Fast After 40: Master Your Recovery

Recovery gets more important the older you get.

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Recovery gets more important the older you get.
Recovery gets more important the older you get. Photo: FCG/


It’s not the training we do that counts; it’s the training from which we can recover. Training provides a stimulus (our workouts) that triggers an adaptation: better fitness. But that adaptation doesn’t happen overnight. Rush the process, and you invite overtraining syndrome, along with the impaired performance and injuries that accompany it.

“I was once asked to write a scientific article on overtraining,” says coach Jack Daniels, whose book Daniels’ Running Formula has been called the Bible of the sport. “My response was that’s the simplest article ever. It’s two words long: Avoid it.”

Overtraining in younger athletes generally results from an extended period of running too hard, too long, or a combination of both. In masters runners, a single instance of two hard workouts in a row without adequate recovery can do the same. That’s because aging slows healing in muscles and connective tissue, reduces some hormonal production (including Growth Hormone [GH or HGH], which activates fitness adaptation), and is inevitably accompanied by a loss in nervous system efficiency. Blast your body while it’s still struggling to recover from a previous workout, and we masters don’t bend, we break.

MORE FAST AFTER 40: Master Your Stride

Depressed? Don’t be. There’s no reason masters runners can’t train and race hard. It’s just that we can’t pay lip service to recovery, the way we sometimes did when we were younger. We need a plan. And it should start with the following three strategies.


About The Author: 

Pete Magill is the fastest-ever American age 50+ at 5K (15:01) and 10K (31:11), the 2013 USA Masters Cross Country Runner of the Year, and the author of Build Your Running Body (The Experiment, 2014). Learn more about Pete at his website,