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Age Up! How To Own Your Age Group

Aging up isn't so bad. Find out the pros and cons to each age group.

Ah, birthdays. No matter if you love or hate them (or love to hate them) runners celebrating milestone birthdays can be happy about one thing—aging up! No matter which age group you are entering, it can provide a fresh start and a whole new outlook on racing, running and bling. Plus, you will once again be the youngster of the age group for a few blissful years.

Let’s take a look at how runners of all ages can shape up as they enter a new decade.

Age Group 20-29

Take advantage of: Your youth! Your twenties can be some of your best running years, where a good training base is made. Take all the lessons learned from high school and apply them to your ever-changing racing body. Your mind is sharp, and your heart is young and healthy. It’s mostly about having fun. With just a tad of extra work, you can probably run away with an age-group win in your local 5K.

Proceed with caution: You may feel like you can party all night and then wake up and hit the track—but it doesn’t mean that’s a good idea. Now is the time to start paying attention to your diet and hydration. Healthy habits made in your 20s will go a long way in your next decade!

Average NYC marathon finish time: Women 4:36, Men 4:08

RELATED: For Best Results, Train Your Age

Age Group 30-39

Take advantage of: Anything you can! This decade can be the toughest and most competitive. Women, in particular, hit their running stride in their 30s, have children (which can make a mama come back stronger!) and have more knowledge about how to train. This is your running prime, so take full advantage and dream big!

Proceed with caution: Don’t be too hard on yourself. Transitioning from your 20s to your 30s can come with a lot of life changes and possibly greater responsibilities, which could mean less time for running. Do what you can, when you can. Start adding strength training too. You will need it for the coming decade.

Average NYC marathon finish time: Women 4:41, Men 4:11

Age Group 40-49

Take advantage of: Being older and wiser—and having fewer people to compete against! After an entire decade of super competitive running, you can relax a bit more in this decade. Use what you have learned over the past 10-20 years to win some age-group races.

Proceed with caution: If you didn’t heed the strength training warning in your 30s, chances are an injury will force you in that direction now. Your aging body needs the extra boost that weights and strength training bring. The more time you spend strengthening, stretching and resting your body, the longer you should be able to keep running!

Average NYC marathon finish time: Women 4:44, Men 4:15

RELATED: Wise Tips From Masters Runners On Staying Fit And Injury-Free

Age Group 50-59

Take advantage of: Your experiences—and use that knowledge to your advantage. This may be the decade of decreasing speed, muscle and endurance, so you may want to consider longer training cycles or shorter racing distances. Most of all, be proud you’re still out there getting it done!

Proceed with caution: This is the decade for balanced training. It’s most important to stay upright and injury-free. Continuing a strength-training routine is key to combating bone loss and the reduction of muscle mass that comes with this decade.

Average NYC marathon finish time: Women 5:00, Men 4:27

Age Group 60 and Beyond

Take advantage of: You have beaten the odds and are still running! In smaller races, you’re sure to earn some bling in your age group, as well as motivate so many other (younger) runners by showing them how it’s done!

Proceed with caution: Pretty much all of the above applies through this decade. Strength and balance training are key! Your body has carried you through years of running, so take time to reflect and appreciate that before your next race.

Average NYC marathon finish time: Women 5:30, Men 5:01

RELATED: The Case For High-Intensity Training For Older Runners