Improvment . . .

. . . is finding new ways to measure success

Improvement: an act of improving or the state of being improved

Beginning runners often see improvement by leaps and bounds in the beginning — it actually makes that hard work feel good, because you see improvement.

What if you’ve been running for decades? What improvments can you hope to see as you get older? Is it even possible to see improvement as we age?

There is always space for improvement, no matter how long you’ve been in the business.— Oscar de la Hoya


Redefining improvement
For the vast majority of runners, there comes a time in their running lives when speed can no longer be their yardstick for improvement. Most of us slow down as the years pile on.

Does that mean you have to hang up your running shoes? I feel a bit silly writing this part. I’m not yet to that point. I like to believe that it won’t happen to me, but statistics say otherwise.

So what can you use for a yardstick for improvement if you’re no longer getting faster?

  • Running with better form
  • Running hills without dying
  • Running a longer distance
  • Concentrate on the shorter distances
  • Running negative splits
  • Winning an age group award
  • Running without injury
  • Look at age graded results — Runner’s World has a calculator here

For instance, I plugged in my most recent half marathon PR: 2:30:32. My age graded results are 2:04:28! Now, I know plenty of runners my age who are way faster, but I will admit to being surprised — and pleased — by my age graded number.

Now I say that if you run more than 15 miles a week, it’s for something other than aerobic fitness. Once you pass 15 miles, you do not see much further improvement. –Kenneth H. Cooper

Think inches, not miles
I don’t know if the above quote is true. It doesn’t ring true to me. I did a few quick searches, and most seemed to indicate that it wasn’t mileage that mattered, it was training in the right heart rate zone. And if you don’t have a tracker with a heart rate monitor, you might consider the Blink 3.0 from Heartzones – buy it here (disclaimer: I am an ambassador for Heartzones).

I will agree that running long distances isn’t necessarily an ideal path to overall fitness. It has many advantages, and many disadvantages too. Which is a topic for another post.

So can you still see improvement as you age — or simply as you’ve spent quite a few years running? If my running friends are any indication, yes, you can. New runners can often improve by leaps and bounds, but that’s unlikely to happen as you age.

A PR is a PR whether it’s 20 minutes or 20 seconds or 2 seconds. Sure, 20 minutes feels a lot better than 2 seconds — but improvement, no matter how small, should always be celebrated.

Improvement isn’t always about time. Improvement is about cultivating a positive attitude and finding new ways to define success.
— Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy

Deb Runs

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup


Tell me in the comments:

Have you adjusted your definition of improvement over time?

What counts as improvement to you these days?

19 thoughts on “Improvment . . .

  1. I’m still in denial. For me improvement is getting on the same course. Until it’s not. Lol

    Eventually it will be staying uninjured and finishing a race. Not sure when that will be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re still setting PRs, so I don’t think you have anything to be in denial apart. Even if it’s just a minute — or a few seconds — it’s a PR. And it’s more likely to be a very small amount the longer you run.


  2. Improvement is kind of subjective (and I use that to my advantage). I have learned that the number of miles, races, and years a person runs all affect the ‘improvement” ratio. Someone who runs only a couple of races per year will likely see substantial improvements (even more if they are a relatively new runner). Being an experienced runner, though, I find myself on a plateau much of the time. Granted, I’m not really getting slower, but the faster finish times are not necessarily getting faster LOL Oh well. glass half full, right?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Improvement to me is different these days than it used to be. Improvement is adding distance or speed or squatting slightly more weight while feeling confident with my knee or just working out 4 days in a row without feeling like I’m going to fall over. haha

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I keep hearing about how everyone slows down as they age, and yet I still see older people getting PRs, so I’m apt to not believe the statistics. Look at Darlene still getting PRs, look at you still getting PRs (and improving the older you get), and then look at AG race results… there are some fast older people out there. So, yes, I agree with you… the improvements may not be huge, but improvement is improvement.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m definitely making adjustments to what improvements I can expect as I’m getting older – like a new time that I hope to finish all 5K’s by, but is significantly slower than my old PR. I suspect I’ll have to readjust those times in the not so distant future… Sigh

    Thanks for linking up!

    Liked by 1 person

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