As many of you know this past week I had a milestone birthday, the big 4-0. I have to admit I was a bit freaked out at first, but then realized that not only will I now gain a few minutes on my Boston Qualifying time, but I’m now part of the Masters Division (age 40 +). Now all I have to do is stay healthy. With that in mind I have a renewed dedication to being smarter with my training, nutrition and recovery. As runners, as we get older our body becomes less forgiving. If we don’t listen to it and give it the proper care, it will quickly bring you back to reality in the form of an injury which can derail your entire season.

So, what do I plan on doing now that I have hit the Masters Division?… The exact same thing I have been preaching to all the athletes I coach, which is to focus on three things: Quality Training, Strength, & Recovery.

These simple concepts have allowed me to help those who would have never thought they had a PR left in them as they got older. Just look at me, at the age of 39 I was able to shed 7 minutes off a marathon PR, and I feel like this year I can do even better! It just takes smart training.

Quality Training – Invest in a coach; layout an annual training plan with your “A” & “B” races and stick to it. As you get older it becomes even more important to make sure that every mile and race you do has a purpose. Everyone can put in miles, it’s what you put into those miles that count. Most athletes I coach have day jobs and family obligations; they typically have an hour a day to train so the quality of each workout is important. Quality pace workouts make a big difference and structuring them to become progressively faster teaches your body and mind to maintain the pace when it counts the most. A good coach will mix things up and incorporate Tempo Runs, The Track, Fartleks, etc. to keep you engaged and adapt the training as you progress.

Strength – If you have trained with or coached by me you know how much emphasis I place on running specific strength training, generally done after a quality training day. Lower body, core and balancing workouts need to be progressive, just like your training. This is the foundation where the rest of your training will be build, if you have a weak foundation it will be easy to get injured as your training gets more complex. Strength training does not have to be all core and lunges… I like to include yoga, swimming and cycling.

Recovery – Like with strength we all know how important recovery is, but often it is the first thing to go due to our day to day life events. However, making sure that at a minimum, you are getting enough sleep (8+ hours), staying hydrated and eating well. You can’t fake it, the lack of recovery will come very evident in your  training with an elevated heart rate, or that “flat” feeling we have all experienced at the track. Simply put, take care of your body so it can take care of you.

I hope these simple reminders help you all avoid some of the mistakes I have made on my journey towards the big 4-0.