At what age did you notice a significant drop off in race performance?

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  MothAudio 6 years, 9 months ago.

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  • #12493


        Good morning runners! I'm going through a slump and could really use some advice. I haven't posted on this forum in a while, for those not familiar here's my Profile: 55 YO. Running since 1973. Began running higher mileage [2000-2700] in the mid-2000's after tearing my torn post-tib tendon [in 1996], and only in the last three years run high mileage [3500 mpy avg.]. In the last twelve years I've improved my race times every year; set Master PB @ 5k and half marathon in 2011.

              After my 1:36 half last October I began cutting mileage from 70 to 55 mpw and increasing the percentage of steady state runs in the effort to boost my aerobic threshold. That pattern remained the same for the next four [4] months; mileage 40-55 mpw but 20-50% @ SS effort. Everything was going along great, peaking 1st week of January with 8 mile tempo run @ 7:21 pace [w/7 miles @ 7:15]. What I averaged for my half marathon less than 3 months ago.

              Beginning in March I reduced my SS miles and blended in more workouts in the 10k-half marathon range. All this time I did very little Vo2Max workouts which I'd previously emphasized. Ever since I've been on a steady decline. Not completing my long half marathon workouts and or the pace being slower than my January workout. I didn't think too much of this at the time. Then about a month ago my workouts took a nose-dive and during two weeks ran my two worst races in the last ten [10] years. Three minutes slower for a 5k [on hilly XC course] and 13 minutes slower for half marathon!

              Obviously, something is terribly wrong. I feel otherwise fine but in my workouts I'm lacking endurance and stamina [my strong suit]. Immediately after the half I took ten [10] days off completely. This was my longest non-running break in maybe four [4] years. My lowest mileage for the past two years has been 38 mpw. Since cutting mileage  last August I would have thought I'd become stronger not weaker but felt the simplest solution was maybe I was just run down.

              My 1st two runs [8 and 10 miler] this week I backed off the pace [8:41 / 9:03 pace] and felt ok but about where I left off before the mini-break. I know it's only been two runs and I need to let this play out but I'm left wondering what else could be going on? How did I go from running my best [training] times to my worst race times in ten years in four short months?!?

    • Do I need more time off?
    • Increase mileage but lower training pace?
    • I should expect a drop off due to my age?
    • Ran myself into the ground bumping up my easy run / steady state pace?
    • See my doctor?

    I don't know if this makes a difference but I retired at the end of March and ever since my running has gone to hell.

    I appreciate any insight you might have on what could be going on! TIA.

  • #32466

    Andrew A.

    22, when my collegiate eligibility was up.  8)
    Have you had blood work for levels for ferritin, vitamin D, hormones (e.g. testosterone), etc. checked recently?  Seems like adrenal stress/fatigue or the like could be a possible factor.
    Have you had a chance to read the Magill article on longevity from a recent issue of RT?

  • #32467


    Thanks, no I haven't. I decided to take begin with taking the ten days off and if that didn't do the trick see my doctor. Been taking in more fluids and multi vitamin daily. Ran three times last week; slowing the pace [8:41 / 9:03 / 8:59] for 32 miles with SRD inbetween. Hitting the XT pretty good on my off days but after the 14 miler yesterday my legs feel pretty energized today. I have a 5k scheduled next Monday that I'm going to use to assess where I'm at.

  • #32468


    As Andrew indicated get the full panel blood test as a first step.

    I hit a steep decline from 35-39 but that was in part due to being in grad school and living in the American Outback. After that I rebounded for early masters years but have had plateaus punctuated with injury setbacks. i.e., hold a certain level for a few years, get a major injury an then come back with a little less in the tank.

    Most noticeably, at 54 my, range has narrowed somewhat. Sweet spot is the half marathon and I haven't lost much ground–even since early 40s (but only ran one back then) and 5K is my low end. Really struggle with 3K and under, as well as marathon (leads to injuries and other maladies).

    In a nutshell, not too far off from age 46-47 to today but I definitely feel shakier. Can't do the workouts (and bounce back in a reasonable time) and weeks on end of 50-70 mile weeks without breaking down.

  • #32469



  • #32470


    When my home/family life underwent some pretty big changes. 🙂

    I'll third the suggestion for a blood panel. Also, I noticed that you noted solid improvements when building volume but you've been on a pretty big (~20%?) volume reduction for some time. I know this may help some people sharpen but, for those who respond to volume such as myself, this can be a death sentence. Maybe you need to go back to some training more similar to what has worked in the past. It doesn't have to be exactly the same thing but maybe you found what will work as a peaking plan but not as a long term training plan.

    Or…I'll just throw out another idea that kind of goes along with when I saw a drop in race performance (a major life change that affects our focus on running). I would consider this a long shot explanation but have you found something to fill your time after leaving work? Or are you spending too much time dwelling on running and maybe getting yourself too stressed out over it? It's a long shot but some people do this when they have a major life change like you mention you've had.

  • #32471


    Thanks guys. While it seems things took a downward turn after my retirement the truth is I was really busy. I was on a race committee for the college and didn't want to leave just because I left. The race was about a month ago, then the follwoing weekend I captained two water stops for a 13,000 half marathon. I had 70 volunteers to look after but like I said this is the 3rd year I've done this and both of my other two halfs were solid.
    If anything I've been running less and focused on legal matters more than my running. I'm just getting to the point where things are slowing down.  I'm bumping up the mileage, keeping the pace easy while sprinkling in just enough up tempo workouts. It's too soon to freak out.

  • #32472


    My doctor just called and said my blood work came back negative after checking for a wide variety of potential issues. He said to give it some more time before we consider further testing.

  • #32473


    Nice bounce back – 50 miles – last week finishing with 17 [double] yesterday. Legs still sore from intense XT on Saturday this morning! SRD.

  • #32474


    Update: The last five weeks I've made an effort to slow down on my easy days while increasing mileage via doubles, getting back to typical mileage for me. I seem to perform best at this level [70-80 mpw]. I've also kept an eye on the % of steady state miles and careful about adding quality workouts back into the rotation. I'm about 85% back to where I was in March. Five more weeks before I begin my Fall schedule.

    WEEK 24: 74 miles
    Monday: 5 miles 46:33 – 9:18 avg. pace – recovery. Make that an active recovery day
    Tuesday: ‎10 miles 1:28:33 – 8:50 avg. pace – 3 mile tempo @ 7:40 pace [Shiller]
    Wednesday: 4 miles 36:37 – 9:24 avg. pace – recovery A.M. / XT / 8 miles 1:08:34 – 8:33 avg. pace – fartlek P.M.
    Thursday: 12 miles 1:55:14 – 9:36 avg. pace – easy. I'm off to Diary Queen!
    Friday: 8 miles 1:16:54 – 9:34 avg. pace – super easy. Off to water park with the boys. / 8 miles 1:17:04 – 9:38 avg. pace – recovery P.M. Intended to only run an easy 4 but the pace felt so easy, I just wanted to soak up a few extra relaxing miles.
    Saturday: 5 miles 45:20 – 9:40 avg. pace – recovery
    Sunday: 14 miles 2:10:40 – 9:20 pace [est.] – easy.

    WEEK 25: 69 miles                                                                                                        Began using Nike GPS
    Monday:  SRDTuesday: 5 miles 46:36 – 9:19 avg. pace – easy A.M. Hot!!! / 5 miles 45:37 – 9:07 avg. pace – easy. P.M. Even hotter!!!
    Wednesday: 4 miles 45:31 – 10:30 avg. pace – 10xshort [12 sec.] hill sprints
    Thursday: 10 miles 1:29:55 – 8:59 avg. pace – easy
    Friday: 10 miles 1:25:46 – 8:34 avg. pace – 3 mile tempo @ 7:33 pace [Goodale] A.M. / 4 miles 37:36 – 9:24 avg. pace – 6xshort [12 sec.] hill sprints + hurdle hops P.M.
    Saturday: 11 miles 1:41:21 – 9:12 avg. pace – fartlek
    Sunday:  12 miles 1:58:16 – 9:51 avg. pace – Hibanks [1:47:21 2 loops]. Jogged the flats / downhills while sprinting the hills a.m. / ‎8 miles 1:10:21 – 8:48 avg. pace – progression run P.M.

    WEEK 26: 75 miles
    : SRD
    Tuesday: 5 miles 40:23 – 8:04 avg. pace – steady state A.M. Be
    st run in a while. /  3 miles 24:59 – 8:19 avg. pace – P.M. / 6 miles 48:51 – 8:08 avg. pace – steady state P.M.
    Wednesday: 8 miles 1:16:23 – 9:32 avg. pace – very easy. A.M. / 10 miles 1:32:04 – 9:12 avg. pace – easy. P.M.
    Thursday: 8 miles 1:16:49 – 9:36 avg. pace – very easy A.M. / 4 miles 41:20 – 10:20 avg. pace – recovery A.M
    Friday: 5 miles 51:09 – 10:13 avg. pace – recovery. Man, that's all I had left in me.
    Saturday: 10 miles 1:22:33 – 8:15 avg. pace – 1×3 mile tempo run 22:35 [7:30 pace].
    Sunday: 16 miles 2:31:51 – 9:29 avg. pace – resting @ 75 miles for the week

  • #32475


    I've read your msg numerous times and (hesitantly) have chosen to respond. I'm a few yrs older (turn 60 in 5 week). To answer your question I felt I lost my competitiveness after Sept 2010 (age 58). From your history I must admit I was never your equal or speed. Didn't start running till my 40's. Sept 2010 I completed the Tahoe Triple (3 marathons in 3 days around the Lake). I finished 10th out of 50 finishers, including winning my AG the final day (the “official” Lake Tahoe marathon). Eight days later I ran my hometown marathon (Lakefront marathon) because it was the 30th anniversary and finished in 3:40:31 ( 13th outta 84 in my AG). Since then I've never broken 4hr…
    It's like I hung a rock around my neck and weights to my ankles. W/O cryin' in my beer I'm nolonger competitive @ any distance, but I still do what I can. I've registered for a marathon in Aug in the hopes that I can get into Boston while I'm 60. Hey, the odds are against me, but it's what we do……Don't give up just yet!!

  • #32476


    Layne, that's the attitude I'd love to see more people take, no matter when their performances drop off. Don't give up. Maybe the goals change, maybe we accept a different paradigm, but we can still strive to challenge ourselves to be the best runners we can be. Whether that means chasing goals we once took for granted or seeing how close we can come to our prior selves or any of dozens of other goals we could set for ourselves, there are always ways we can challenge ourselves and it's often in attempting to meet those challenges that we learn about ourselves and what we are truly capable of.

  • #32477


    Thanks for sharing Layne. Even before the set back this Spring I began thinking about this process a few years ago; at what point the eventual decline would begin. While I'm pleased with the changes I've made to my schedule over the last two months and the adaptations those changes have produced I'm still not back to my peak level earlier in the year. I haven't run a race lately but all of my training paces, while improving, are still slower than they were; tempo pace is about 15 sec./mile slower as are the steady state miles I was cranking out, though I've been careful about pushing the inbetween paces.

    Never did discover what exactly brought about my rapid decline in performance and while mileage is up and my endurance is improving, the speed has been more difficult to recover. But it's too early to think accept and I'm focusing on adding new elements to get back that spring in my step. Last week makes four [4] weeks averaging over 70 mpw. This week I'll add some longer Vo2Max hill surges.

    WEEK 27: 72 miles
    : SRD
    : 10 miles 1:31:49 – 9:10 avg. pace – 3 mile tempo @ 7:27 pace [Goodale]+ 6x200m hill sprints. A.M. / 4 miles 36:37 – 9:09 avg. pace – recovery P.M.
    Wednesday: 10 miles 1:34:54 – 9:29 avg. pace – easy
    : 6 miles 54:23 – 9:03 avg. pace – 2×4:00 @ 3k pace + 6xshort hill sprints A.M. / 6 miles 48:37 – 8:06 avg. pace – 2 miles @ steady state P.M.Friday: 8 miles 1:13:38 – 9:12 avg. pace – easy A.M. /3 miles 4.5 – 9.0 mph / XT P.M.
    Saturday: 10 miles 1:30:23 – 9:02 avg. pace – 82° @ 5:30 A.M.
    Sunday: 10 miles 1:32:14 – 9:13 avg. pace  – easy with a couple of steady state miles A.M. / 5 miles 48:50 – 9:46 avg. pace – jogged flats & downhills / sprinted uphills on metro park trail P.M.

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