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Old 07-17-2010, 08:24 PM   #1
Chris Ross
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endurance and age

Hi

a friend of mine just participated in an ultramarathon event, 96km in mountainous bush terrain. I was part of the support crew bringing food, water etc.

While waiting at the finish line I noticed that for most (85%+) of the top teams the average age of particpants was at least 38-45 years old.

So now I'm wondering why it wasn't the young folk?

I know that power, speed and to a certain extent strength diminish with age but does endurance last much longer? Or could there be another reason for so many ppl in middle age to blitz the field?
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Old 07-17-2010, 10:51 PM   #2
S.S.
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Re: endurance and age

Good question.

A lot of those people competed in 5k's, 10k's, and marathons when they were younger. People tend to lose max speed as they get older, so they "graduate" onto longer distances, so to speak. Some people find it easier to run slow forever than to run fast for a short time as they get older. Max speed isn't very important in ultramarathons.
This is one of the reasons you won't see many older people competing in track events or Olympic weightlifting meets. Max speed and power diminish as you get older. Strength and endurance don't as much.

Ultras take a lot of training time, a lot of which can be boring, which makes it less appealing to younger generations I suppose. Experience and patience help a lot in completing an ultra, and older people are more likely to have those qualities. People who are cooped up in offices all week find it exciting to go out and hit the trails for hours at a time on the weekends.

I also read an interesting article by a psychologist who said that older women who never had children have a "childbirth envy" and subconsciously seek to endure painful events as they get older. Who knows if it's true.

Most of the big name ultrarunners are in their 30s, some in their 40s, and a few in their 50s. However there are also some elite level young guys like Anton Krupica (26) and Kyle and Eric Skaggs (25 and 28).

Last edited by S.S.; 07-17-2010 at 10:54 PM..
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Old 07-18-2010, 01:04 AM   #3
Chris Ross
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Re: endurance and age

thanks for the reply, makes sense.

on another note (and i may flag these on CFE to get some opinions) but i noticed that a HEAP of competitors were using over the counter pain killers during the event. is this normal?

Isn't it a form of cheating?
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Old 07-18-2010, 07:38 AM   #4
Todd Rehm
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Re: endurance and age

Cheating in sports is defined with respect to the rules that govern that sport. If there's no rule about on-course use of pain relievers or anti-inflammatories, it is not cheating. I've never heard of a rule against this.
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Old 07-18-2010, 07:38 AM   #5
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Re: endurance and age

Why would it be cheating?

Painkillers are pretty common, some people refer to them as "vitamin I" for ibuprofen. They definitely help when things hurt, although I try to avoid them as long as possible. They can cause some serious stomach issues.
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Old 07-19-2010, 02:00 AM   #6
Chris Ross
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Re: endurance and age

i guess i don't meant cheating in the literal sense, and yes you're right there was no specific rule against it.

I guess i mean it just seems wrong. If you need to use painkillers to get through the event then have you really gotten through it on your own steam, and unassisted. I would liken it to the lifting suits that are used in powerlifting events.

At the end of the day, I guess the question I would be asking myself is 'had I not been on the pain killers, would I have still been able to cross the finish line'. If the answer was no, then personally i would rather not compete at all and choose more manageable races instead. Just my opinion, glad to hear others
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Old 07-20-2010, 07:08 PM   #7
Jonathan Yoon
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Re: endurance and age

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Originally Posted by Chris Ross View Post
At the end of the day, I guess the question I would be asking myself is 'had I not been on the pain killers, would I have still been able to cross the finish line'. If the answer was no, then personally i would rather not compete at all and choose more manageable races instead. Just my opinion, glad to hear others
If you needed pain killers, you needed pain killers. Things hurt (muscles, tendons, and bones) and things get hurt (tripping/falling) during an event. After you cross the finish line, you figure out what you did wrong and then adjust your training accordingly. You don't quit on the event unless it's not your passion.
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Old 07-21-2010, 02:02 AM   #8
Chris Ross
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Re: endurance and age

i agree quitting during the event would be a no-no. What i'm talking about is ppl pre-emptively using pain killers prior to and during the race.

just seems like a crutch to me
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Old 07-21-2010, 01:35 PM   #9
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Re: endurance and age

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Originally Posted by Chris Ross View Post
i agree quitting during the event would be a no-no. What i'm talking about is ppl pre-emptively using pain killers prior to and during the race.

just seems like a crutch to me
It is a crutch. But it doesn't make it wrong or unfair to use. If I train for something and I'm feeling pain prior to my event, I'm not going to just blow off the event unless I know that the pain is something that will create a bigger issue for me later. This goes back to your "wearing lifting suits" answer or to put it in a CF-reference, wearing those knee-high socks to compress your calves.
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Old 07-21-2010, 01:47 PM   #10
Lincoln Brigham
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Re: endurance and age

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So now I'm wondering why it wasn't the young folk?
The 38-45 age group have the money and the time for this sort of thing and their bodies are still young enough to handle it. Folks in the twenties and early thirties don't have the time or money.

In a lot of Masters sports the "empty-nester" age group is usuallly the most fiercely competitive and popular age group.
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