When I was in my mid-30s, I started looking for "signs of age". When would I wake up and start feeling creaky? Or, when would my speed and power in workouts clearly start to nosedive? When would my racing clearly be a step or two behind what I used to be able to do? Well, guess what? I'm not there yet. Despite working full-time and having two teenagers, and despite all the stressors in Life I'm hit with on a daily basis, I'm not slowing down. Not yet.
That said, what I cannot do is train the way I used to, with abandon. I don't recover quite the way I used to, and so I have to be more intelligent with what I do day in/day out, week in/week out. What I have recommitted myself to – and what I think are THE key components to Masters athletes extending their longevity – is nearly year round strength training and daily stretching. The biggest problem with Masters athletes is that the older we get, the more critical it is for us to remain strong and supple. We do lose muscle mass as we age beyond the age of 40 (or so) because our bodies don't produce hormones like testosterone and HGH like they used to; it is critical to throw some iron around to minimize and even halt that process. As we age, our joints and connective tissue compress and become more brittle. Stretching and receiving body work such as massage and chiropractic adjustment go a long way to allowing the body to freely move through a full range of motion without impingement.
Strength and mobility bring with them great benefits. For example, running faster is about stride rate and stride length. The faster the stride rate and the longer the stride length, the faster you run. By remaining strong and flexible, you ensure neither aspect of running faster gets negatively impacted. This is critical to maintaining speed on your feet and can be applied to cycling, swimming or whichever sport you practice.
If you're a Masters athlete and find yourself frustrated with you lack of progress or receding abilities - or if your coach is training you as if you were in your 20s or 30s, which is not optimal - drop me a line through the website. I would be more than happy to let you bend my ear and see what perspective I'm able to offer. All you need to do is ask. Let's avoid the definition of insanity, which is doing the same stuff over and over and over again, yet expecting different results. Maybe it's time for some fresh perspective which will yield different, more positive results.