Structurally, yes some runners just wear out. Others carry the burden of injuries suffered over the years (running and non-running) and just
pull back or out. It is also not uncommon for people over 40 to develop some sort of chronic disease or inherited disorder to deal with. It all
goes into the mix.
Sometimes the expectations are too high with mileage. In my experience the mileage really helps, but when people don't see the results
they expect the perception is they are worn out. It's call aging and again I don't notice it as much in shorter races, but definately in the
marathon and beyond. For instance I was 4th out of 307 finishers at the Bear Trax 20k for which I do not aim for, but was 28th out of
about 280 finishers at Ice Age which was my goal race. Similar to Al's last year when I was 41st out of almost 3,000 and 41st out of about
120 finishers at the Voyageur 50 mile last year. All on long or slower miles between 8-9 pace. It seems in the long ones (when you are
dealt multiple issues) it is harder to respond to or overcome when you are older. On the same hand, most of the people who beat me
around my age in any race distance are experienced runners and few are onset runners. Now before everyone thinks 8-9 minute miles is
the new sweet spot, I am closing in on 1,200 miles for the year.
What I clearly see at 50 is less people enter races in the older age groups. You really do analyze the need to race, especially someone
like me who runs because it is a part of me. Because some race seldom or at all, the need to get out and train decreases. This isn't
exclusive to running. Call it whatever you want, the fire to test the metal isn't always there. For me, I just like to train and doing mini
tapers or loosely cobbled together workouts doesn't work for me. I don't want to run 25 – 40 a week. I want to run 60 – 80 a week and
running slower enables me to do this.
So I don't believe it's too many miles, I believe it is perspective. You have to adjust, be willing to change, and keep it fresh. it also
shouldn't prevent one from filling up the barn with hay in case you have to swing from the rafters now and then and put a beating