One of the best things about running is that just about anyone can participate. Runners of all shapes, sizes and ages line up for races every weekend, striving for personal betterment. Distance running holds the distinction of being a sport for all ages, from the very young to the very old.
Speaking of getting older, 2014 Boston marathon winner Meb Keflezighi was just a few weeks shy of his 39th birthday. In September, Deena Kastor, 41, broke five masters world records en route to her record half-marathon time of 1:09:36, a stellar time for an athlete of any age. Fauja Singh, a British man born in 1911, completed the 2012 London Marathon.
Athletes all over the world are proving that age is just a number and that the human body is capable of performing astounding feats well into middle age and beyond. Distance running yields a great return for the work you put into it and, although not everyone is born with the genetics necessary to produce world-class times, personal improvement is a great reflection of a runner's desire and dedication.
Age vs. Running Age
The concept of "running age" is one that should not be overlooked by aging athletes. Once a runner begins to train seriously, he or she can expect to improve for about 10 to 14 years before reaching a plateau in performance.
This means that if you begin to train seriously at a reasonable age, you can expect to see improvements in your running times for at least a decade. As the human body ages, it naturally slows down, so although you may not be getting "faster" if you begin running in your senior years, you will still be getting "better." This is where the concept of age-grading becomes a real benefit to older runners.