Running into Late Middle Age with Five Nutrition for Athletes Tips April 04 2016, 0 Comments

As we get older, training and nutrition for athletes becomes a mix of art and science as we try to find the right combination for our changing bodies.  Photo Source:  physioworkshsv.com                                             

More and more, people are staying active later into life and there are many beneficial health reasons for continuing to hit the trail.  A Stanford University study suggests that running seniors experience heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, some cancers, and neurological ailments 16 years later than their non-running counterparts. As a group, older runners experience better mobility, coordination, weight control, bone density, muscle strength, and psychological well-being.  This is a great trend, but poses some challenges when modifying diet and training to match how the body is changing with age.  First, as an older athlete, you have to fuel your body differently from when you were young.  Next, pay more attention to how you train, and more importantly, how you rest.  Consider these five tips as you run your way into a healthy middle age.

 

Watch Out for Radicals

The aging process is partly caused by free radical damage to the body tissues. Consider a diet that contains lots of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables to help slow the aging process and its negative effects on performance. Research out of UCLA found that antioxidant supplements can also provide additional benefits.  The researchers found that three weeks of antioxidant supplements produced a 16 percent increase in the anaerobic threshold of cyclists over the age of 50.

 

Recover Your Way to Better Performance

When we were young we could do back-to-back hard workouts and our bodies would somehow recover magically overnight.  Not so now that we are more mature.  The older we get, the more susceptible we are to muscle damage caused by eccentric muscle contractions – think muscle contractions where the muscle lengthens as it contracts.  While we are more likely to experience this muscle damage, our older bodies are not able to repair the damage as quickly between runs. A balanced diet along with the right post workout nutrition for athletes will help you recover and be ready for your next workout.  Look for post workout foods that are the right mix of all natural ingredients, carbohydrates, and electrolytes.  Experts say add a 4:1 mix of protein to boost your post workout recovery. 

The right nutrition for athletes that run in senior or master’s races is critical to maintain performance in the golden years.  Photo Source:  runhaven.com

 

Sometimes it is About the Shoes, Shorts, and/or the Sports Bra

As we get older our bodies shift in unexpected ways.  Our feet show the wear and tear of our active lifestyle and the rest of the body seems to soften around the edges.  While we may have grown up with Chuck Taylor All-Stars and gym shorts, it is time to upgrade.  Consider going to a specialty running shop to get fitted for the right shoes and latest apparel. Try one of the newer cushioned shoes and see how it feels.  Your body is already taking a pounding on the trail and bouncing more than it used to, show the wisdom of age by mitigating these effects with good gear and enjoy the ride in comfort.

 

Improve Performance Through Balanced Workouts

Running can be a very jarring sport, and as we get older we need to find ways to vary our workout to maintain fitness, strength, and flexibility while limiting the pounding to our run workouts.  As runners we can tend to get stagnant with our workouts, think of this as a chance to liberate yourself and try new things.  Consider yoga for strength, balance, flexibility, and connective tissue health.  Swimming is a great cardiovascular workout with none of the pounding of running.  Weightlifting a few times a week is highly recommended for aging adults, especially for runners to maintain the leg strength for efficient strides.  Lastly, try activities you enjoy and can be done with a companion; biking and hiking are great options.

Balanced workouts and rest will keep you happy on the trail while increasing performance. Photo Source: longevity.about.com

 

Recover Like Your Race Depends on it – Because it does

As a runner, your rest days are just as important as your training days.  This is even more important was we age.  Try planning your rest days with as much devotion as you plan your training days, and don’t cheat on your rest day with other activities.  Don’t do yard work, or clean the garage, just rest.  Consider social events that don’t require a lot of exertion on off days and try stimulating the mind while resting the body.  Lastly, and most importantly, get enough good sleep.