John Burtt, manager of the Age UK 10k series, is looking ahead to three events in Sheffield, Tatton Park (Cheshire) and Leeds this spring. John has first-hand experience of the increasing number of older runners competing in races and contacted northernrunninguide.com to provides us with his top tips for those looking to prolong their running career into their twilight years.
John said: "Earlier this month northernrunningguide.com reported on Fauja Singh who completed the Toronto Marathon at the ripe old age of 100, but what does it take to achieve this longevity? Working for Age UK has shown me, however, that a significant majority aren't ready to throw in their race numbers just yet, and why should they? The number of older runners taking to the streets is increasing year on year in the UK.
"I think most people who run regularly would agree on several things; the importance of a good diet, keeping active, and the necessity of having enough Vaseline to go round! As we get older our bodies naturally become more prone to injury and aches, and this leads many to slowly give up on running and aim for less active sports, or even to head to the couch.
"Eating right and training regularly seem to be the key to fitness as you grow older. Jeff Galloway's book 'Running Until You're 100' suggests a balanced diet and three sessions per week - one long run, one short run, and one long walk. Aside from this, American research has found that working to restore muscle strength and bone density is crucial in realising the potential for a healthy old age.
"Although you cannot turn back the clock, taking part in sports into your later years increases longevity, and success in these sports is supplemented by using resistance-weight machines to restore muscle lost through ageing. So eat right, train right, and work on your strength and you'll be well on the way to achieving success, and with a positive mental attitude you can achieve anything. Here's to a healthy old age for all of us."
This spring, Age UK is organising a series of 10k runs in Sheffield (24 Feb), Tatton Park, Cheshire (17 March) and Leeds (24 March) to raise money for older people. Entry is priced at £16, with the proceeds going to Age UK. More information on venues is available at the Age UK website, alternatively, email any questions to 10K@ageuk.org.uk.