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Discussion Starter #1
Strength Training as "Base Building" for the older runner (rather than mileage)?

I'm sure anyone over 40 that enjoys sport or an active life has researched how to stay fit and active well into old age. I know I have!! And probably most are aware that research shows that strength training and high intensity workouts are the best way for the older athlete to stay young - easily functioning as if they were decades younger with the right training.

Here's a typical article for anyone that hasn't read up on this subject:

http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/exercise-the-primary-driver-for-reversing-age-related-functional-decline

What are the implications of this for distance runners (assuming you want to follow the advice)?

If the foundation of your training is strength work (which requires adequate recovery), how would you structure it all, and how would you decide how much of each activity?

I'm thinking a couple of weights workouts a week is needed (one upper body, one lower body). These require a reasonable rest before and after - or at least, the lower body workout does.

At least two speed sessions a week simply because you get more bang for your buck and with weight training there's a limit to how much mileage you can do. So, perhaps intervals one day, hill sprints another.

Cross training is vital (in my opinion) as you need to get the joints moving in all ways. So I figured a circuit class/gym ball circuits would be great as that would focus on core stability. Also cross training as warmups for strength workouts.

Which gives me:

MONDAY: 20 mins xtrain / Upper body weights workout / Physio / core work
TUESDAY: Speed workout (8k total including warmup/cooldown)
WEDNESDAY: 10k easy run with small bursts of speed/running drills
THURSDAY: Speed workout (8k total including warmup/cooldown)
FRIDAY: Rest
SATURDAY: 20 mins xtrain / Lower body weights workout / Physio / core work
SUNDAY: 20 mins xtrain / circuits class / physio

I also walk around 25 miles a week with the dogs. But all I can fit in (without sacrificing other important stuff) is about 15 miles per week of running. Which is fine - it seems to be working.

Just wondered what others do and how you juggle all the different activities/elements?
 

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I'm sure anyone over 40 that enjoys sport or an active life has researched how to stay fit and active well into old age. I know I have!! And probably most are aware that research shows that strength training and high intensity workouts are the best way for the older athlete to stay young - easily functioning as if they were decades younger with the right training.
there is so much wrong with that first statement.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
In what sense?

That it makes you uncomfortable because you don't enjoy that kind of training so prefer not to believe it?

That you disagree with the research?

That you think I'm misrepresenting the research?

Or you think I'm wrong that most over 40's that enjoy sport or active life have researched the subject?

Tell me what you think is wrong and I'll try and dig up references to reassure you (or learn from you if I am indeed wrong!)
 

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In what sense?

That it makes you uncomfortable because you don't enjoy that kind of training so prefer not to believe it?

I enjoy all sorts of training from 20 x400m with 45seconds recovery to 26 mile training runs, but thanks for your concern.

That you disagree with the research?

Research is exactly that, it's not fact

That you think I'm misrepresenting the research?

You put a spin on every bit of research that suits your agenda, you may not think you have an agenda but I can assure you your posts come across as though you have one.

Or you think I'm wrong that most over 40's that enjoy sport or active life have researched the subject?

I think you're wrong when you say they can feel decades younger, "decades", is at least 20 years therefore you're suggesting a 41 year old can feel under 21 years old from some strength training and some high intensity training, ignoring the fact that this training will make them more prone to injury (as will their age)

Tell me what you think is wrong and I'll try and dig up references to reassure you (or learn from you if I am indeed wrong!)
I don't need any reassurance from you or from any articles to prove me right or wrong.
 

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I'm sure anyone over 40 that enjoys sport or an active life has researched how to stay fit and active well into old age. I know I have!!
Actually, I haven't. Apart from an occasional bit of core work, all I do is RUN (which is why I subscribe to RUNNER'S FORUM) and so far as I'm concerned running is the most natural and beneficial form of exercise known to man.
Mind you, for people who THINK they're getting old, weight training and high intensity workouts might be of some benefit! I haven't got to that stage yet.
 

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Actually, I haven't. Apart from an occasional bit of core work, all I do is RUN (which is why I subscribe to RUNNER'S FORUM) and so far as I'm concerned running is the most natural and beneficial form of exercise known to man.
Mind you, for people who THINK they're getting old, weight training and high intensity workouts might be of some benefit! I haven't got to that stage yet.
I'm going with what Gordon says.. proof is in the pudding there..
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yes, I agree that research is just that - research.

I have an agenda in the sense that I value discussion about specific things that I'm interested in - things that I think can help me with my training. I see no point in dropping into discussions that don't interest me just to say "I think that's rubbish" or suchlike. I focus on what I do find interesting.

I think you're wrong when you say they can feel decades younger, "decades", is at least 20 years therefore you're suggesting a 41 year old can feel under 21 years old from some strength training and some high intensity training, ignoring the fact that this training will make them more prone to injury (as will their age)
41 isn't really that old. If I remember correctly, muscle loss starts in the mid twenties (if you don't do anything to prevent it). At this stage the loss is very slow. By 41 someone that has never strength trained (either with weights or through work, sport) will have lower muscle mass than his 25 year old self (and this will affect performance accordingly). But essentially only 16 years of slowish loss of muscle mass.

Move on 30 years. Loss of muscle mass would have accelerated through his 50's and at 60 he'd really start losing muscle fast. By 71 the man that has never strength trained has significantly less muscle mass than he did at age 25.

So, the question is, does it matter that the 71 year old has significantly less muscle mass than he did at 25? Does it have any bearing on health, physical ability, athletic ability, resistance to injury, ability to handle his own body weight?

Research suggests that the answer to this question is a big YES (Although whether it has a bearing on quality of life is entirely specific to the individual - some are happy to be less active, others thrive on always pushing things to the limit).

Research also suggests that in most people age related muscle loss is largely avoidable and even reversible. In other words, lots of the 'problems' we put down to aging are avoidable.

You say it's 'fact' that high intensity training and strength training will make older people more prone to injury. Plenty of people prove you wrong on a daily basis! I think it's popular opinion rather than fact.

Research indicates that the reason most older people are more prone to injury when they do anything demanding is largely BECAUSE of loss of muscle mass. If you do nothing to prevent age related decline in muscle mass and then at age 50 try to do what you did at age 25 you will most probably get injured. But if you always work within your capabilities when strength or HI training then it's quite possible that you will be capable of more at age 70 than you did at age 25. It really comes down to how close to your potential you were at age 25. Research shows that you can't completely hold back age related muscle loss, but that the majority of it can be prevented through strength training.

Does anyone know of any other methods (other than strength training) to prevent age related muscle loss?

Muscle mass is only one part of the puzzle when it comes to preventing age related decline.

Can I reiterate that I'm not trying to 'sell' the idea to anyone. There is no need to defend your position if you choose not to take on board the research findings - I'm not implying that you are wrong. I was really hoping to hear from people that ARE interested in taking on board research findings so we could discuss how best to weave it into our training?
 

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Does anyone know of any other methods (other than strength training) to prevent age related muscle loss??
Well, it's my doddering opinion that RUNNING prevents age related muscle loss. Running exercises and tones most of the muscles in our body including the big important one - the heart. And at my time of life that big important one wouldn't thank me for throwing weights about.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
That depends upon how fast you run. Or more specifically, how much intensity you run at.

Fast twitch muscle fibers are responsible for speed, strength and muscle bulk. Slow twitch muscle fibers are responsible for sustained exercise such as walking and easy/moderate paced running.

Sadly it's fast twitch muscle fibers that we loose as we age.

Running at moderate speeds (low intensity) never stimulates the fast twitch fibers so sadly it can't help with building muscle bulk or preventing age related muscle loss.

This is why the researchers recommend that older athletes (or even non-athletes) incorporate more high intensity exercise and strength training. This is the kind of activity that stimulates fast twitch muscle fibers and thus prevents or even reverses the effects of age related muscle loss (largely - research suggests that it's not 100% avoidable).

But sure, research shows there are lots of benefits to moderate running. Someone that runs slowly - or even walks regularly will be better off than someone that does nothing at all. But if you want to maintain muscle mass and all the benefits associated with that it takes a little more.

EDIT:

That said, science tends to look at what holds true for 'most people' or 'average people'. In recent years it's been discovered that some people are 'non-responders' when it comes to weight loss through exercise, strength training, aerobic training and so on. As many as 20% of the population when it comes to improving aerobic fitness. It's not a great leap to conclude that some people might be able to maintain muscle mass through low intensity training. It's not the norm tho' - you just have to look at most veteran runners to see that running hasn't prevented muscle loss.

If you feel that you have got similar muscle mass as you had in your 20's despite only low intensity running then I do believe you!

I also sympathise with the feeling that in your 70's isn't the time to be hitting the gym for the first time (assuming you wanted to, which you don't!). This is why I'm trying to establish these training regimes in my 40's!! (Actually, I started thinking about age-proofing in my 30's, but not in relation to running).
 

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My training regime these days is much the same as it was when I was in my 20s, a mix og LSRs, tempo runs and speed sessions. I never saw the need to cross train then and still do not.
I don't suffer with any more injuries than I did back then and I can still beat a lot of athletes 20 to 30 years younger than me. Best of all I enjoy what I am doing when training or racing, I would not enjoy weights, swimming or any other type of training, but that's me :d

For every bit of research that says one thing is good for you another says it's bad for you and you should do something else.
 

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I first read about age and muscle loss about forty years ago. If I remember well It was found that different muscle groups lose strength at different rates with the back muscles losing it the most which probable explained why older people including myself complain of backache.

SusanW in your post you mentioned losing muscle fast at the age of 60 I've got fist hand experience of this! It was one of the things that got me back into running. Changing the oil in my car or doing DIY was becoming painful and when I started running I was shocked at how little I could do I had lost the thigh muscles I used to have.

The only other method to prevent age related muscle loss (sarcopenia) I can think of is using anabolic steroids :d
Staying active as you get older is possibly good enough I go to the local rock'n'roll clubs and some of the older ones can really jive well, they learnt it the first time round in the 1950's

Another big change is the time it takes to recover from a training session, weights or running I could't do half the amount of training your doing.

Not sure that strength training could replace mileage but it seem that fast running gives me better results. I'm doing core exercises if I stop I find the sciatica I had when I started running comes back. Also doing a certain amount of upper body stuff but this is mainly for handling a heavy weight cruiser motorcycle.

I am making progress but I often wonder how much I've lost out by being unfit for so long.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Frank, that's exactly the difficulty I'm having - trying to fit everything in!!

This:

MONDAY: 20 mins xtrain / Upper body weights workout / Physio / core work
TUESDAY: Speed workout (8k total including warmup/cooldown)
WEDNESDAY: 10k easy run with small bursts of speed/running drills
THURSDAY: Speed workout (8k total including warmup/cooldown)
FRIDAY: Rest
SATURDAY: 20 mins xtrain / Lower body weights workout / Physio / core work
SUNDAY: 20 mins xtrain / circuits class / physio

I also walk around 25 miles a week with the dogs. But all I can fit in (without sacrificing other important stuff) is about 15 miles per week of running. Which is fine - it seems to be working.
...is what I think I can realistically achieve, but at this point I'm struggling. For long term progress (and because if I'm finding it hard at 48 I know it'll be even harder at 60) I don't want to drop the lower body strength workout. It's the deadlifts that are doing so much good but they take a good few days to recover from which impacts on the running. But, I know from experience (used to do powerlifting) that recovery gets quicker when you get used to it. So, I'm tentatively working towards the above - managing most of it but having to miss the odd session or shorten some runs.

This is OK for me. Most of my adult life I enjoyed weight lifting, high intensity training - it would be my choice even if it weren't good for me. The above is for me an enjoyable training program. We have lots of breaks away in the mountains hill walking and running with the dogs so that breaks things up and adds variety.

But yes, recovery is the tricky bit. I've put my three running days together because I'm finding that if I train-rest-train-rest I'm not 100% recovered by the time of the next run. However, if I do three in a row (with an easier run separating two tough runs) then have a nice long rest from running it seems to work better.

Dancing, biking ... all good stuff I think. Another key things seems to be to 'move the joints every way, every day'. Not enough total body movement in my program probably.

At 48 I'm thinking now's the time to get in and tackle this. Once you break the back of it I'm sure it gets much easier. But the longer you leave it the harder it's going to be. The research is all based on men. No research on women. But I have to think about guarding against osteoporosis too - another big reason for tackling weight training now rather than later.
 

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Weight training is the governments advice is twice a week so this is what I would recommend in a general fitness plan.

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/physical-activity-guidelines-for-adults.aspx

Weight training also has a low incidence of injury and if you are persistent you do definitely see benefits months down the line.

Interval work has a higher rate of injury so I personally would not recommend excessive amounts of it. Once a week is probably ideal.

It is important to allow sufficient rest when developing your training programme but yes I agree that a mixture of activities is the best for general fitness.

Endurance work and weight training in combination seems to work very well for me. You get considerable benefits from both.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for posting that link - I hadn't realised that the government now included 2 days weight training for all adults as part of the basic fitness requirements. (Until recently I'd thought they were still saying 20 mins 3 times a week)

It reassures me that I'm on the right track and just need to hang in until my body adapts to it all.

Any thoughts on flexibility anyone? That's another thing that tends to go as we age. I know the cause of my stiffness is muscle imbalances and the strength training *should* put that right. But has any one noticed any difference in what works best for flexibility when you're older? Static stretching tends not to work as well for me nowadays - is that typical when you get older or just down to my specific hip problem? I'm finding range of motion exercises more effective.
 

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This is what I do:

Monday - Rest
Tuesday - Run with a group - generally about 6 ish fast ish
Wednesday - 25 - 30 mins on spinning bike mainly fairly intense intervals
Thursday - Intervals or hill work - currently running home from work on this day so this dictates the distance (just under 6)
Friday - either yoga, pilates or depending on how much energy I have a Jillian Michaels dvd
Saturday - 15 mins on spinning bike - a bit gentler than Wednesdays session, followed by 3 - 4 miles running generally off road/easyish
Sunday - Long slow run -either 9-11 miles , a mixture off on and off road or a slightly shorter faster run with club - I would probably categorise the latter as a 'slow steady run'.

Also currently doing 3 x 12 press ups on 5 days a week (and increasing by one on each set a week)

So no weight training or anything (apart from the press ups) that I think of as strength work. I used to go to a gym on one day a week and incorporate some running (to and from the gym and some on the treadmill) in this but at £5 a time couldn't really justify the cost when I can run outside for nothing!

Touch wood fingers crossed what I am doing at the moment seems to suit me (as in I enjoy it, am not injured and seem to have reversed my declining speed). (Any suggestions on how I could fine tune it, however, would be welcome!)

Any thoughts on flexibility anyone? That's another thing that tends to go as we age. I know the cause of my stiffness is muscle imbalances and the strength training *should* put that right. But has any one noticed any difference in what works best for flexibility when you're older? Static stretching tends not to work as well for me nowadays - is that typical when you get older or just down to my specific hip problem? I'm finding range of motion exercises more effective.
I have always been quite flexible but have noticed that this is decreasing as I've got older. I tend to rely on the yoga and pilates mentioned above for stretching and think this definitely helps with my (sometimes very temperamental) back. I also think that its important to supplement running with other types of activity. (I'm just speaking for myself here based on what seems to work for me - if I do nothing but run I seem to suffer from all sorts of aches and niggles).
 

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I always thought that fast twitch muscles were used by sprinters and that as a distance runner you never used them, except perhaps if you needed to sprint at the end of a race.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I always thought that fast twitch muscles were used by sprinters and that as a distance runner you never used them, except perhaps if you needed to sprint at the end of a race.
That's sort of true. But you get two types of fast twitch fiber - one type is fueled by oxygen the other by glycogen. The glycogen fueled fibers are the ones that produce high speed and power - and they tire very quickly. The oxygen fueled fast twitch fibers have less staying power than slow twitch, but they produce more power (and speed). So, for 5k and a lesser extent 10k oxygen fueled fast twitch fibers are used heavily.

I believe that in a marathon fast twitch fibers are used to a degree. For example, when the slow twitch fibers tire towards the end of the race the oxygen fueled fast twitch fibers can kick in to keep you going (assuming that you've trained them to do so). Also they can help on hills, sprint finishes etc.

But this is the point really. If all you do is run at a moderate pace (long runs) you'll never stimulate fast twitch fibers and therefore you are doing nothing to prevent age related muscle loss. It's the fast twitch fibers that are responsible for strength, speed and muscle size.

Probably the reason that so many older runners switch to longer distances races is because slow twitch fibers aren't lost with age. They can stay competitive for longer (than they can at 5k, 10k, sprint distance).

So does it matter that you end up with very few fast twitch fibers if all you want to do is run marathons?

Well, it's not ideal for health. If you have reduced muscle your metabolism is lower so you'll require fewer calories just to maintain your body. Percentage of body fat is likely to go up. You'll find that you simply won't be able to move fast or lift heavy objects because you no longer have the muscle fibers needed to do it. Strength and speed training (recruiting fast twitch fibers) results in significantly increased production of testosterone and growth hormone. These things help in so many ways - for both men and women. They're considered youth hormones.

Compare the physique of the typical twenty something distance runner and the seventy something runner. Normally there is a huge difference in posture...and form. Do you think the young man's more muscular physique helps him to run faster/with fewer injuries than the old man?

Another thing to consider as well as loss of fast twitch fibers is the detraining effect on slow twitch fibers. When you're young your body wants to grow stronger whether you do any exercise or not. It's hormone driven. As you get older, fast twitch fiber will actually be lost (unless you exercise them). But also, slow twitch fibers will become weak and inactive unless you work them. Running distances keeps your slow twitch muscle fibers in good shape, but only the ones actively used in running. The muscles that aren't used will weaken and shrivel. The end result is a poorly balanced, injury prone body....the typical stooped older runner with poor posture and dodgy biomechanics. Glute atrophy is very common in distance runners. The glutes are the very foundation that your body rests upon. Weak, inactive glutes invariably means problems and seriously compromised physical ability....although you might still be able to run well for a long, long time.

Most of us have a 50-50 split of fast and slow twitch fibers. But some have perhaps 80% slow twitch. Others 80% fast twitch. My guess is the people that hate speed and strength training with a passion are probably mostly slow twitch fibers. Do these people deteriorate more quickly with age? Or maybe because they're designed to thrive on slow twitch muscles only they cope better? Without a doubt, some people do seem to get away with things that most don't.
 

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5 days a week running 2 days core to strengthen the abdominals and back does me.
 
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