How much improvement after 40?

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I've really been giving this a lot of thought over the past year. Started running four years ago. Have made year-over-year improvements, but being 40 now, I'm wondering at what point will the improvements stop? I'd love to be able to eventually do a sub-1:30 HM and be able to BQ a full at 3:15. Here are some benchmark races I've done multiple times to get a apples-to-apples comparison.

Benchmark 5K:
2010 29:00
2011 28:02 (had double ear infection though)
2012 24:40
2013 21:56

Benchmark HM:
2012 1:48:09
2013 1:42:16

Replies

  • PeteWhoLikesToRunAlot
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    C'mon, someone throw me a bone here - tell me I won't get all elderly and slow for a while!
  • bert16
    bert16 Posts: 725 Member
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    I'm with ya, Pete... I'm hoping there's hope for improvement this side of 40, too! Hoping someone smarter than me responds here... if not, maybe you and I can get a two for one deal at the geriatric runners home... :laugh:
  • ZenInTexas
    ZenInTexas Posts: 781 Member
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    I have read that with consistent training you can make gains for 7 years and then it levels off. I don't know how true that is. However, 40 is not old when it comes to running, if you look at stuff like Ironman competitions there are tons of competitors in that age group who are kicking *kitten*. So I don't think you're ready for the old folks home quite yet.:wink:
  • RunnerElizabeth
    RunnerElizabeth Posts: 1,091 Member
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    Sorry, can't help you Pete. I'm only 35, so plenty of time to achieve my potential!

    Seriously though, you aren't eldery yet! I think you have plenty of time. Now I can't site this, or remember where I heard it (it was likely NPR) but I remember hearing somewhere that we have until our 60s to achieve in running what we would have been capable of at 18. And then after that it starts to decrease, but not by as much as you would think. Of course, I could have dreamt this up, but I like to think it's true.

    Another thing I've read is that as we age (specfically after 40), sleep becomes a more important factor in resting and repairing our bodies after running, so you may want to work on that.
  • CarsonRuns
    CarsonRuns Posts: 3,039 Member
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    I am 45 and still getting faster. Just put in the work and you will improve.
  • bert16
    bert16 Posts: 725 Member
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    I am 45 and still getting faster. Just put in the work and you will improve.

    Yeah, Carson - but, as near as I can tell, you're not human. :wink:
  • mjpTennis
    mjpTennis Posts: 6,165 Member
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    43 and still getting faster. Gotta believe it is the work you put in. Good luck.
  • schmenge55
    schmenge55 Posts: 745 Member
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    56 and still getting PRs so it is possible. :)
  • sjohnny
    sjohnny Posts: 56,142 Member
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    I just turned 41 yesterday and I'm still getting faster but I've only been running for a little less than two years. A friend of mine is a year older than I am and gets faster every year and he's been running for 6 or 7 years at least including a buttload of marathons.
  • atsteele
    atsteele Posts: 1,358 Member
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    I'm 46yo and still getting faster each year. I obtained my first first-place in my age group at a local 5k race this year. And I'm hoping to finally (finally!!) qualify for Boston marathon this Fall. What can I say? I'm a late bloomer. :)
  • davemunger
    davemunger Posts: 1,139 Member
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    46 here. Here's my half-marathon PR chronology:

    2006: 1:51
    2010: 1:42
    2011: 1:33
    2012: 1:31
    2013: 1:26

    I'm hoping to break 1:25 this fall, which should qualify me for guaranteed entry to the New York Marathon. It can be done!
  • KyleB65
    KyleB65 Posts: 1,196 Member
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    I am 48 and still adding distance and improving times. Ran my first marathon yesterday and already planning my next and how to improve the time! I would say that you have years of potential improvement left! In fact I BELIEVE you have years of improvement as I believe that I have years of improvement left!
  • DavidMartinez2
    DavidMartinez2 Posts: 840 Member
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    Consistent training is the key to improvements. I broke 3 hours for a full for the first time after turning 40 and I finished a minute behind another 40+ year old who broke 3 hours for his first time.

    I'm hoping to break 1:25 this fall, which should qualify me for guaranteed entry to the New York Marathon. It can be done!

    I didn't know the Half Marathon standard was 1:25, that is my goal time for my November half.
  • davemunger
    davemunger Posts: 1,139 Member
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    I didn't know the Half Marathon standard was 1:25, that is my goal time for my November half.

    That's the standard for men 45-49. Here's the full list:

    http://www.ingnycmarathon.org/how-to-qualify.html

    Unfortunately thanks to hurricane Sandy you're not actually guaranteed an entry even if you meet the standard...they give priority to folks meeting the standard in NYRR events. Also, make sure your course is record-eligible. If the course is a net-downhill or the start is too far from the finish line it won't count.

    Nice job on the sub-3. I haven't even come close to that in a full marathon.
  • mlb929
    mlb929 Posts: 1,974 Member
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    I read an article last week that a new runner improves for 7 years if you start out as "average" regardless of age. if you start off slower, then you can improve for more than 7 years. I've been running for 3 years now and have significant improvements off my times, I've taken 15 minutes off my half an am hoping for another 5 minutes in a coming race.