What should you do if you keep getting slower?

Valentin Belz 6. February 2020

Athletes of all performance levels are aware of this problem: despite zealous training, the performance capability progressively declines.

Whereas a few years ago, the running distances could still be easily covered in one hour or the half marathon in under 2 hours, today this is only possible, if at all, at a significantly higher heart rate and with great willpower. The reasons for this are manifold and range from an age-related decline in VO2max to fat gain to social factors.

Performance knows no expiry date

The good news: it is never too late to counterbalance this, because the ability to train does not diminish. The effect of training for a 60- or 70-year-old is the same as for a 20-year-old. Only the recovery time and performance capability change with increasing age. It is therefore all the more important to coordinate and plan your training, recovery and diet well. Otherwise the alleged gain will become a loss due to overloading.

With the following tips, you can slow down the process or even change course:

  1. Accept the actual conditions
    Between the age of 25 and 70, the VO2max declines each decade by eight to ten percent and by four to five percent with continued training. However, you cannot influence the natural ageing process, so focus on that which you have at your fingertips: strength training and specific training.
  2. Sensible training plan
    Targeted training with specific coordinated training stimuli is necessary to maximise your performance capability. In this way you will get the most out of your capabilities!
  3. More is not more
    A training unit can only be effective if it is followed by sufficient recovery time. You therefore need to particularly make sure that you give enough weight to recovery!
  4. No vitality without strength
    Strength is absolutely crucial when it comes to maximising your limits and protecting yourself against the occurring forces. Therefore, invest time in strength training twice a week!
  5. Multi-sport training
    The heart makes no difference whether it is running, swimming or cycling. Especially the basic endurance can be trained very effectively with alternative sports to protect the locomotor system.
  6. Increase wisely
    Restraint is called for when increasing your training volume. If you increase your running distance by more than ten percent, you run the risk of short or long-term injuries. Always increase your training frequency first, then the duration, and only the intensity at the very end!
  7. Skilfully divide up your races
    When competing in races, choose a realistic running speed right from the start and not your desired speed or that of earlier days. Because if you start (too) quickly, you will notably get tired quickly!