. . . 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
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
Tell me in the comments:
Have you adjusted your definition of improvement over time?
What counts as improvement to you these days?