World Masters Athletics

If you were considering entering the World Masters Athletics Track & Field Championships in Malaga, 4-16 September, well, no flowers and podium gold for you this time – you’ve missed the deadline.

Browsing the entries and qualifying marks is inspiring. In the 100m 40-44 age category several athletes have sub 11 second marks recorded this year. Phew. But not as impressive perhaps as the wonderful Richard Pitcairn-Knowles, the Brit competing in the 85-89 age group 5k, with a time this year of 30.22. Hat doffed to you, Sir. And a very large

downloadhat flowered with kudos doffed to Man Kaur, the Indian lady competing in the 100m in the 100+  age category. She throws the javelin too.

Master athletics, like many sports, attracts those that participated as a junior and senior athlete and continue to train and compete as they move into masters (35+ categories). It also has many that stopped running, jumping, throwing way back in time and have found it again; a love rekindled. Some never competed and are taking up events for the first time in their middle age. Local running clubs are the place to start and often have people of wide ability competing for them in local events up to regional and national levels.

How would you get on? In my age category of 50-54, for example, Steve Peters holds the 100m UK record: 11.48 seconds. That is seriously ageing roadrunner quick. And you 5k runners might struggle to keep up with the UK record set by Martin Rees in the same age group: 14.53

Genetics play a major part in athletic longevity as we age, but there are factors within our control. Specific event training of course, but what else?

– reducing ‘junk’ miles/exercises and focusing on where the benefits are limits injuries and overtraining. Expand the rest periods

– incorporate HIIT: anaerobic training increases testosterone which aids recovery, key in the middle-aged as this hormone’s level naturally recedes as we age

– flexibility – obvious, but regular flexibility stretching is crucial

– cardiovascular capability is sustained with regular activity and overload

– neuromuscular recruitment. Loss of motor unit innervations (asking muscles to move) are minimised with specific training

I hope to be competing when I’m 100. Be it in a wheelchair, as dust or as a cloud…

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