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Running getting worse with age

I am past 50 and since I hit that number my Pace has got worse. Now I've never been fast but I could run 3 miles without stopping. But now I can barely run a quarter of that.  Besides aging, I haven't gained any weight. So I'm asking is anyone else having this problem?

21 Replies

I'm 63 and have just started to try to run again after years of not running but I do 60 to 80 miles on a bicycle a week.

If you get winded and out of breath, simply slow down.   To get better you just need to go fast enough for an elevated heart rate.  Mix it up.  Let the HR drop to 100 then up to 140 for a minute of whatever then slow down. but keep the HR elevated to a moderate level what ever you can sustain.  A good test that you are running a sustainable pace is that you can talk out loud in short sentences.  Try talking to yourself. If you can't then slow down.  Really do it, speak loud enough using your real voice as a test.

To get better you need to do the time.  What matters is the number of minutes at this HR.  The speed does not matter at all.  Minutes of moderately elevated HR matters more.    Perhaps walking uphill is enough?     Do this and speed will take care of itself in some months.

The worst thing is to run 10 or 15 minutes too fast then quit for the week.   Better to do 30 to 60 at a slower pace and work for 120 or 200 minutes per week, even it it means only fast walking.

As we get older we lose strength fast if we don't use it.  Muscle mass can plummet if not used for 3 weeks so the workout drill has to change to being slow and steady and don't stop, just slow down but add in the minute per week.    Young men are fast but at 50 you are looking to do endurance sports now.

The OTHER test for over training is if you legs are sore the next day, the is a good thing.  If they are sore on the second day after a run you need to cut down and do less.   Never run two days in a row.   You get stronger when you rest.     Again: sore the nest day is fine, sore fort day, you are over training.   At 50+ overturning is totally counter productive.

My problem is my knee.  Could run much faster but 4 miles at a slow pace last night my knew is sore this morning.  I ran up the hills and walked downhill and kept it slow.   I think I my have to stick with cycling


Hi teddiemao! I am 58, so I know a little about what you are up against. I'm not super fast either, but I can still hammer out a six-mile daily run and an occasional 14 mile trail run.

In my experience, form has been a life-saver. Check out some of the many youtube vids that you find using the search term "natural running." The basics are easy:

1. Run tall, no slouching. Shoulders back.

2. Don't over-stride. Land with your knee bent, your foot under your weight - not out in front of you.

3. Keep your hands to your sides, elbows back behind you.

Don't quit yet!  🙂


Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Hi @teddiemao - It sounds like you have been running for a while and are now experiencing some issues being able to run the way you have in the past. While it is expected that your pace as you age may increase I have friends in their late 60s and 70s who continue to run regularly and while their paces have slowed a little they still make me envious. 

So if you have been running a while and now are having issues completing even a portion of your normal distance, I would first get a check up with your doctor, explain what you are experiencing and make sure there is no underlying heart or other issue. I knew I had a very low HR and that it would be a problem eventually. I started having symptoms similar to yours where I couldn't run far at all because my heart couldn't keep up with what was being demanded on a run. I had a pacemaker implanted last year and now I am back running normally again (note I am 65).

If there are no issues I would go back to your normal base building plan and/or maybe try a run/walk method (Jeff Galloway has a lot about this).

Also make sure you are getting plenty of rest. As I have gotten older I have found I can't run everyday the way I used to, so I take an active rest day between runs and do other training. And after a HM or other race it also takes me longer to recover.

61, can't ride a bike anymore without hurting myself for days.

It's not what I can't do, it's what I can do. Perhaps you need to pick up a new hobby. Perhaps you need to try an old hobby and reinvigorate it.

The hard part is giving up the runner's High. That's the addiction, and the loss you are feeling. I felt that very deeply when I had to give up skiing downhill, and quickly afterwards all snow activities.

I also felt that powerful adrenaline High tempered with steely calmness when I used to climb free solo, but I haven't even been on a rope in 20 years. Life changes. Adapt. Good luck.

Bike riding usually is one of the sports you can continue to do because you are not supporting your body weight on your legs. 

I happen to live near the ocean (I can walk to the beach) so I got into scuba diving a while back.   That is a sport anyone can do.  More then a few divers are obese and very round-looking but after they jump off the boat they become weightless in the water.    I good diver tries hard to not expend much energy and keep the breathing and heart rate as low as possible.  Even to the point of not moving the arm quickly to look at the wrist-mounted computer.  Every tiny motion uses up air.  Even breathing requires effort so you learn to do that slowly.

I've had a double handful of musculoskeletal injuries. Even with that I remain active. I climbed a mountain last week with 2000 vertical feet of elevation and decided not to run down it, which is the first time I've chosen not to run down it when not nursing an injury. I'll usually run down three of the four miles.

Injuries to back, neck and both hands eliminated bike riding for me. I'm glad I can still walk, particularly uphill and off Trail. I love climbing mountains still. It's one of the things I can still do in the face of numerous injuries and a handful of medical conditions including getting over covid-19.

Go with what you got has been my motto since I broke my back at 18 and the doctors told me that I would never walk right, never run, and not to think about skiing again. Since that time I made a living working outside, skiing, carrying a backpack full of field gear, and numerous other ways of making a living with my body, including being a massage therapist and alternative healer. Go with what you've got.

While still in my prime at Lake Tahoe the boyfriend of one of my hiking pals really enjoyed food, adult beverages, and had numerous other bad habits. He weighed somewhere approaching 250 lb on an average frame. He said his two favorite sports were scuba diving and skydiving. Both required skill but not much athletic endurance was required.

Have you considered traditional or alternative medical Care? You could have underlying health issues. Most people do not produce as many endocrine hormones at 50 as they did at 20, for example. 

Thank you for all the advice.  I am going to keep going.

I am 84 and have been active all my life - running (4 marathons), climbing and cycling, and I can tell you, you will lose physical capabilities eventually.  But I am really glad I was active in my younger days because today I am in reasonably good basic health, attributed to the earlier active life style.  I still hike regularly, but my pace is about one half of what it was just a few years ago....

Do as much as you can for as long as you can and enjoy the benefits!!

I would also say that with advancing age comes more visits to the doctor.  if you haven't already, get a good primary care doctor and see hi'm or her regularly.  I would be pushing up daisies now if I hadn't done this.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.