Study Finds, Elite Runner Women’s Pace is First to Decline

All marathon runners eventually slow down. But, a new study finds that whether a runner is average or elite, or whether they are a man or a woman, may determine at what age and how much their pace will decline.

The researchers reviewed 2001-2016 data from three of the largest U.S. marathons — Boston, Chicago and New York City.

“We found that marathon performance decline begins at about 35 years old,” said study lead author Dr. Gerald Zavorsky, of Georgia State University. “For top runners, we determined the slowdown is about 2 minutes per year beginning at age 35 for men. And for women, it’s actually a little bit statistically faster of a slowdown, around 2 minutes and 30 seconds per year beginning at the age of 35,” Zavorsky said in a university news release.

He is an associate professor in the university’s department of respiratory therapy. The researchers also found that marathoners aged 25 to 34 had the fastest times, with overall champion males at 28.3 years old and overall champion females at 30.8 years of age.

However, people with “average” marathon times don’t see a big impact on their performance until later in life, the findings showed.

“If you’re an average runner finishing in the middle of your age group, statistically the slowdown starts at age 50. It’s similar if you’re a man or woman. The decline with aging in average runners is around 2 minutes and 45 seconds per year beginning at age 50,” Zavorsky said.

The researchers suspect the reason that average runners see a decline later in life is that they likely started running later in life.

“Elite athletes realize their potential when they’re young, and they’re able to maximize that potential when they’re young. But average runners might not realize their potential until they’re a lot older and by that time physiological aging comes in. They try to reach their maximum potential, but they’re trying to reach it at a much older age and their ceiling for improvement is not as high,” Zavorsky suggested.

The rate of marathon performance decline between ages 35 and 74 is fairly steady, and female age-group winners have a 27 second per year larger decline than male age-group winners, according to the study. Although you might never reach elite status if you start running in your 50s, the researchers don’t want to discourage older people from getting involved in marathons.

“If you’re an older person and you want to pick up marathon running, yes you can still improve because you’ve just now begun running. There’s always room for improvement, but physiologically, you were probably at your prime somewhere between 25 and 34 years old,” Zavorsky said.

“But people who are older can still train to achieve personal goals and get the health benefits of exercise, such as lower blood pressure, lower blood cholesterol and enhanced psychological well-being,” he added.

The study was published online recently in the journal PLoS ONEblog picture of a green button with a phone receiver icon and 24h underneath

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Additional Topics: Preventing Sports Injuries

Many athletes largely depend on chiropractic care to enhance their physical performance. New research studies have determined that aside from maintaining overall health and wellness, chiropractic can also help prevent sports injuries. Chiropractic is an alternative treatment option utilized by athletes to improve their strength, mobility and flexibility. Spinal adjustments and manual manipulations performed by a chiropractor can also help correct spinal issues, speeding up an athlete’s recovery process to help them return-to-play as soon as possible.

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Dr Alexander Jimenez ♛
Chiropractor💡 Author • Researcher • Clinician @ PUSH-as-Rx® 915-850-0900 📞
Hello and Welcome 👊🏻.
Purpose & Passions: I am a Doctor of Chiropractic specializing in progressive cutting-edge therapies and functional rehabilitation procedures focused on total health, strength training and complete conditioning. We focus on restoring normal body functions after neck, back, spinal and soft tissue injuries. We take a global physiological treatment approach in order to regain total functional health.

We use Specialized Chiropractic Techniques, Balanced Diet Plans, Agility Training programs, Cross-Fit techniques, the PUSH-Rx Rehabilitation System and a highly specialized program for our Veterans.

We’ve been blessed to perfect our methods with thousand of El Pasoans over the last 26 years. This has allowed us to improve health and restore true fitness through researched methods and total wellness programs. These programs are natural and use the body’s own ability to achieve goals of improvement, rather than introducing harmful chemicals, controversial hormone replacement, surgery, or addictive drugs. We want you to live a life that is fulfilled with more energy, positive attitude, better sleep, less pain, proper body weight and educated on how to maintain this way of life.

As an extension to dynamic rehabilitation, we also offer our patients, disabled veterans, athletes, young and elder a diverse portfolio of strength equipment, high performance exercises and advanced agility options. We are very proud to have teamed up with the cities premier therapist and trainers in order to provide high level competitive athletes the option to push themselves to their highest abilities within our facility.

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