I turned 47 today, and contemplating yet another Masters comeback. In my mid 30’s while still running open meets, I had great visions of performing well when I turned 40. The Canadian Masters record was tied at 50.10 and I had just run 50.44 at age 34 after a 4 year lay-off. All my non-running friends at work thought I was nuts to be actually looking forward to my 40th birthday. No need for mid life crisis… track is life.
Those dreams disappeared pretty fast, so I started a new set of goals after researching Masters Track more seriously. I was getting close to my “Theoretical Attrition Goals” a few months before turning 40 (23.54, 37.11, 52.63 for the 200-300-400), but I was hampered by a nagging Achilles injury time and time again.
Also adding more fuel to the disappointment was the 2003 WMA was moved back from Sept (Kuala Lumpor, Malaysia) to early July in Puerto Rico making me 39.9 years old and ineligible. Back then Masters was only M40. M35 need not apply.
No need for sympathy. Fellow Canadian David Lee Provo took center stage (though we would have had an awesome relay team). Not taking anything away from David, but my ex-McGill teammate Allan Tissenbaum would have been in the mix for the medals.
Salvaging a frustrating season, I ended up finishing 2nd to David at the Canadian Masters Championships in the 200 meters on a bad Achilles (23.73 wind –2.1) in August as my Masters debut. I knew I had one good race in me before I reinjured it again, in which I did.
Moral of the story: Records look soft at a distance. The records at the next age group always seem attainable, but attrition rate does not lie once you get there.
Fast Forward to M50
Fast forward 10 years and now I’m approaching 50. Once again, I am not depressed as I have something to look forward to. Also being in Italy, I have several top guys to chase down (as well as Dutch guys, too) (Enrico and Eric, are you reading this?)
The question is, what?
What goals can I expect?
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 (left side). I am highlighting 22 & 48 which is very close to my 21.98 and 48.36 open PRs:
One can also use WMA age grade tables (Excel sheet here) and get similar goals (see table, right side)
It’s pretty obvious that World class sprinters in the open category will always have an edge when they turn Masters. Names like Willie Gault or Bill Collins are familiar names in Masters circles.
So there you have it.
My goals will be 26 and 56 at M50 and in a perfect injury-free world, 25.53 and 55.06.
I won’t bother checking how these times rank at the WMA Championships because there is the additional element of surviving the rounds.
SIDENOTE: WMA 2013 is scheduled for early July and once again, I’ll be 49.9 years old. However, the World Masters Games (WMG) are in Torino starting August 2, 2013 AND it’s an easy train ride away. Check back in 3 years!
Excellent article in that it reveals that it is never too early to prepare for the task at hand no matter how far in the future it may be because that day will come. But will we be ready for it? I also like the fact that your experiences, desires and constantly changing scenarios are very common and must be dealt with in order to succeed and that preparation requires deliberate, insightful, evolving and constant attention. What it shows for me personally is that I need to be less lazy even though I carry a heavy load, put in a fine effort and believe I’m working hard.
P.S. Happy birthday 2 days ago
Great article Jimson!!
Terry Parks says
I am starting to question what are limits. Mr.Douglas Kalembo ran a 49.88 at age 50! I was able to run a 55.11 400 meters and 2:06 800 meters on 9 months of training. I think I can go faster next year, as I don’t feel completely fit yet.
I think that records are going to re-written in the next few years. I think a lot of what we think we cannot do is coming from a society that sees anyone over 30 as over the hill.
I agree it is hard to comeback from a long layoff. I could barely break 85 seconds in a 400 a year ago, but with the proper training and nutrition, I think that we can do better than what the age grading tables say.
Jimson Lee says
@Terry, I am not sure what I will run, but my main problem is my brain still thinks I can run 50 point.
Very good times, Terry, regardless of age. What is your current age? Do you be compete in sanctioned races or the Masters events? What program have you incorporated for your training and what are your basic diet guidelines? Until what age do you anticipate training and competing? Keep up the good work. Thanks.
Terry, I agree 100% with you.
If you run a 1:22 low 600 you can!
Terry Parks says
I am 46. I ran at the US Nationals this year and got 4th in the 800 (2:06.03) and 9th in the 400 (55.11). My real target is the Worlds next year. I met Earl Fee at the Nationals and I think that I would like to have a long Masters career just like him. I can’t imagine stopping now, since it was very hard to start up and since I am having so much fun.
As far as nutrition, I don’t do anything crazy, just a balanced diet with plenty of carbs. I found the website caloriecount.about.com to be very helpful, since it provides a free analysis of your diet.
I have an online coach – Richard Holt at Momentum Sports in the UK. We do some interesting workouts, but they are pretty specific to me and my strengths and weakness. I did some long runs, some hills, some sprinter stuff, and lots of long track intervals — the hardest was this one: we started off around 3K pace and worked our way down to 800 pace: 900 minute rest, 600; rest 10 minutes 600 rest 1 minute 400; rest 8 minutes 400 rest 1 minute 300; rest 6 minutes 300 rest 1 minute 200; rest 5 minutes 200, rest 1 minute 150. We are working on improving my strength and endurance this fall with some hard 1.5 milers and 2 milers, some longer runs, and weights.
Terry what about your speed endurance?
Terry Parks says
I do some specific speed endurance work also sets of 150’s, 200’s and 300’s with minute rest between reps and about 6 between sets. This kind of workout seems to be might sweet spot and comes fairly easily for me. I looking to build my speed and my overall endurance this fall so when we do move to 400/800 specific stuff, I will have greater speed and more endurance.
Thank you for the detailed and informative responses. Can we assume that you also have a full time career besides training like mad for your running events? And if you do, are your training sessions both early and late in the day? What kind of stretching and rejuvenation programs do you include? Very inspirational.
Terry Parks says
I am a software engineer. During the competition season, I did mostly evening workouts. But now that I am back in base mode, I like to do morning workouts during the work week. On the weekends, I have tended to like an 11 am to 1 pm time frame of working out.
I do a dynamic stretches before any running – Squats, lunges, skipping, etc. I believe in doing core work every day that I workout. I don’t have any specific rejuvenation program. I am trying to incorporate some static post workout stretches in m y workout too. My coach gives me either 3 to 5 workouts to do a week, and I do some light cross training (stationary bike mostly) about two days a week for fitness and active rest. I make sure that I have at least one complete day of rest.