Short Local Races Provide Great Training And Motivation For Older Endurance Athletes

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FitOldDog's improved running style got him second place in his age group (70-74), but Julie's running style dropped him in the end! Way to go, Julie, who may consider running with me now I'm doing better.

FitOldDog’s improved running style got him second place in his age group (70-74), but Julie’s light-hearted running style dropped him in the end by about 20 feet! Way to go, Julie, who may consider running with me now I’m doing a little better. Photo by Tara House.

I’ve never been a great runner, but progress is finally being made as I work on body movement optimization with Feldenkrais, Continuum, Gyrokinesis, hours on trails, local races, and the inspiration provided by other athletes.

As I train for the Lake Placid Ironman 2013, which includes a 26.2-mile run, you might wonder why I would want to compete in a local 4-mile running race. The answer is simple: there are some remarkable runners at local races, in which I’ve never managed to place in the top three. I did, however, scrape a second place today, for the first time, as I ran on really tired legs from hours of hard training the previous day (2000 yd.-swim, 2 hour trainer bike ride including high wattage work, and a 4-mile run).

I finally placed, 2nd, in a local run, the 4 on the 4th. (of July) 2013, Carrboro, 4-mile run. Took me long enough, but I had to fix my form.

I placed 2nd in my age group (70-74) in a local run, the 4 on the 4th. (of July) 2013, Carrboro, 4-mile run. Took me long enough, but I had to fix my form first.

Running on tired legs is par for the course in triathlons, so local races provide a great opportunity to see if you can ‘keep your running legs under you’ when they are tired before you start. I attribute my success at the Carrboro 4 on the 4th race to improved running form, about which I blogged recently.

I was dropped in the final quarter mile by Julie, a family friend and great runner, who came smiling by near my little blue house in Carrboro around mile three. Based on this race, I might finally be able to run with Julie, who has always been far ahead in the past.

Local races provide a venue for training with better runners in order to improve your performance, and remember to smile, even if it hurts.

-k @FitOldDog

PS Can you see two little corrections that I need to make to my run style based on the picture at the head of this post?



  1. Re running form: Is it that you are heel striking and your arms a little low?

  2. Hi Rory,
    Heel strike correct. I think this is a danger of Hoka One Ones, but I can fix that with some Chi Running thinking. Arms are fine, though there are different schools of thought on this one. One out of two, earns you a prize – lunch on me?
    See you at 7:00 am. for the 80/10.
    It was good to see that Julie can run again.

  3. I would say runners need to lean forward rather than upright or maybe a little backward. I agree with the heel strike…. I think believe upright form contributes to striking the heel first.

    I broke my 5th metatarsal on my left foot back in March and the subconscious effort to keep weight off the outside of my foot when training started back did a big part in helping my form. I had a tendency to land on the balls of my feet rather than the full foot. BTW…. I’m 48 and in my 4th year of sprint distance tri’s. looking forward to a race next saturday. Also looking forward to learning more from you and other fellow triathletes.

  4. Hi Tony, yep! Too upright.

    If you live around here you can have a lunch on me too! Or maybe at a race one day? I’m lined up for Lake Placid IM, Worlds 70.3 and OBX half, plus NYC Marathon, if you are going to any of these?

    During my run today, I corrected the issue by I leaning slightly forward, using gravity to pull me along, as I did when I studied Chi Running, and the heel strike disappeared as I then landed mid-foot again. I was so busy with my new form that I forgot to focus on this aspect.

    Developing optimal running form is quite a trick, and I am pleased to finally be making real progress. I was interested in the fact that your injury improved your form, which I completely believe. Injuries tend to do the opposite, however, due to inappropriate guarding.

    I think that ideal form, which is person-specific, should lead to almost effortless running unless you are exhausted (as I was today), or you are pushing the boundaries of your particular pace. There are quite a few blogs on triathlons, with mine focused more on older athlete’s issues. I like Joe Friel’s blog, and also the triathlon LinkedIn group. There are also some excellent swimming sites, which are linked in some of my posts.

    Hope you have a great race.



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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.