Good and informative thread. I'm about to hit my midlife running crisis too :-( Glad to also see a few other ladies in here. I turn 40 at the end of the year- am I looking forward to it-F$#K NO! Getting old and grey sucks and there is no sugar coating it. Personally, I plan to keep racing until I begin to slide into the abyss and my times go to hell in a handbasket. Despite having been seriously running/racing since college, most of my PRs have come in my late 30s. My 50 and 100k are still getting better, but those are now my primary events. Last month, I was in a position to possibly go after a marathon PR, but that got f#cked up when I had the sh!t luck of getting bronchial pneumonia FIVE DAYS BEFORE THE RACE. I have never been knocked out of an A race from being sick and never been as sick in my life as I have been this last month.
Recovery wise- I sometimes need an extra day to recover between hard workouts and or long runs,but I train differently now from what I did in my 20s. I may have also needed the extra day 10 yrs ago as well had I been doing more long interval workouts like I do now. At 35, I moved into the 100k when I got offered a spot on the national team after winning quite a few other distance races in my country. My coach had planned to have me try the 100k 6 months later, but this acclelerated the process. I do more long interval and tempo workouts now than I did in my 20s. I do repeat 5000s, down ladders like 5,4,3,2,1000 done with progressively picking up the pace. I do 10,15,20k or so tempo runs, 30-40k progression runs . After that kind of thing, I need a good 3 sometimes 4 easy days in between. I take the easy days easy the hard ones hard. I like to do half marathons for speedwork. I can do them a week apart all out, but then I just go realllllly easy between them. I actually got into damn good shape this spring doing the halves leading up to what was supposed to be a marathon. Weekly mileage varies but 80-100miles is typical but I do take an easy week every 4th week even if I'm not really feeling tired just to prevent overtraining or overreaching. That means about 60 miles or so and my body feels like it's on holiday:)
Sleep- I recover fine if I get 8-10 hrs of shuteye a day. If I skimp on sleep or start to get crap sleep, I'm toast. Sleep is critical for recovery. The Almighty Nap is also a lifesaver at times.
Speed- very weird, but I'm convinced that the 100k changes you physically.It makes you stronger. It definitely makes you mentally tougher.My 5k and 10k started getting faster after I moved to the 100k than they were in my heyday in my 20s when I actually trained for them. If I race anything under a half marathon, it's usually to keep my speed from tanking from all the distance stuff. Mile? My miles are about the same as they were in my 20s-low mid 5s. I have never ever trained for mid distances, I just do the mile once in a while if it fits into speed picker upper. We have them in the indoor season once a month and I do them at the end of that easy week. My 3000 is faster than it was in college.
Injuries, niggles, and other crap-
2007- I had a nasty bronchial infection that lasted about a week. I am one of those that rarely gets sick and some years I don't even get a cold. So, anything much more than a cold is a big deal for me and effs me up. This ended up being the catalyst for a compendium of bulsh!t after that put me out for a year and a half! I had serious fatigue after the illness and then had the joy of anemia and ferritin in the single digits. It was rock bottom and I almost retired then. I was never injured during this time, just had pathetically slow times. Once I came out of that hole at 33, I have raced every season since as if it were my last because, yeah, I'm not getting any younger and I never know when I might finally fall off the cliff and be done.
Ahhhh, Achillies- bursitis...Ihad had an on again off again relationship with that for over 4 yrs. I finally broke down and got prolozone treatments last year when I was in the US, and they worked! They got rid of the lump I had had on my heel and the annoying soreness from time to time that I had just learned to live with. I try and be proactive about preventing injuries. I stretch and get massage. I also do most of my running and have throughout most of my career, on trails. I do hard days on the track,but most of the high volume has been on soft surfaces like dirt and snow all these years. I am utterly convinced that is why I still have knees and ankles that work. I like trails and the change of scenery.
Retirement- I have always said that another incident like the illness I had in 2007 would likely be career ending. Unfortunately, I may have just hit that last month. I had a horrible bronchial infection that lasted nearly a month and although my lungs have been clear since the beginning of June, my ribs are still sore (but getting better). I am going to see how this month and next go. If I feel I am coming out if this mess,I will try and race again later this year. If not, I am not at the age for another year or 2 to eff off and figure it out. I had planned to keep going as long as I could still chase 50 and 100k PRs and be competitive anough to continue to podium. If that's well into my 40s, sweet, if not, then it's time to go.
Masters? It's a great thing I think for folks who started out later in their careers and are still progressing. For me, I think it would be drepessing as holy hell when the goal becomes not running the next season much worse than the previous. Irina Privalova retired at 40 which is pretty damn impressive for a sprinter. She declined to continue into the masters because she felt it was more for people who hadn't accomplished as much when they were younger. I completely understand her now. There are very few exceptions to the rule of 40 and 50 smthgs still competing on a high level. Mutola, Meghan Arbogast,Joan Samuelson, Coleen DeReuck(sp), Kami Semick, Connie Gardner, Maria Konovalova(tuns 40 in August PRed at 39 in Chicago,Zinaida Semyeneva was strong into her mid 40s still kicking ass at Twin Cities,Fira Sultanova, Vyacheslav Shabunin, Luba Denisova...but these are exceptions to the rule.
My coach was a 13:50s 5k guy 29 in the 10 1:00xx in the half
He's 58 now 59 in 3 weeks and runs 17s in the 5 mid upper 30s in the 10
At 57 he ran a 16:54 5000 at Masters National Championships. He usually medals at Masters Worlds and at the Euros. His times age grade within a few seconds of his PRs in most cases.