Paula Radcliffe Says She Gets Better with AgePosted on Nov 2nd 2009 11:00AM by Holly St. Lifer
Filed Under: Fitness
Conventional thought has us believing the aging process is all downhill, but not so according to three-time ING New York City Marathon winner Paula Radcliffe. "In some ways you get better with age," she told BBC Sport last week. "Things like endurance and mental strength, if anything, get stronger."
On the eve of her thirty-sixth birthday, Radcliffe managed to place fourth yesterday in the race's fortieth running despite inflammation in her right hamstring that had her sidelined for two weeks leading up to the event. Meb Keflezighi, the men's winner is 34. The women's race was won by 37 year-old Ethiopian Derartu Tulu.
"Unlike a young athlete, the older veteran has already logged all those long distance miles over the years so she's got the solid aerobic base. She doesn't have to put in the high volume of miles any more," says Pete McCall an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise.
Besides cumulative physical conditioning, maturity also brings a greater knowledge of the sport and better developed skills. "Older athletes acquire a mental database of which tactics work and which don't." says Jonathan Cane, a New York City-based triathlon and long distance trainer. "They also know more about their body and what it can and can't do. They train smarter, not harder. Of course there are times when youthful exuberance and ignorance wins out over wisdom and experience, and all the mental toughness won't make up for physiological deterioration, but that is more the exception than the rule."
This was certainly evidenced yesterday. Keflezighi won the men's race in a personal-best time of 2:09:15. 41-year-old Lyudmila Petrova of Russia placed second amongst the women and the third-place finisher Christelle Daunay of France is 34.Even for non-elites research has shown that being physically active is a fountain of youth. It boosts mental clarity and heart function, and reduces stress, muscle loss and the risk of numerous diseases such as arthritis, diabetes and cancer. Your best bet: interval training. "It builds endurance and strength without putting undue wear and tear on your body," says McCall.
Read how 37-year-old and seven-time Tour de France champ Lance Armstrong and 43-year-old, three-time silver medalist Dara Torres keep time on their side.