Five Questions (Part 3 of 5): Caleb Masland

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This is part 3 of a  special Five Questions interview with someone I admire greatly.  Caleb Masland is, by all accounts, an incredible running coach and one hell of a runner. His story is one that speaks to runners at all levels.  His ability to recover from knee injury to full strength and speed (1:10 half marathon and 2:30 marathon!) is inspiring. And I hope to one day follow in his coaching footsteps.  (Click his name above for his full bio.)  You should follow him on facebook and twitter.  You can find him on Instagram at Caleb Masland, as well as follow posts on Twitter and Instagram by members of  his team with the hashtag #TeamWickedBonkproof.  He publishes a daily coaching tip that I often include in my five links for the day.  He is a connection well worth making.

I’ll be 47 in April.  So I am well into what we would call “Masters” running.  So as I age, even though I am fitter than I’ve ever been, and eat healthier than ever, I must remain cognizant of the changes in my body as I train for marathons and beyond.  What I did with Caleb is ask him a series of questions about the masters runner.  How does one coach a masters runner?  What changes should masters runners expect?  And so on.  Since these are lengthy, I decided to post one Q&A each day this week.  I hope you enjoy. Many thanks to Caleb for doing this.

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3) There are two types of masters runners: 1)those who have run all of their life and move in to a new phase of their life but with all the benefits of a life spent running; and 2)those who are recent to this sport for fitness and health and a newfound love of running, like me.  Obviously there are different approaches for each type of master runner, and maybe you could speak to those.  Specifically the marathon.  For example, would marathon training cycles be shorter?  Fewer double run days, if any? A cap on the mileage of the long run?

I would even break out a third category: Post-professional or post-elite runners who are now elite masters runners. These people, because of their genetics, tend to still have adaptation and recovery rates that rival younger runners, and so they can generally train like they did when younger, so long as they integrate enough strength, mobility, and “pre-hab” work to keep their body functioning.

 From what I have seen in coaching runners of various experience levels, I actually see that late-comers tend to be able to attack training a bit more than their more seasoned contemporaries. I think of this in terms of chronological age versus running age. For example, take 2 male runners, age 45, who have a recent marathon time of 3:30. Runner A has been running marathons for 15 years (since age 30), and Runner B has been running marathons for 2 years. I would expect that runner B would respond more quickly to a harder training session and adapt more quickly than Runner A, because they have a much younger “Running Age” and therefore a greater capacity for improvement due to training stress. The runner with the older running age may have already gotten close to their genetic potential, and they are more likely to have lingering structural issues from more training over time (a bad knee, recurring tendinitis, and the like).
Of course, in practice, each runner is different from all others, and the training program should be tailored to a runner’s strengths and weaknesses, history and goals. But, there is a good reason we see a number of late-comers suddenly tearing it up: They likely had a good genetic makeup for running all along, and their early success in their masters career has just fueled their desire to run and train hard.
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