Energy levels

by Mike C
(Tempe, az, USA)

Hi. I've been running since my 20's in the 1970's.... now in my 60's I still run 5 or 6 miles when I go out about 3 times a week. The energy levels are the part I want back! 10 years ago, I'd finish a run, jump in the shower and join my friends for beer and wings at a local restaurant. Now I finish my run, I shower, and want to lay on the couch for an hour and watch TV until I get my energy levels back. Anything I can take to recover better?

Nicole's reply:
Hi Mike, I totally relate to your question. In fact I had a smile as I thought of myself today after I got back from a long run. Eat, shower, sofa!

It's a fact that as we get older, our body needs more time to recover from physical exercise and that means more rest time. Along with that, we tend to lose muscle mass with age and our metabolism slows down. Both those things mean that we not only need to rest more, but we also need to eat well in order to keep our body ticking over in as perfect condition as we can.

Here are some tips that might help:

Stretch. Before every run, do a proper 15 minute warm up with dynamic stretches. After your run do gentle stretches. This will help ease tightened muscles, ligaments and tendons. Also gentle rolling or massage of your muscles will get the blood flow moving and will aid muscle repair and help to remove toxins.

After a run, ingest some fluid and protein within 30 minutes. Try to avoid the quick fix processed foods but got for something with healthy carbs and protein. This will help refuel and repair muscle and help to stop that sluggish feeling. Examples: Eggs, nuts, nut butters, wholegrain bread, Greek yoghurt, milk, bananas, berries, avocado.

Look at your diet in general. Cut back on processed food and unhealthy carbs. I find that if I drink alcohol and eat rubbish food the day before a run, my run is often rubbish too and I feel sluggish afterwards.

If you like a bath, a cup of magnesium flakes in the water can do wonders for tired muscles.

If your calves are achy, consider wearing compression socks for a couple of hours post run.

An older body is going to find it harder to handle speed sessions compared to their younger counterpart. Check if you are overdoing it and dial back the intensity. Make sure too, that at least 80% of your running is at an easy conversational pace.

Check your heart rate when training and use that as a guide to see if you are pushing too hard. If you don't know much about heart rate training, have a look at MAF training.

Take a "down week" every 2 or 3 weeks. In your down week, reduce your mileage by 25-50% and reduce your running intensity. Maybe just run easy for the whole week.

Build in some cross training and strength work into your week to help maintain your muscle mass and to strengthen your ligaments and tendons. By strengthening them, you will experience less fatigue. Choose a regime that you enjoy and that you will stick to. I have a 20 minute routine that I do twice a week and I walk our dog every day round a hilly field.

Get a good nights sleep. I know lots of people who complain about not being able to sleep as well, once they hit 40 and upwards. If that's you too, look for ways of dealing with it. Our body recovers and repairs whilst we are sleeping.

If you haven't had a health check in the past year, it might be worth getting one from your doctor just to rule out medical issues.

I hope that helps!

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