Considerations and Expectations
If you had world class speed as an open athlete, chances are you’ll do well in your age group. If you were a mediocre athlete back then, chance are you’ll be mediocre in the Masters.
There are exceptions to the attrition rule where “average” athletes have shown little attrition and become world class at the Masters level. (i.e. USA’s James Chinn, Canada’s Mike Sherar and Holland’s Eric Roeske are just a few examples).
And of course, how can we forget the amazing Troy Douglas or Merlene Ottey who were still competitive at 40?
If you want to know what to expect (with exceptions), I wrote an article about realistic goals from Open to Masters where I mentioned some basic formulas or using WMA Age Grade table (more on that below)
Using the car analogy, the real key is how much mileage you have in your body. Some people are born with a durable car, others are born with a delicate car (or sometimes lemon?). Over do it, and you end up with Achilles tendonitis, bad knees, or chronic hamstrings problems. What used to take 2 weeks to recover is now 8 weeks or several months. Sadly, you can’t change your shock absorbers at 100,000 kilometers or miles.
Your “total mileage” and realistic training volumes will determine how long you can run before getting injured (again). But if you take care of your car and change the oil often, you can have a 1999 Saturn SL1 with over 300,000 km and still runs smooth (heh heh). You won’t pick up any chicks on Robson street on a Saturday night, either.
So What Can You Expect?
It’s pretty obvious that World class sprinters in the open category will always have an edge when they turn Masters. Names like Jeff Laynes (who just turned 40), Willie Gault or Bill Collins are familiar in the Masters circles.
I’ve always said for a 400 meter man, add 4 seconds to your open PR to get a M40 goal, then it’s 2 seconds every 5 years. For the 200m, add 2 seconds to your open PR to get a M40 goal, then one second every 5 years.
Below is a chart using the left side as my basic attrition rates. I am highlighting 22 & 48 for 200/400 meters which is very close to my 21.98 and 48.36 open PRs.
These are just general guidelines, and it would be great if you can prove me wrong with your Masters comeback.