with a younger runner?
Jennifer: I can’t say that masters running is embraced by my community. My community is not very big on running beyond high school. At most local masters events we do not have a very big showing. I am trying to use my voice to help change this situation. I try to alert my friends of events that are taking place & get more of us to be present.
I’ve connected with a lot of younger runners. I find it is easier to do this through social media. I race a lot against young collegiate runners. I am hoping that this helps them to see that they can continue to run after college & even into their adult years.
Erika: Charlottesville, Virginia is a running town. Every weekend there is a 5k or a 10k that people can do, and the Masters running community is extensive. However, I don't run 5ks. I do Heptathlons, hurdlers, sprints, and jumps. I don't know anyone in my town that trains like I do, so all of my training is done solo. And, anytime I want to run in a meet, I have to travel to do it. That takes a lot of time away from my family as well as a lot of money for travel to get there. Because of this, I have to be very selective with where I compete. I try to do 2-3 meets per season (indoor and outdoor), so about 6 for the year. It makes me sad that this is a sport that you need to have money - and that even for the most elite Masters runners, sponsorship's are few and far between which means if you don't have the means, you can't really compete. I wish that would change. As for connecting with younger runners, I think the best thing I can do for younger female track and field athletes is to let them know that their track career does not have to end after high school or college. And, that they better watch out out for us, because we might just beat them!
Rebecca: I’ve found that the running community is super supportive in regards to Masters runners. There are times when I show up for a race and really feel like I stand out because of my age. Once in a while I’m a little self-conscious about it. But, usually it’s more in my own head than anything. And, really, I find that when we all get in line at the start, the age lines blur and we become one big group of people who are just trying to achieve our best for the day. I happen to be on several running teams, many of them with a lot of younger runners. Age really doesn’t matter when I’m hanging out with these crews. We’re just people who share a passion for running and are excited about connecting and supporting each other. I love that and I find a lot of strength in it.
Laurie: The Tampa Bay area has an awesome running and tri community. Because the weather is nice pretty much all year, we have a lot of active people of all ages. There are many running groups in my area with runners that range from age 10 to 70+. It's pretty awesome. You see a lot of the same people out on training runs and at local races. Everyone is so welcoming.
Donna: The support system coming from all ages is my biggest motivation! We are all so different and that's the best part!
Catherine: My running community is fully welcoming of master’s runners. I run with runners of all ages and feel part of the entire running community. I have been lucky to also be surrounded by amazing masters role models, who demonstrate daily how strong and fit masters runners are. I love running with my younger team mates. Watching them excel is inspirational to me. I think it is really important for athletes of all ages and abilities to recognize how hard we are all working towards our own goals and to focus on our own development rather than comparing ourselves with others
Any other words of wisdom to share?
Jennifer: “Age is a case of mind over matter, if you don’t mind, it don’t matter.” - Leroy Satchel Paige.
Erika: Not to beat a dead horse, but rest and recovery is the key. Also, set out to live a balanced life. It would be easy to resent the other parts of your life that get in the way of your training. BUT if you re-frame it and think that it is THOSE OTHER THINGS that you have to do that make you better at everything, you will be more content. Winning that "A" race is not the thing that will bring you long term happiness. You have to find the joy in the simple act of RUNNING in that race. Setting time goals of course are important and it feels awesome to run a time that you wanted to run, but don't think that is what it's all about. It about the fact that you are out there.
Rebecca: Age really shouldn’t be a barrier in whatever you are trying to achieve. Sure, you might have to adjust and modify to make it work. But there is no reason you can’t dream as big, if not bigger at age 40 than you did at age 25. My biggest mistake was thinking that a goal was unachievable because of either how far off I was or the fact that I was getting older. What it comes down to is this, if you want it badly enough and you’re willing to do the work, you can make it happen.
Laurie: Stay consistent in your recovery. Listen to your body. Don't be a "wait and see" athlete. If you feel something is not right, get it checked or take off an extra day or two. It has saved me from many setbacks. Finally, embrace rest days. I think many runners have a hard time taking off from running. For some reason we have this mentality that we have to run everyday (myself included for a long time). Once I started looking at rest days as something I've earned, it became much easier to embrace them. I train 6 days a week so on my one rest day I feel like I deserve it because I have worked hard the other days. It gives me a chance to "sleep in", enjoy my morning coffee and get things done that maybe I normally would not.
Donna: I've found You must be a cheerleader for your mind because the mind is what Runs the whole body and spirit!
Catherine: Reminding ourselves that we are still capable of huge things athletically as we age is important. We may not be as fast as we once were, however we are still out there doing what is important to us and what we love. Being grateful for what our bodies allow us to do while focusing on our strength and abilities is key.
Follow the journey of these amazing women at their social media handles
Have you ever used a hashtag on a social media post as a form of motivation? Possibly a little phrase that gives you a little extra push? Or perhaps this hashtag is a mantra used to keep your focus during times of doubt? Well, I do. My hashtag is #fasterasamaster. Here is the thing, right now I know I am not at my fullest potential as a masters runner, but my focus is to get there. I want to be faster than I am right now, and reach goals that might be just a little out of my current range. You guessed it, my goal is to be Faster as a Master.
Two of my favorite Principals of Flight from the Oiselle Volée are: Build the Sisterhood and Be a Superfan. There are so many empowering athletes on our team who are a wealth of knowledge. So many opportunity’s to be a Superfan..and that’s what today's blog is about. Searching the sisterhood to seek out those on my team who I find inspiring and learn from them..
I spoke to 6 accomplished master's field runners from the Oiselle Volée
team asking “What does it mean to be #fasterasamaster?" This list of incredible women includes, Jen St. Jean, Erika Pietrzak Pierce, Rebecca Trachsel, Laurie Wisotsky, Donna Mills Honarvar, and Catherine Watkins. Their day to day lives differ, they run a variety of distances, but they all have a common thread of training and racing as a master. We talked about everything from how they fuel, to how they conquer the mental challenges of the sport. These woman answered honestly, sharing so much information that has left me incredibly motivated for my fall races.
Grab your coffee, and maybe a snack..this is a long form, but so worth the read. I am posting this in two posts because the answers were just too good to edit into one. Part one focuses on the physical part of running. In part two (which I will share in coming days) we discuss the mental challenges that come with being a master’s athlete and how to use that as a motivation to aim higher.
Please share your name, where you live, highlights of your masters running accomplishments and if you don’t mind your age. (not to highlight your age, but it helps others relate)
Jennifer: Jennifer St. Jean from Connecticut USA, 42 years old
My accomplishments include: Gold Medalist @ USATF Outdoor Masters, 1500m ’17 Silver Medalist @ World Masters 1500m '15,Olympic Trials Outdoor MIP 1500 meters 2nd '16, 3 x 5th Avenue Mile Age Division Champion '14-'16, USATF Indoor Masters Nationals 2nd Place 1 mile & 800 meters '15, USATF Masters 10k Championship 3rd '15, Oakley Mini 10k Masters Champion '15
Erika: Erika Pietrzak Pierce, I am 46 and I live in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Highlights of my Masters Accomplishments include 3 Age Group American Records (W40 Indoor Heptathlon, W45 Indoor Heptathlon and W45 Outdoor Heptathlon) and over 10 National Age Group Titles at USATF Masters Track and Field Championships. In my "first" running life, I ran in the 1996 Olympic Trials in the 400 meter hurdles.
Rebecca: Rebecca Trachsel from Winchester, MA, Age:42
Race Highlights include: Sugarloaf Marathon - 3:00:16, 3rd Female, 1st Master, May 2017, LA Marathon - 3:05:29, 1st Female Master, February 2016, Mohawk Hudson Marathon - 3:04:05, 4th OA Female, 1st Master, October 2015, Earth Rock Run Half Marathon - 1:26:39, 1st OA Female, April 2017, BAA 5K - 19:02, 3rd Master, April 2017
Laurie: Laurie Wisotsky. I am 46 and live in Largo, Florida.
I am a mom of 2 kids, ages 12 & 13, both in competitive sports (soccer and dance). I stay pretty busy with a lot of travel to soccer tournaments, dance competitions, and track races. Some of my greatest running master's accomplishments are qualifying for the Boston and NYC marathons, being named USATF FL Master's athlete of the year in 2014 for track , medaling at the Outdoor and Indoor Track National Championships in the 800m and 1500m and finally, getting a New Balance Tampa sponsorship (which I just recently stepped away from).
Donna: Donna Mills Honarvar I reside in Mountain Center, Ca.I am 42 years of age.
Some of my Masters running accomplishments are: 2015 Austin Cap 10k 38:02 1st Female Masters, 2015 Philadelphia RNR Half Marathon 3rd Place Master's 1:20:33, 2015 Houston Marathon 2:57 (2nd marathon), 2015 Boston Marathon 3:08, 2015 Grandma's, Marathon 2:55:03, 2015 CIM 2:55:33, 2016 Houston 2:59, 2017 Overall Female winner Tustin Hangar Half Marathon, 2017 USATF Master's Championship 2nd Overall Masters Female ,2017 Overall Female winner Huntington Beach Surf City 5k
Catherine: Catherine Watkins, age 45 but almost 46
Race Accomplishments: 8th place at Pan Am Games Marathon at age 43, was able to represent Canada Winning the 2015 Eugene Marathon in 2:42 at age 43 1st Master at the 2015 Houston Marathon at age 43 10k pb of 33:52 at age 43
When you transitioned to a master’s field, did you make modifications? For example, did your goals change, adjust the length of your training schedule or add a new type of workout to your training routine?
Jennifer: I think everyone comes to the sport at different phases of our lives. I had a pretty competitive youth career. Racing competitively for two years after college before hanging up my spikes. I took nearly 15 years off from racing. I ran with no training schedule during that time. I focused on my family & my career. After some health issues, I decided to return to competitive running. I felt that this was the only way to get my health back. I returned pretty slowly, running on average 20 miles a week for the first year. Then moved up to 30 and for the past 2 years have been between 30-40 miles a week. I’ve tried a few different training programs during the past 4 years. I have found the best training for me is not so much volume but variety. I do yoga, walk my dog, lifting weights, plyometrics, drills, long runs of no more than 7 miles and speed workouts. I’m always trying to analyze what works and what doesn’t. It takes a while for me to figure out what will work best at the time. I think there is no one size fits all. I love training for shorter distances because my body feels less fatigued. I feel stronger. I am lacking some endurance right now so I may get back to some of that in the fall
Erika: I took 17 years off from training and competing before getting back into Masters Track and Field. As a full-time teacher and a mom of two girls, I had to fit my workouts into daily "adulting" so training has been sporadic and often would take a back seat to my life. And I think as a result of not trying to train with the intensity of a 25 year old, I have avoided major injuries which is the most important thing as a Masters runner. I also have reduced the actual running I do. I probably only get onto a track twice a week and the other days I am doing yoga, stretching at home, cross-training, lifting, or just resting. I also take a few months off from running each year.
Rebecca: I started working with a coach back in 2013 right after I turned 38. At the time, I wasn’t really focused on my age. I was at a point where I wanted to see where I could take my running from a competitive standpoint. I felt that working with a coach might be more advantageous than following a standard training plan, which is what I’d been doing up until that point. Then, at age 40, under the guidance of my coach, I ran my fastest marathon, so I knew that while age makes an impact on our ability over time, I was nowhere close to being done. In a nutshell, when I transitioned to the master’s field, my goals got loftier and thus my training intensified and my overall mileage steadily increased as a result. Not quite what you’d expect, but I guess I got started kind of late in the game and was making up for lost time.
Laurie: I feel like my situation is a little unique. I was a late bloomer to the running scene. I started running when I was 37. I never ran in high school or college. I saw the NYC marathon on TV and thought "that looks hard. I want to do that. I want that challenge." So, I ran my first race, The Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco in 2008. I was 37. I have since transitioned from marathons to track. As I have gotten older, I haven't really modified my training schedule. If anything I am probably training harder now than I did when I first got into running and I still have some pretty ambitious goals. My coach has done a great job figuring out what type of training schedule works best for me to keep me injury free but still training at an elite level. As a track athlete, my training schedule has less volume, more intensity (speed work). What I have had to modify over time is my recovery.
Donna: I've learned that doing a hip routine and core helps me become a stronger runner. Also getting proper rest is the best medicine and keeps me injury free.
Catherine: As I started running competitively later in life (around 34/35 yrs old) I didn’t change a lot going into my 40's as I found I was still able to run with my younger team mates and keep up similar mileage. The past year, turning 45, that changed. I noticed an increased need for recovery. This has made me shift my mindset. Instead of total miles run being a huge part of my training, I now focus more on being rested for workout day. The overall mileage is less important than ensuring I am recovered for workouts. My goals have become more about being the best runner I can be for this age rather than aiming to break through some of my PBs. There is a part of me though that still believes I can improve some of my times. I really feel a faster marathon time is ready to be had. A big change for me is that I no longer just walk out the door to run. I now have an activation routine that I do before every run. This takes me 45 minutes if I do the full routine. I do believe this will help to prevent future injuries. I am also trying to incorporate more core, strength training, yoga and meditation into my training program. If I don’t’ have the time for a full session I ensure I add some core and strength in either right before or right after I run. Sometimes a 10-15 minutes session is much more achievable for me than a full session at the gym.
As we age, our bodies don’t always bounce back as quickly after a tough workout or racing. What does your recovery practice look like?
Jennifer: For sure, recovery takes longer. It takes me at least 2 days before I can go hard in a workout again. If I race, I may not be able to do another hard session for 5 days. I try to do a 10-day rotation when I’m racing. Sometimes this is not possible and I have to shorten it to 7 days. I can’t sustain this high intensity for long. My body usually shuts down if I go to the well too many times.
To aid in my recovery, I use massage therapy, chiropractor, stretching, nutrition supplements, hydration, compression sleeves rollers & extra sleep. I don’t know if any of this stuff actually helps. The science says that it does, so I go with it.
Erika: Well, I just ran in a track meet yesterday and literally today I am hobbling like a 90 year old! I will rest until things stop hurting. I will talk about getting a massage, but then not actually get one. I will have an extra glass of wine, ice various body parts, and just relish in the fact that I did the freaking high jump in a track meet yesterday as a 46 year old. My mental game is on point, right?!?
Rebecca: When I was younger, I would pop out of bed and hit the road. Today, I can’t even lace up without having a cup of coffee first. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that sleep is by far the most important element of my training. I have to get 8 hours a night no matter what and if it doesn’t happen I’m borderline useless. I also take naps whenever I get a chance, especially on days when I am doubling. At this point, I have two recovery days between my long run and my workouts, which is absolutely essential as I just can’t bounce back as quickly as I used to. My foam roller is my best friend. I’m on it before and after each workout, particularly on long run and workout days. Stretching is a must, mostly after but both before and after when I have time. It sounds ridiculous but I never used to do it. And finally, whenever I have a chance, I try and get to a yoga class to help with core, strength and balance. It doesn’t happen as much as I’d like, but I do try and make it a priority.
Laurie: I have a pretty solid recovery program. I have been injury free since 2013. My last injury was a stress fracture to my lower leg. I'm very regimented with my recovery. I do Physical Therapy 1-2 times a week, massage therapy once a week, strength training twice a week, one hour each session, I have a pre and post run/race stretch routine, a pre-hab night time routine, I wear compression after hard sessions and long runs, ice baths after hard workouts, and more importantly, I try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night and rest/nap when I can. My coach and I have learned that no matter what ancillary tools I throw at my recovery, sleep and rest are the clutch every time. If I have 2-3 runs in a row that don't go well, we shut down the training for a day then if I'm feeling more rested, my coach will slowly get me back into a schedule (1-2 days of easy running before giving me a speed workout).
Donna: If I have to take a day off I will... Amazing what a recovery day of sleep, compression, and hydration can do to help your body feel fresh again.
Catherine: Ideally I like to have a couple of days of recovery between workout days. This gives me more time to recover. Those days between workouts, I still run, although I have slowed the pace down a lot and also am trying not to worry as much about distance covered. This is a huge mind shift for me as before I always liked to see that higher mileage number on the training log. Another huge piece around recovery for me is nutrition. I am trying really hard to make sure I consume protein within the 30 minute recovery window after runs, especially after workouts. Typically, this is in smoothie form! I also try to make sure I foam roll every day and get regular massage to help recovery. I also see my physiotherapist every 3 weeks or so to make sure I am staying healthy physically.
On a similar note, let’s discuss nutrition? A lot of women face a slower metabolism or loss of muscle as they face hormonal changes with age? Have you modified your nutrition as master’s runner?
Jennifer: When I didn’t workout during those 15 years, I lost a lot of muscle mass. I’m still working on regaining my strength. My hormones are a mess. My last blood test said that my adrenal glands are not functioning. So I am focusing on my stress level & lifting more weights.
I am mostly gluten free. I say mostly because I can’t always avoid it. I find that I retain more water. I have Lyme disease and gluten is not beneficial to my overall health. Aside from that, I am 80/20 with respect to eating healthy. I do eat meat. My iron levels are always low and have found a hard time absorbing with plant based products, even done correctly. Lyme is the culprit here too. My belief is moderation. I try to limit alcohol & otherwise unhealthy foods. I utilize the following supplements because I like them and they work for me (these do not replace actual food in my diet): Nuun, HoneyStinger, Vega Recovery Protein & RunGum. I don’t eat a lot of bars. I only consume them when I travel & healthy food is not an option.
Erika: I have not noticed any change in my metabolism yet and I eat like I did when I was 20 year old, except more of my food is green. I also think that because I am a sprinter/hurdler/jumper, and do explosive types of movements in my training and competitions, my muscle mass is still hanging around. I spend a lot of time lifting weights and doing core work and I think that has also helped prevent injuries.
Rebecca: My nutrition has changed a lot over the past few years. For a while, as my training intensified, I found that my exhaustion levels were out of control and I just couldn’t keep up on a day to day basis. So, I began to work with a nutritionist to make sure I was getting the right balance of everything I needed. Basically, she helped me put together a plan that ensured that I met all my dietary needs with each meal depending on my training. Specifically, I make a conscious effort to eat protein within 30 minutes of finishing a long run or hard workout. I’ve also reduced my sugar intake substantially and added full fat dairy (milk,yogurt,cheese) back in to my diet. I try really hard to get fiber, omegas and healthy fats at each meal as well. If I can avoid processed foods, I give myself a pat on the back. But sometimes that’s harder with kids and a crazy family schedule. Moderation is key. And lots of avocados.
Laurie: Nutrition is always a work in progress. I eat primarily a plant-based diet but throw in chicken on occasion (that's a recent change to my diet). Fortunately, I haven't started to experience hormonal changes, but I am waiting for that shoe to drop. My biggest issue is getting in enough calories. I have a pretty high metabolism so I am constantly trying to get in good quality calories that aren't related to protein bars.
Donna: Generation UCAN has been a good base that I can rely on to keep my body steady! I don't drink alcohol and I stay balanced by eating a little all day long...Fresh food keeps me focused and I try to stay away from processed foods but I'm also human...Basically moderation is my plan per day.
Catherine: As I mentioned in my recovery practice, I am trying to consume protein in my recovery smoothie within the 30 minute post run window, however, I am also working on incorporating more protein into my daily nutrition. About 30 minutes before I run I am now taking about 12g of protein as suggested in the book “Roar” by Stacy Simms. I am also trying to take some protein in the evening before bed. I am hopeful this will slow the muscle loss associated with aging. I am also trying really hard to consume way more vegetables and fruit. I generally eat well but know I need to be even more careful now. I do have a sweet tooth and I do indulge it!
Stay tuned, this is only the beginning..part two in the coming days.
We all have heard the expression running is a metaphor for life, but lately I have realized trail running is a metaphor for living life as a master’s runner. Let me explain….
If you weren’t aware, I love a good podcast. Recently I listened to an episode of the Running for Real podcast, featuring one of my absolute favorite trail runners, Magda Boulet. In this episode, Magda speaks about transitioning her training to that of a trail runner. For those of you who don’t know, before Magda hit the trails as a prestigious ultra-runner, she specialized at the marathon distance, namely as a 2008 Olympian. In the podcast Magda speaks quite a bit on the differences, she faced as a trail runner on a new terrain. She also spoke about what tools brought her success in ultra running. I am completely paraphrasing here, but this is my summary and after a few listens, it really resonated with me.
Trail running is about managing energy levels and stress with confidence, not a sense of guilt and shame.
Those words, completely spoke to me. In the episode she discusses running trails with patience, not always taking it fast. Most times, it is better to conserve your energy, hike the hill and use your power when it is time to push it in the race. Running with your ego, or what you think your former running self would do, can drain your resources too early. The most important part though, is to do this with confidence. Yes you may be running slower, but don’t let shame or guilt creep in. If you are strategic (even if it means not always running on the trails) it will lead you to success and enable you to reach your goals.
Then it hit me. This same struggle applies to many of us have as we age. I can only speak for myself, but so many times my mind (ok, yes ego) wants to train the same way, sleep as little as possible, and face challenges head on..not with a particular strategy. The problem is I am human; I get tired and no longer can I just plow through a workout or long run without a plan in place. If I do, it sucks. When it sucks, that can easily lead to guilt and shame.
However, when I hit the trails for a long run, with the proper fuel, proper rest, and even a mantra or two the run goes well. I have learned not to push it, but to manage the training…therein lies the difference.
The same goes for life as we age as women. Just on a basic level I have to take time to make sure I am eating right, sleeping right and hydrating more. At times this takes me away from other things in my life, but staying healthy (at what I feel is my healthy place) is a priority as it assist me with managing stress…and managing that stress with confidence. The tricky part is not letting that guilt or shame creep in, but I am working on it..
On to This week’s training recap. It was not perfect, but overall I am pretty happy with it.
Thoughts on nutrition and recovery:
As I mentioned in my last post, I am working on tracking my food cycles. This is actually hard to remember to do. I am still making the effort, but need to get in a routine. My goal is to track how I feel before and after workouts and adjust my nutrition and hydration accordingly.
Stay tuned, next week is a very special blog post and if you are a master’s runner, you won’t want to miss it.
If I were to describe my first week back to a regular training cycle, it would be a quote from Kelly Roberts...“Life with a side of running”. This week has been a bit challenging in the household, which means not as much time for running. Our dog has been having trouble sleeping at night due to arthritis in his back, which means sleepless night and extra time with him in mornings and evenings as we navigate with the vet on the best way to treat this. He is on some new meds which seem be helping,, so hopefully we can ease his pain and all of us some much needed sleep.
Even though my mileage wasn’t where I wanted it to be this week, I have still began this first week of this training cycle with a new kickstart…training to race as a master. Here is a secret I have been too stubborn to accept..If I am going to run and race better, I need to adjust my training for this phase of life. I am a 46 year old active woman, not a 30 year old active woman. That means, not eating what I want (even if it is “clean eats”), and not running hard multiple times a week or heavy weight training without the proper fuel or recovery. With that being said, training as a master doesn’t mean necessarily just run more miles, or push harder, it means train differently with adjustments on some aspects (like recovery) and more attention to others (like nutrition), all while keeping the focus on reaching goals. Now that I understand what doesn’t work, I have spent the last few months trying to better understand what steps I do need to take exactly I should do in order to train as a masters runner. My conclusion, adding new tools to my running toolkit.
First up in the new training toolkit, logging my food intake and macros. I don’t count calories and have no interest in doing so, but what I have learned is I need to be eating the foods that will fuel my body not just maintain a clean diet. After reading Roar, I realized I honestly don’t have a clear understanding of my daily nutritional breakdown; so this is where I will start, tracking my macros. According to Dr. Stacy Sims advice, for a runner of my breakdown (or at least my interpretation) I need a defined combination of carbs, protein and fats in my diet. This fluctuates on training vs recovery days, but I am shooting to range around 185-200 grams of carbohydrates and 90-135 grams of protein per day. This includes a focus on carbs that are low on the glycemic index and natural food based protein sources.
This week, I began step one: logging my food, not really making adjustments to my diet, just a way to determine what nutritional value my food has. What did I discover? I don’t eat enough protein, and need more carbs from vegetables, not fruit. I have been logging my food with My Fitness Pal and while it isn’t perfect, it’s a great tool to start the process. I’ll keep you posted as I journey into this phase to share benefits and challenges to monitoring my food as fuel.
Second item for my new toolkit is…believe it or not water. Yes, I rep a hydration company and still need to focus more on my hydration. One big challenge for me as I get older is running hot. I start out a run or workout and the harder I push the hotter I get (think red face and overheating). Another gem I discovered in the book Roar is that as women age with it a hormonal shift the blood levels carry less water, thus the need keep the body cool and to hydrate before during and after a workout is even greater. (again, see the book Roar for the full scientific explanation) I tested this a couple times over the last month or so, and the days I wasn’t properly hydrated I was hot mess during my runs. The goal here is to monitor my water drinking levels and try to add a little more each day.
My last new tool isn’t actually new, but with a stronger focus…cross training. I will be the first to admit, my cross training has not been as intense as it used to be. A lot of that was due to exhaustion from weeks of hard training but a lot more if it is due to not pushing myself as hard as I can. I think I have a better handle on the exhaustion part thanks to my blood work from Athletes Blood Test. However, the pushing the workout is what I need to focus on. As a masters runner weight gain can sneak up on you and the way combat that is with high intensity workouts, and like it or not longer workouts. It was recommended to get an average of an hour a day in order to maintain the weight at my age. (those 30 minute circuits just don’t cut it these days) Once upon a time, this wouldn’t be an issue, but as life takes over and I get comfortable with an “easier” workout regimen I will need to make some adjustments. I need to build up my endurance and “power” in order to get back my strength (as well as endurance) and have more efficient runs.
So how do I put all these new tools together? My training plan for now is as follows: 3-4 days of running and 3 sessions of cross training a week. This breaks down as, 1 speed or hill workout, 1 long run, 1-2 light runs, 1-2 days of hard yoga (not restorative, but a class that pushes the power), 1 day of strength (especially with kettlebells) and 1 day of a high intensity circuit, such as a November Project workout. (One day of yoga and strength session will double on easy run days). My training plan this session is fluid, as my focus on half marathons distance this season with a buildup to a 50k in the spring.
Stay tuned, it might be bumpy road or smooth sailing, but I will do my best to share the good, the bad and the ugly along this new journey to become faster as a master.
A few years back, I had the privilege of hearing Joan Benoit Samuelson speak at a dinner before the Chicago marathon. The theme of her talk that night was run your own race. She spoke about how easy it is as a runner to get caught up in helping others keep their pace or even keeping up with another runners pace during a race. She said you should focus on doing what it takes for you to reach your goals that day and not run for others.
Lately, I have been reminded of this talk as I plot out my next set of racing goals.
Recently I have worked a few events for Nuun, assisting with sampling hydration at race expos. When asking runners which event in the race they are running, I was shocked at how many people downplayed their race. For example, if I was at a race that had a half marathon and marathon option, so many runners would say..”oh I’m just running the half”. Same thing when I worked an event that also had a 5k option, the response would seem as if they weren’t as good of a runner as those running the longer distance option. About midway through these events, I started responded back. I would praise runners for their half marathon or 5k distance, I even asked some of them to repeat the answer back to me, but this time owning that distance. I wanted them to feel empowered, not belittled by the race distance goal.
The last few weeks I have been going back and forth researching races here in LA, trying to determine what is next. And guess what…I jumped right one board that “I’m not doing good enough” train. I thought about doing a 50k this fall. All the while, I knew a running a strong 50K would be a stretch and I would rush through the training, and to be honest I couldn’t find a race I really felt strongly about doing. I still kept telling myself I must run a 50k. Every time I thought of the idea of running a 25-30K (or even two), a little voice in my head would tell me that wasn’t cool enough. After all, I am a marathon runner, aren’t I?
Seriously though, how did we (myself included) get to the point in our long distance racing that a half marathon seemed a distance that wasn't good or cool enough.
That was when I was brought back to the talk from Joan, and her message of run your race. I know deep down inside I am not ready for a 50k, I don’t want to commit to that amount of training until I have built back up my fitness levels. So why was I giving in to the runner #FOMO??? I finally came to my senses and now I intend on sticking to half marathons and 25-30K trail races this fall. You know what? I intend on owning that and committing to compete in those races…not just run. That is what I am truly craving, to excel, not to just go the distance. I have to say, when I realized it was ok to stick to those race goals that served me, and not the race goals made popular by my friends on social media, it was as if a weight was lifted.
So, as the saying goes…do you. Don’t do what others want you to do, do you. When you get there, own it, love it and most of all enjoy every single step along the way.
What’s next? Here is my tentative race schedule for fall. Training starts back July 2nd and I will share my journey each week. This time around I will focus on the difference of training to compete as a masters runner (someone over the age of 40). I have been working hard the last couple of months to understand where my fitness levels are, use nutrition to build on that, and prepare a training plan to help reach my goals. Ready or not…its time to Run Faster As a Master.
2017 Fall Running Schedule:
Bulldog Trail 25K 8/26
California Bird Camp 9/21
No Name 30K
Griffith Park trail half marathon 10/14
Kara Goucher Podium Retreat 10/19
Rock and Roll Los Angeles 10/29
Malibu half marathon and 5k (probably 5k distance)
Chino Hills 30K
This book is a total game changer.
A woman is not a small man. Therefore we cannot train like one.
As you know, I have spent the last few months trying to figure out the glitches in my body that have reeked havoc on my normal training patterns. I have lost muscle mass, gained a few pounds and just don’t have the same endurance as I am used to. Truth be told I haven’t been in a specific training regimen since October, but I am even finding it difficult just to maintain my fitness. I actually have been kind of intimated to ramping it up again.
With these changes to my body, I have been spending quite a bit of time researching, looking for some answers and suggestions on training at this phase in my life. If you have read previous posts, I had blood work done to review specific biomarkers, which I found incredibly insightful. I have also spoken with other masters runners who have offered a ton of insight, especially about recovery. However I haven’t been too successful in finding specific training and nutritional suggestions (and the reasons why)..that is until this weekend.
A few weeks back someone suggested I read the book Roar. Then I Dr. Sims joined forces with Nuun Hydration to create a great performance product that I love. Since I had been hearing so much about her and I knew I couldn't wait any longer to get this book in my hands. I received the book last week, and after skimming it, knew it would be full of great info. I was hooked after the first page and literally read it in two days. (its also saturated with highlighter notes) There are soo many enlightening details, specific strength workouts, and nutritional with hydration guidance. Keep in mind Dr. Stacy Sims is a scientist, so she shares her recommendations based on research, not the latest fitness trends.
The premise of Dr Stacy Sims philosophy is that in order for us gals to be at the best performance we must first understand the female physiology. It’s kind of a no brainer that as a woman we are different from men and that we shouldn’t train like one. However, the reality is, most running training plans do not designate between men and women, the base is usually the same. This book digs deep into the types of female bodies, how hormones can effect training each month and how to make nutrition modifications to meet an individual training needs.
What I liked most is the specific data and training suggestions this book provided for masters runners. As we age, our hormonal makeup becomes unbalanced and in some cases is depleting, so we shouldn’t be fueling and training the same as we did in our 20’s and 30’s. I have heard this repeatedly, but have gotten stuck on how and what modifications to make in order to be successful in training. The detail Dr. Sims provides is the most specific I have seen, (especially to combat hormonal changes) and seriously has me fired up.
I am not going to sugar coat it, running as a 48-year-old woman is so much more challenging than I expected. I knew I might slow down as I got older, but I honestly didn’t expect to feel such a struggle with the endurance of long runs or gains in training. To be honest, these struggles have intimated me to train hard. Part of that struggle has created an excuse not train, but part of that is negative self talk and feeling like I can’t compete. It’s easy to say, just change the attitude and get out there and do the hard work, but I am the type of person that needs to understand the why and not “just do it” because the latest article or fitness pro tells me to.
Taking the steps I have to better understand my body and what it might need to train, has given me a boost. I still need to work on my confidence with training, but at last I feel like I have some solid resources that resonate with me and make it feel ok to try. Next week I run the Santa Barbara Wine country half and then I want to spend my summer training for a trail 50k. For the first time in a long time I feel I have the knowledge I need to feel secure in at least trying for this big goal. I know a lot of you are probably wondering what this insightful info is, but to be honest I don’t want to misinterpret the guidance from the book. However, in two weeks I start a training regimen again, I will share weekly what I have done and what worked. I hope that that too will give you a bit of insight.
Seriously thought, if you haven’t already, get this book. I got it on Amazon for less than $10 and I swear it will be one of the best investments you make!
I am a masters runner. I repeat, I am a masters runner.
What's the big deal i thought, I have run for years, age is only a number right? Well not exactly. I can't speak for everyone, but as I get older my body is definitely responding differently to training. I have noticed it is so much harder to maintain my speed, and my strength and recovery doesn't come as easy in previous years. That can really screw with your mental game..and to be honest it has mine. However, I still have this yearning to hit some running goals. I still believe I can do this and understand training include modifications to my normal routine. Throughout the spring and summer I will share those with you.
In the past few weeks after hearing from other master runners, I have gathered a few new training ideas and resources to guide me. In May I am running the Santa Barbara Wine Country half marathon and then I would like to follow that up with a trail race (possibly a 22k) at the end of May. I had a hunch (or at least a hope) some of my performance issues could be tied to nutrition. I am not one for supplements, but I was curious if adding specific foods or vitamins could help in any way.
A few weeks back I mentioned I had gotten some blood work done to determine if there was anything I could add nutritionally to enhance my training. There are a few companies that offer athlete blood screens, and I chose to use the services of Athlete Blood Test. This company was referred to me by Oiselle, as some of the pros have used their services and seen great results from their recommendations. The process was very easy, you just go to the website, pick which testing option you would like to purchase (they vary depending on your training needs, or you can create your own). The company then provides you with a lab (or in my case numerous ones) that are nearby where you go to have your blood drawn. The blood is tested and the results sent back to the docs at Athlete Blood Test a few days later. In about a week, I received an email with my results and recommendations.
The test results are broken down into various categories, based on the testing option you choose. I chose the Gold Panel which includes tests for blood count, hydration levels, metabolic panel, micro nutrients status and training tolerance (which includes hormone testing) and a lipid panel. I know based on recent physicals my blood count levels and lipid panels would be fine and within range, but I was excited to find out about the other categories of testing. What I really liked about ABT’s type of testing, is the results were rated against the “normal range” and the “ideal range”. The normal range is the range most labs use based on the general population. The ideal range is the ranges ABT has calculated base on gender, age, and training.
How did my results break down? As I thought, overall I was pretty healthy and quite few of my results were in the normal and ABT ideal range. However, there were a few bio markers that were not.
For example, my Vitamin B12 and Folate levels were in the normal range, but were low according to ABT ideal ranges for me and my training needs.. Based on the feedback from ABT, these deficiencies could be causing the early stages of fatigue I am experiencing in my training. Another deficiency that was within the normal range, yet not high enough for my training needs was Vitamin D. As I expected by hormone levels were unbalanced as well…mainly testosterone. One thing I found very interesting is the correlation between Vitamin D levels and testosterone. ABT’s report explained low testosterone could be the source of my inability to maintain my strength levels and the DOMS after a hard strength or hill workout. It was recommended that by increasing my Vitamin D levels it will help adjust some of my testosterone, and could help with my recovery. The other thing to note, if I don’t raise my testosterone levels I have a higher risk of injury as I increase my training levels.
Based on the test results, the docs at ABT provided me with recommendations for supplements and additional nutrition needs to boost my performance and improve my training abilities. There was even a recommendation of a green smoothie each morning to boost my intake of veggies high in folate, see...easy as that.
Overall I really liked the product and test results I received from ABT, and felt it was well worth the cost. In my recent physical exams my doctors have struggled to find ways to advise on how improve my training as they consider a good majority of my blood levels in the normal range. ABT was able to give me the information I need to make modifications in order to achieve the performance I desire. My recommendations are very manageable. I have purchased the suggested supplemental vitamins (only 3 so not too bad) and will structure my diet to include more green veggies (and as my training increases, more iron) each day. They said it would take about 3 weeks to a month to start seeing a difference, and I will keep you all posted on my progress.
In order to better maintain my progress, and make sure I am holding myself accountable to my training, for my upcoming spring/summer races I will need to do more weekly meal prep and journal my workout results. These are two areas I have been seriously lacking this year, and tracking these new findings is just the motivation I need to get back to the grind. I have also been advised to not amp up my strength workouts too quickly in order to prevent injury. As much as I love strength training, slow and steady build up is the plan for now.
That’s all for now, there is a green smoothie to blend, veggies to roast for this week’s meal planning, and strength sessions to plan.
Sometimes running gets in the way of training, and it's just what you need. An ode to the SoCal Volée
I should have spent the past two weeks amping up my training in prep for an upcoming spring trail run. Guess what happened. Running got in the way…
A year ago after moving to LA I had lost my interest in running. I had spread myself to thin, trying to serve too many people, doing “all the things” but not listening to my own running needs. This created burnout and I took a break. I found running love again via trail running but as I reflect on the past two weeks I realized something else too, I have fallen back in love with being of service to the running community.
This month was the LA marathon. For those of you that know me, know I love marathons. I may be on a break from them right now, but my heart will always have a special place in it for this distance. My love is not actually about the race, it’s more about the journey it takes to get to the finish line. I love the challenge and structure of the training, I love the way my body evolves during the training season, and I even have a soft spot for the agony of defeat that always teaches me something. This is why I had to be a part of the LA marathon this year in one way or another.
As the LA marathon runners of the Oiselle Volée squad began increasing mileage for their upcoming race, I coordinated meet-ups in the hopes they could log the miles and share the journey with others. Each week I saw these runners bond, share stories, encourage each other and most importantly keep coming back for more. I heard many comments on how running with others, and knowing you weren’t alone in the madness of a marathon had made this training season a much more enjoyable experience.
Then came race day. We set up the Volée cheer station, and passed out cowbells to friends and family. As the morning went on, Volée members started showing up, not there to run but to support our team as they reached the hurting point of the race. One by one as the runners came by I heard the sounds of the marathon: the cheers and the clank of the cowbell. However, what caught my attention was the runners. Our Volée team lit up the course as they passed the cheer squad. This bad ass lady gang was all smiles; seriously every single gal looked fierce and strong as they flew by. I know there was pain, but what I saw in their eyes was a joy, a joy I could relate to. The joy that comes when you realized the journey of the last few months has brought you to this point. The joy of nearing the finishing line, knowing you’ve got this. That is what the marathon is all about!
Without even running this race that I love so, the Volée sent me home with a full heart.
Fast forward to this past Sunday. Back to my running, and I was scheduled to run the Hot Chocolate 15k in San Diego. Truth be told, while I had run a lot this winter, I hadn’t run a lot in the past couple weeks. I had spent alot of time preparing for marathon meet ups, and gave that a priority over time for my own training. I know this is slippery slope for me and I tried to be mindful to incorporate some sense of balance during those few weeks. After witnessing the power of running at the LA marathon and receiving so much gratitude from the LA Volée I honestly had no animosity of not making time for my training. I had gotten back my joy in helping others reach their goal and that was more valuable to me than training runs.
When I stepped up to the start line of the Hot Chocolate 15k with a few of the San Diego Volée team I had a feeling this hilly course could be a bit of a struggle. The weather was perfect, I felt great, but I knew I didn’t have enough training in to hit a good race time. Just as the negative thoughts started to enter my mind, Natalie (the other SoCal Volée leader and an all-around amazing person) suggested our group of three take this race slow and make it a fun run. We ran at a comfortable pace, walked the hills and stopped at every single sweet station (because who doesn’t love marshmallows and chocolate when running). We laughed, told stories and had the best time. It had been a long time since I had ran a race, where I wasn’t taking myself so seriously. Instead of struggling to hit a time, I noticed the beautiful scenery of San Deigo’s Balboa park, took pictures of the blooming flowers, high-fived the aid station volunteers and fed my soul with the time spent with my team.
I know I will not run races in that manner very often, because as a goal oriented runner, I need to meet running goals to drive me forward. Being a part of the SoCal Oiselle Volée compares to no other run crew I have ever been part of. The support, the love, the gratitude is always there from another runner just when you need it the most. As I crossed the finish line Sunday, I was again reminded that sometimes running gets in the way of training but sometimes that is exactly what I need.
The last 7 days have been amazing. From the responses I received from last week’s post, to cowbelling (both in real time and virtually) for the badass #Birdstrike team, to meeting up with an old and new friend for a hike. I have been inspired, uplifted and definitely ready to get trail running.
In last week’s blog I shared my thoughts with you on my struggles with training as a masters runner. I was pleasantly surprised with the responses I received from others in the same boat. It’s funny how my internet research left me answer less, but hearing from others (who too wish there were more discussion on this topic) has given me support and a few options to try.
However there was a common thread in my conversations with others, beating ourselves up for not living to our expectations, specifically as a masters runner. So many comments questioning abilities and struggles; judging performance (or lack thereof). It’s honestly like being a teenager all over again, struggling to understand how to adjust to life’s physical changes on our bodies. While there is definitely truth in the importance of eating right, and dedicated training to achieve goals, there is also the emotional side of training which we rarely talk about. I too find myself struggling at times with negative image and negative self-talk.
How am I working though this? For me, it’s Yoga.
For the record, I am not one of those runners who embraced yoga into my life. I actually fought it for many years, the poses, the time, the slowing down. I honestly didn’t understand the benefit it would bring to my training. I saw yoga as a way to stretch and keep the joints loose. It doesn’t help that I was under the mindset, if you weren’t pushing yourself to fatigue it wasn’t a true workout.
The reality is I didn’t think I was “good” at yoga. The yogis, the poses, the essential oils intimidated me. I would go to a class, and get frustrated by more experienced people in my class, I would get antsy sitting in a pose too long, I didn’t know the proper form and was too embarrassed to ask for help.
Then life changed. Not long after I moved to Los Angeles, I had a mini breakup with running. I began going through a bit of internal angst, as I had always identified as a runner. I felt my mind constantly racing, searching for something to fill the void and keep me moving. I couldn’t focus on anything specific, just scrolling through social media, listening to every podcast I could and even attempted to bake a few items (that one definitely didn’t got to well).
Here I was in LA, where there is a yoga studio on practically every street corner, but I was still fighting it a bit. Then I listed to this podcast with Julia Hanlon and Rebecca Pacheco and began to think maybe yoga wasn’t so bad after all. I tried a class or two, but still wasn’t convinced. It was when I picked up Rebecca’s book and seriously, it all changed, I began to understand that yoga wasn’t only about working out, or stretching sore muscles, it was also about learning how to be present. This book helped me understand how to break down the poses, the reasons, and the rationale behind yoga and soon realized this was exactly the mental love and strength I needed in my life.
It took me a bit of trial and error, but I have found a studio that works for me. I went to studios where everything sparkles and the music is pumping, but I felt old and out of place. I went to a few outdoor sessions but found myself getting to distracted, I even tried a candlelight session but the oils and chants were a bit much. (I also tried a few online yoga programs, but I prefer the guidance of an in-person instructor) It was when I tried a local small studio; I finally found a good fit. I found a place where the participants were age diverse, and more importantly the common thread among the teachers was the self-talk lesson during session. Each class I attended I noticed the teachers would calmly work to bring your thoughts back to your own practice, your own poses and diminish the need to look around the room to others for comparison. I found this so refreshing. I began feeling stronger in my poses, even when I fell, or didnt have the proper form. I slowly began to recognize when negative self-talk thoughts would creep up on me in class and am working toward diminishing them.
As I process some of the physical challenges I am facing with my running lately, I catch myself judging my speed, my need for more sleep and especially the muscles that get so sore after a moderate weight training session. This is something I rarely have dealt with in my running life, but lately I find myself making excuses and beating myself up for my struggles. When I put out my blog last week, I honestly didn’t expect to find out others were dealing with that too. At first, it was a bit of a relief, but then I got a little mad.
Why as women over the age of 40, trying to maintain our athletic abilities are we struggling with this type of self-talk? Maybe it was because we aren’t talking about it. We hide our feelings, not wanting to be judged. Through my yoga sessions, I am learning to recognize those thoughts and then I can push them aside. I have a long way to go, but it’s a start.
I can’t speak for others, but for me it meant a lot to know I’m not alone in these fitness struggles. My hope is we can keep the positive conversations going, in an effort to quiet that negative voice when it creeps into our head. I know this doesn’t answer the questions on how to train and perform, but at least it helps to not feel isolated and defeated.
Trail running training is starting up for me again. This is my last week of base building and next week I start a full-fledged training plan. While I can’t wait to hit the trails I am so badly craving to run on, I have one step I want
to take before I dive into a plan. I have decided to get some blood tests/panel done with recommendations on ways to enhance my performance via nutrition and supplements. I go in for my testing later this week, so stay tuned and I will share my experience.
My spring race schedule in the coming months includes:
Hot Chocolate 15k San Diego
Pasadena Trail Run 5 mile
Santa Barbara Wine Country Half
Xterra Malibu Creek 22k
I hope you will follow along as I share my journey. If you are an Oiselle Volée member, join the conversation on the Ning Masters page, I would love to hear your thoughts and share ideas. If you aren’t then comment below. Let’s keep talking, motivating and helping others reach our goals
I don’t talk about this often, but its time I face the facts. I’m 46 years old. My mind thinks my body still functions the same, uses fuel the same way, and maintains fitness the same as my 30-year-old self. However, truth be told, for the past year or so, my body says something different.
I run slower.
I have a harder time maintaining muscle.
Even though I maintain the same clean diet, I tend to gain a few pounds a bit easier than before.
I have cellulite
My blood pressure regulates my body temperature differently
Here is the thing, this is kind of freaking me out. I don’t want to lose the strength gains I have made over the years, and I’m not ok with getting slower on my runs. I get frustrated with my body reacting this way. Yes, I realize it’s part of life, but it sucks.
In all honesty, when I see other runners my age, still looking strong and meeting racing goals I get a little envious. Not in a way where I am jealous of their accomplishments, but I become less confident of my own. Funny thing..I consider myself a pretty confident gal, but understanding myself and my abilities as a masters runner is a new challenge to overcome.
Since I struggled with how to accept these changes, I wasn't comfortable speaking to others about it. So, I did what others do. I searched the interwebs hoping to find the motivation and tips I need from other masters runners…but no luck?!?! Yes, there are general comments about how to run while your body changes with age, or how to incorporate fitness and/or running at later stages of life. Funny though, no discussion, no details on how to make adjustments (both physically and mentally) to training as a female athlete over the age of 45.
So now what? Give up running…hahahaha as if that would happen. I still have goals. I realize I may have to train a little more creatively, mix up my nutrition to make sure I give my “new” body the type of fuel it needs, rest and recover a bit more, and maybe even adjust my goals to a new type of challenge.
When I am on the trails, climbing peaks and running the ridges my goal is to feel strong. Strong enough to reach heights and run the miles it takes to accomplish goals. I am a goal oriented person, I plan my seasons around what running goals I can meet and train in order to accomplish them. The work to get there isn’t always pretty, glamorous or what “athletes” may be perceived to look like. The outward appearance doesn’t matter to me, what does is the accomplishment of completing the task I set out to do, and putting in the work that allows me to enjoy the experience.
This training season will no doubt require quite a bit of learning; possibly working a bit harder, in more creative ways, accepting new methods of training (such as more strength/mobility work, more specific nutrition and weekly yoga to work the mind.) Not only do I seek to find the answers to my questions on being a female masters runner, but to share those ideas with others, in hopes that others come out of the shadows into their running ability.
I don’t have all the answers on how I will do this just yet, but I do I have a secret weapon…My powersuit. Sally Bergesen wrote an enlightening blog post and gave a beautiful talk at the Muse Women’s Conference this past weekend. Her talk discussed how apparel can give us the mental edge.
When I am out on the trails, I bring the gear I need to get me through the day, this includes fuel, hydration, even a buff to wipe away the salty sweat. More importantly I wear clothes and sometimes my Oiselle singlet that empower me. They don’t empower me to create an appearance, they empower me with their ability to function, their ability to breathe, allowing me the space to do the work. I have no doubt when I put on my power suit I can make it through a training day, one step closer to the finish line.
I hope you stick around for the ride as I find new ways to Run Fierce and Live Fit.