When an amateur athlete asks me to train them I send a form to be filled out to provide me with any useful information. I want to understand, in a few lines, who they are as a person and then as an athlete. Even the way they compose this simple questionnaire give me some hint to their personality. The number of written words or the choice of verbs and adjectives helps me to understand their personality.
I want to know about their past, present and future. What sports did they practice in their youth? Have they always been active or was there a long period of work or study sitting at a desk? How did you train last week? What is their goal in the near (or far) future?
All this information tells me where they have been, where they are now and what they hope to achieve in the future.
Lately I have received a lot of requests from people that used to run. After a break of a certain number of years they’ve decided to take up running again but they can’t run as fast as they used to. So they send me a letter to get my expertise advise and training. But the answer is quite easy and obvious: nine times out of ten the problem lies in the age gap.
Here’s an example: the other day a 54-year-old gentleman sent me the answers to the questionnaire. I’ll share three important Q&A’s with you below:
Past: what is your PB in the marathon distance and what year did you obtain it?
Answer: 3:42:46 in 2008
Present: List all the workouts you’ve completed since last week.
Answer: None, I'm not running at the moment.
Future: What’s your goal?
Answer: To run a marathon under 3:30:00.
Do you also see where the problem is? It's really hard to get ex-athletes understand that after ten years they may not be able to get the same race times they were capable of when they were 20, 30 or 40 years old. But now I have found a way to communicate it to them better. I send them to the "age equivalents" calculator on the Marathon Guide website.
In the first module you enter the distance and race time along with your age when you ran it. I entered the 54 year old ex-athlete as an example. Today that same race would be equivalent of a 4:00:18 ten years later.
We mature, hormones change, along with our posture running style. A slowdown is only natural but shouldn’t discourage us. Maybe the new time for your current age will inspire you to get running again. Or it could be that ten years ago you never reached your peak form and now you can still give it a go.
Enter in your data and see what results the computer will gives you. Then, get moving anyway with those workouts because you can still have fun at any age.