How to take care of your body after a life of competitive running / athletics

As a competitive runner, there are few things that command as much of your time and energy as training. Deciding which races to run, coordinating travel, and planning your training routine are an integral and exciting part of the life of an athlete. When it comes to recovery and taking care of your body, however, age plays a role. A lifetime of competitive running has great benefits for your body, but once you hit 40, the body begins to respond differently. How you care for your body during this stage of life is as important as your training routine.

 exercise image

Recovery Begins Before Your Next Run

A thorough warmup is more important than ever. The risk of injury and overtraining increases, which translates to less time to train. While we all understand the basics of training, a habit of scrimping on a warmup is a mistake, particularly for pro athletes 40 and above. Warming up not only prepares your body for the training session, it will minimize the damage to your muscles which ultimately means a faster recovery. When you exercise, your muscles go through extreme stress, with an increased flow of nutrients to the muscles for growth. Muscle growth and strength cannot occur without proper rest and the right recovery nutrients – the body will simply become tired and worn. Specific after-workout steps will help you gain more out of every workout, particularly if you have been a competitive athlete throughout your lifetime.

exercise image

Quality over Quantity

A shift in your mindset can work wonders for a training schedule. Rather than simply looking to hit a specific number of miles each week, begin a run with purpose in mind. You may decide to do a run with HIIT, a long run, a slow run, or one to keep tempo. No matter the goal, always run with a purpose – and ensure your body is replenished with the right nutrients, at the right times, following your run or training session.

The Importance of the Cool Down

Once you reach 40, your body starts to go through changes. Its ability to repair itself slightly declines, with a gradual loss of muscle and connective tissue. The muscles start to lose some elasticity. Tight muscles can mean a shorter stride with an increased susceptibility to injury. Including an extra, off-the-clock mile or two followed by stretching will allow you to keep up your training and reduce the risk of injury, while keeping your muscles healthy. Stretching thoroughly after each run will not only minimize post-workout pain but help maintain a higher level of muscle strength and flexibility for the long term.

eating image
As a runner, you understand the importance of nutrition as a part a training routine.

Nutrition for Recovery

As a runner, you understand the importance of nutrition as a part a training routine. The days when you could just grab and consume whatever was convenient are pretty much over. Planning your post-workout nutrition will ensure your body gets the fuel it needs for a faster, healthier recovery. The optimal time to refuel your body after a good run or workout is within 30 minutes, and again two hours later. A combination of protein and carbohydrates – heavy on the carbs – will give your body what it needs to repair, restore energy, and build muscle strength to help you avoid fatigue.

sleeping image


Athletes and coaches alike all agree on one thing: there’s nothing that will aid your recovery efforts more than healthy sleep. When training for a big race, rest becomes even more important to strength and endurance. You should be getting between ten and twelve hours of sleep each night. While this might seem excessive, your body is doing bulk of its recovery during sleep. As you move out of the thirties and into the forties, you may find it is more difficult to get to sleep. Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day will train your body to a standard routine that can significantly boost your energy and endurance for an upcoming race.

resting image

Planned Time Off

Pro athletes know that time off is part of a healthy, long career. After the laser-like focus required to train for elite races, both your body and your brain are ready for a break. Most runners agree that planning to take time off is a far better than being forced to take a break to recover from an injury or exhaustion. Listen to your body and your intuition. It will tell you when you need to take a day, week, or even a month off. When you return, you’ll be well-rested and ready to tackle your next race with confidence.

Dr. Casey Crisp serves as the Director of Clinical Quality Assurance at Airrosti, a nationwide health care organization specializing in musculoskeletal pain injury treatment. His primary role is educating and developing new doctors and managing clinical teams to meet clinical requirements in documentation, clinical assessment, and quality care assurance. He currently serves as the lead instructor for the CEU (Continuing Education Unit) program for Doctors of Chiropractic.

Do not be a victim of repetition or habit

We do the same robotic running every day or many times a week and we are starting to feel the pain. Mix it up as we are now 50 or 60 or 70 years of age. This is supposed to be fun so do not fall in the trap of “I must run every day” even when you’re losing your edge or are hurting.

I have a neighbor who lives for marathons and he looks haggard and just plain unhealthy. If he is willing to pay the price then it is what it is, but too many of us have a running addiction and need to be reprogrammed. Sorry, I just hate to see people not seeing the signs as we all love to run too much, and the drugs from running is tough to beat.

So some do biking or swimming as an alternative but I am going to lay out a program to think about for staying in shape as we age that requires zero preparation to keep us active between running days as most of runners must stay active for our own mental frame work.

The almighty push up (wow, hard to beat), a perfect combo of aerobic and anaerobic. Any time, any place, just hit the floor. Is it hard? Well yes, but us runners are used to pain. Two sets of 25 after waking up. One before coffee in the morning and another after. Big lunch? Do another 25. Still feel stuffed? Do another 25. Come home from work and quick refresher, 25 more.

The steps can be done well anywhere there are steps. I live in a condo building with a nice set of steps to our courtyard. Five sets in ten minutes, yea baby! Raining or bad weather? There are seven floors here, just do the same inside. You can find some steps in your home anywhere. Going up no problem, going down be careful.

Hand Grippers are great. I like the one below as I can adjust it. I like one hand at a time at highest tension of sets of 100 per hand. This is a process and will work up to it. Feel stressed? get out the gripper. Need a break and the same.

Adjust your weights accordingly – I like heavy weights here

Dumbbells are great and can be kept anywhere. I like curls where I stick my elbow near the groin area, 25 reps per arm, 35 pounds. Work your way up to your comfort zone. There are many schools of thought of high reps verses higher weights and lower reps, find what’s right for you. I like several exercises as depicted below but do what feels right for you.


So philosophically speaking, if the Lord will give us 90 years of life or 100 years of life, we want to be able to run. But how can we make it there for the sport and the breath of life we love so much? Well, I laid out my prescribed method to save our knees and strengthen our bodies and an easy method that takes no real preparation like swimming or biking does but it’s all good. Love swimming, biking, and rowing all all all, but the above can be done at any place, any time. Pick your spots like an ocean swim or a tandem bike ride with your partner, but let’s hope we will always be able to run till death do us part, ha ha.

…And help others feel the same

We live in a difficult world where mothers and fathers pass as well as tragedies heightened by the media, which becomes unavoidable. We watch many folks age and take countless medications. We see people in their sixties and seventies walking with canes and walkers and wow, we say this journey sure goes quickly! I think a lot of us senior runners because we are lucky from of good fortune of good health makes us more compassionate about people and in turn we want to help our fellow humans. And for lack of words, help folks that are not as fortunate as us health-wise as we are. But our advice is usually on deaf ears.

Yes we are the fitness experts as we have learned from our experiences. We are the survivors as we experience pain and joy with every run which takes a certain personality type. We tell the obese and the not-so healthy that their predicament is reversible and they laugh or say it’s not their thing. So why is that? I assume by an educated guess that it is a lack of discipline.

I am lucky at 62 years of age. I have learned from my body and by cross training which I feel is the key to running longevity. And what I love like most of us runners is RUNNING. The wind, the cool air, the sweat, the mountains, the ocean, all part of what becomes life and living and the natural beauty we live with and what we call the running experience. And the all non-avoidable negatives like the chump that cuts you off while driving and what we perceive as the people with less awareness as i think we believe our life as runners we have heightened feelings of humanity so we therefore try to be good to our fellow human beings. Is this because of our running? Of course it is as running calms us and we see what others cannot…yes maybe slightly exaggerated to get my point across. It gives us drive and hopefully balance and we cannot just run and feel good about ourselves, but also try harder to help others.

So, can we mentor others who just do not seem to get it? Okay, so let’s take the folks who are stuck in fast food culture. How do you explain there is a better way or lead by example to mentor them in the right direction? There are also some serious issues of food addiction.

The extremely overweight do suffer everyday with their addiction. I was told by one individual that they were the health and diet experts as he did not drink nor smoke and many of the right elements like extreme water consumption blah blah but this individual was double his optimum body weight. Denial and petty lies is the first step to get through to the individuals that lack the discipline we have. The lying is purely self-defeatist on their part and certainly are only hurting themselves.

So again, I will make the bold statement that it is all about discipline. But how can you bring people away from one suffering of obesity to another different kind of suffering that brings self-esteem and pleasure through this kind of suffering of diet and exercise which will eventually turn into pleasure. The harsh reality is that being overweight is part of a general feeling of lack of control over the course of their lives and do they lie lie lie about it to escape their curse and reality.


Well for starters, remember that many of these people are habitual liars when it comes to their diets, so tell them straight up to stop the bullshit because no need as we want to help. So you must get them to accept that you know they are lying and just lack discipline and that we can help if they will accept the mentorship. Then the simple equation of calories in calories out is the only way for them to lose weight. Then my belief is unless one is a professional trainer, we must steer them to a pro that can help unless we can break them down and feel we have the expertise to deal with these personality types. They need to be mentored and the old cliché of tough love once the program is set where some no nonsense trainer sets a rigid plan of exercise and diet and I believe our role is to encourage and at the same time be realistic by not buying into any lies and only help them to focus on their goals and the end result of breaking the cycle.


Well, there are many theories, but all a matter focus and discipline in this writer’s opinion So mentor on and just maybe we can make a difference..