[00:00:00] As each of us gets older every single day, whether we like it or not, one of the questions that maybe creeps into your mind is, “Am I getting too old to run?” So today I want to talk about this is the age when you should stop running.
[00:00:25] I’m Jesse Funk, the founder of Solpri.com and the host of this show, Runner’s High, where we talk about everything running and endurance related. So if you like running and you haven’t been around with me here before. Hit subscribe for more videos every single week.
[00:00:39] Now, if you’re like me and I’m only in my early thirties here, but I’ve been at this a couple of decades now and this year has been particularly difficult for me. I’ve had an injury that I’ve really dealt with all year. I’m going to cover that in another video. Why that’s been? What I’ve been doing for recovery? And how I’m getting back into more intense running?
[00:01:01] But when you encounter an injury like that, you start to wonder, like, should I just give it up? Should I just say forget it? I mean, that’s the kind of negative thoughts I’ve had to deal with this year where I wonder, like, have I finally hit my limit? I think the answer is no for me at this juncture. But it made me wonder about “Is there a time when it’s more beneficial to not be running anymore?”
[00:01:28] Through all of the research that I’ve looked at, that my assistant has helped me put together, thank you to her. Thank you, Aira. We basically have come to the conclusion, no, there is no age when you should stop running.
[00:01:42] Now, this comes with some caveats in that like somebody like me or maybe like you, who’s been running for a long time. You built up that history, you built up that strength. You built up, you know, denser bones. You have tendons that are more likely to deal with the strain of running that helps you continue to move.
[00:02:02] There’s basically the idea that if you keep moving, you can keep moving. Like as we get older, it gets more difficult. But there’s plenty of studies that have shown that between the ages of like 30 and — no maybe not 30s, it was like 40 and 75 or something. There’s not that much decline in performance.
[00:02:25] Like we do see a decline. You start to see muscle mass loss after 40, but it’s so minimal. After 75, you start to see like bigger drop offs per year. But when we think about like the average lifespan, I don’t know what it is now because it keeps changing. But the average lifespan for North American man and woman, something like 75, give or take, it’s like 73, 75 men typically live shorter lives than women.
[00:02:56] If we think about 75 on what we’re starting to hit the end of the road. So it makes sense. We’re starting to hit some of those really like big drops. But there’s lots of life prior to 75 and even after 75.
[00:03:10] It goes back to that idea that if you stop moving, you’re going to stop moving. Like I talked about this with a number of guests on the Smart Athlete Podcast — another show I do here on this channel, it comes out on Fridays — about the idea of like, how do you age with your activity, be it running or any other sport. How do you continue to do this when you get older? And what’s the importance?
[00:03:33] And any of the people I’ve talked to, specifically, the people who focus on age-related research, all suggest you just got to keep going and strength becomes even more important.
[00:03:45] So that means, like it or not, you’re going to have to hit the gym, hit the weights a bit to keep up your strength as you get older is hitting those strength exercises are more and more important as we get older to maintain muscle mass.
[00:03:59] Now, beyond that, the depends part, right? What does it mean for you? Well, if you’re coming to running later in life, that means maybe you’re not going to be doing quite as much as somebody who’s been doing it for a long time. There is the idea of base we talk about from time to time.
[00:04:19] Typically, we’re talking about your history and your aerobic base, meaning like how does long miles you put in for a particular season, how fit your aerobic system is? But I think there’s also the idea of like a lifetime base.
[00:04:33] You’ve seen people come back to running that maybe have taken a couple of years off, but spent maybe a decade or something, a long period of time, took a few years off, came back, and then they’re back into it relatively quickly. I think there are some kind of adaptations that our bodies have that we don’t de-train from quite as easily as if you don’t have that background.
[00:04:55] So this is conjecture on my part a little bit here. But as we get older, I would suggest the decades and decades of proper wear on our body actually helps us sustain that longer into life. So if you came at it later, you just simply didn’t have the time to build up that base.
[00:05:16] Now, does that mean you should stop or you should quit or you should just say, I didn’t. I came at it later. I’m just not going to do it. No. You just have to adjust your goals. And me is a good example. As I mentioned, I’ve been doing this for over 20 years now, and this year I’m really not been able to race because I’ve been dealing with this injury is an adjustment of where I am right now.
[00:05:39] Does that mean that I’m always going to be here and I’m never going to be able to compete again? No, like, as I’m filming this video, I’m almost 100% pain-free and I’ll be back to regular training here very shortly. So it’s just a matter of figuring out what your particular situation is, what your goals are, and then making adjustments from there.
[00:06:00] My last little side note for getting older and still wanting to run this is prevalent for now, and I’m sure it’s going to be even more and more prevalent as I get older is treating your body with care. So doing those foam rolling things, maybe it’s like sitting in the hot tub, relaxing a bit, not pushing too hard, getting plenty of rest. All those things become more and more important because we don’t recover as fast as when we are younger. And that again becomes exacerbated.
[00:06:32] So we don’t just have to deal with the muscle loss over time, which again is pretty small year to year until we hit that like 75-year-old range and then it starts to decline a little bit faster. But you’re combating that with longer recovery times, so you have to be a little bit more gentle on yourself.
[00:06:53] So keep that in mind as you get older. Still want to race, but know that there is no hard limit to, “Hey, you have to absolutely stop” because more people are competing as they’re older, they’re staying active and I think living healthier, happier lives.
[00:07:12] So do you have any questions for me about running you’d like to ask? Leave them in the comments below. I’d love to make a video for you in the future. I hope I’ll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.