On way to work today I listened to the latest podcast of Marathon Training Academy and the topic was “The Aging Marathoner.” It appears that, because I am now over 50 years of age, I am classified as an “aging marathoner!”
And it appears that I am not a rare breed. According to the article, in the US, “runners over age 50 represent one of the fastest-growing age groups participating in the marathon” and that “the number of marathon finishers age 50 and older nearly tripled to 92,200, or about 18% of the total in 2011.” Also, a recent study from the sports science department at the University of Burgundy in France, looked at the NYC Marathon from 1980 to 2009 and they found that “the percent of finishers younger than 40 years significantly decreased, while the percent of master’s runners significantly increased for both males and females.”
Actually the article made me regret not running a marathon much earlier in my life. The article lists what happens to our bodies as we age – the physiological changes like decreased maximal heart rate, decreased stroke volume and cardiac output, fewer blood capillaries, smaller and fewer mitochondria in the muscles (which are responsible for energy production), decreased maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max), decreased insulin production, decreased growth hormone production, decreased muscle mass, increased body fat, decreased muscle strength and endurance, and changes to nerve functioning which would result in increased reaction time. I wonder what my time would have been if I had started training for a marathon ten years ago.
But on the other hand, it’s good that I started running before I had hit 50. I also wonder what would have happened if I had not started running, if I had not joined those short 5k fun runs and if I had not graduated to running a half-marathon. If I had not started running, it probably would have been much much harder to start.