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Organization: Pro Ortho
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Kirkland WA

Runners May Not Hit Stride Until 50 Years Old


Unusual low angle back view of a group of friends jogging outdoors on a summer afternoon with sun flareFor those who always struggled with running or were never able to commit to a consistent running routine, it
turns out your best running days might still be ahead of you.
New research reveals that recreational runners might not peak until they’re 50, compared to elite runners, whose performance starts to decline when they hit 35.

The study, summarized in the Washington Post, examined 16 years of data from the Chicago, New York, and Boston marathons. While the fastest runners, both male and female, are between 25 and 34, those who ran competitively started to lag after 35.

This is partly because when we turn 35, our muscle mass, bone density, and maximal aerobic capacity starts to decrease. In turn, we are less able to sustain high-intensity exercise and the amount we spend training might start to diminish, if we trained at all. 

Elite runners, however, continue at an intense rate, drawing on their reserve energy at a much faster rate. Recreational runners, however, have more endurance because they’ve never pushed themselves as hard. 

The scientists view the recreational runner’s tendency to veer away from training that’s too difficult or intense as a boon. Since his or her physiological limits haven’t been tested, his or her fitness level can be cultivated for the next ten years, helping negate the impacts of aging. 

However, older recreational runners should remember they’re no longer in their twenties and they shouldn’t run like they are. Interval training helps cultivate endurance and speed, a more effective combination than running the same distance at the same speed. The benefits of recovery should also not be overlooked, especially as we age and the body needs rest to restore and protect against injury. If you’ve struggled with joint pain or an orthopedic issue, it may be best to consult with an orthopedic surgeon before beginning a training regime.

From reducing anxiety to preventing obesity, stroke, and some types of cancer, the benefits of running make it a worthwhile pursuit to pick up, whether you’re 25 or 45. 

Is joint pain impacting your ability to lead a healthy life? Contact Dr. Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, today. An expert in knee surgery and hip replacement, he can help combat pain and return you to an active lifestyle. 

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