Here’s part of Jabe’s Running Group in Moab. I had a discussion recently with a friend about ten years younger than me on our respective optimal running distance. The conversation started discussing a 5K we ran together last December. He said either a 5K or 10K was his best distance. I responded that the half marathon was mine. Distance running gets easier with age. Not that you speed up necessarily but the distance becomes more comfortable. I believe it is true that you can continue to build aerobic capacity with age; although you certainly lose speed.
Maybe not lose speed so much as fall into a single speed. My pace over the last 4 years is a case in point. I’ve run as fast in marathons as I have in 10Ks. My last 3 Bolder Boulder 10Ks ranged from 7:45 to 8:17 per mile. I’ve run 2 half marathons this year well under 7:45 minute miles while 8:17 is my average pace over the last few years. And I’ve even run an 8:19 pace in the 2010 Denver Marathon. The distance almost doesn’t matter. My legs are stuck in low gear. A true sign of an aging runner.
I’m not sure how I feel about this. I think I want to run a break-out Bolder Boulder this spring. Maybe not the 6:35 pace I ran it in 23 years ago, but I’m seriously thinking under 7 minutes per mile. I did run a couple of 5Ks last December and couldn’t break a 7 minute pace but that’s sort of to my point. I should be able to run shorter distances at a faster pace. I should be able to put on a kick at the end of my half marathons instead of needing to cool down. Question is, how to get faster? Without throwing up.
I’m not running intervals on the track. Certainly not repetitions. The plan is to mix some speed play into my distance runs. This is known as running fartleks and is a nice way to get in a track workout on the trail. This could possibly help me run stronger in the Boulder Half in April but I’m really doing this to run faster in the Bolder Boulder 10K, which isn’t for another two months. I suspect the best way to improve my half marathon and marathon pace would be to simply lose weight, but that’s not something I care to do. I’m good with 175. I still have a bit of a paunch, but it looks fine in a sports coat.