Training - starting seriously at age 28

Has anyone else started training seriously in their very late 20's - if so how far did you manage to progress. I'd like to think it's not too late for me to do something good if I put my mind to it?

Im reasonably fit from playing football still and I've had a sub-19 minute 5k before, and a runner's build so I have a reasonable start.

Tipp-Topp I noticed on another thread that you are 31/32 and have only been doing it for 3 years - how have you progressed in this time?



  • BirchBirch ✭✭✭
    Andy, JJ is spot on - I started from a pub football background at age 31, and ran marathon PB at 36, and 10K pb at 39. 
  • Andy,

    Can't comment from my own perspective (still only 21 and been in the sport 13 years!) but from that I can tell you that lots of people start much much later than you do and can get to pretty much any level.

    In particular would reference you to this chap who started training at 29 I think...
    and this chap only started running I think even later!

    Whilst in reality if you'd started athletics earlier you would probably have a slightly faster time at the end of it - in all reality it'd probably only be a few seconds faster and you're now coming to the sport fully developed and with probably less likelihood of injury (and a more sensible head on your shoulders!) - if you want to be serious get involved with an athletics club or a more serious running club with other athletes to push you on.

    As a rough guide, as a 28 year old man, with reasonable fitness and already having a sub 19 5k to your name I'd have thought you would be able to look at getting down to sub 17 minutes for 5k and 35/36 minutes for 10k but beyond that it gets a bit more talent or willingess to put in the hard work related.

    Any questions am happy to answer- just email me through my profile and might be able to help you with local clubs etc.
  • Andy: All the best mate.

     Go for it and get out of it as much as you can.

  • Thanks for the replies and the encouragement guys, very helpful. BIRCH - what were those PB's - and how did they compare to the times you were running when you were 31/32?

    Hobbling Harrier - interestingly the times you mentioned are roughly what I thought I should be aiming for, so that's very helpful. The sub-19 5k is my only race time and was done from limited training (12 or so miles per week) (I was only 21 though!) so that's why I thought with some proper training I could bring that down quite quickly.

    I did start training last summer (was told by a doctor to start running to build up strength after a broken ankle) but gave up after about 12 weeks. This time I'm going to register for a race in July/August to give myself something to go for Even though the time won't be great I guess it will be a good indicator of where I'm starting from.

  • TippTopTippTop ✭✭✭

    Hi Andy.

    I just turned 32 at the end of January.

    Essentially I started back running in January '07 (used to run as a kid, but gave up just before turning 17). I was very overweight when I started, but the initial weight loss was quite quick. I ran my first HM after 6 weeks (1:34), another one 6 weeks later (1:28), and after the second one thought that if I was going to do it I should do it properly and joined a club around the end of April/start of May. Then I started to build up the mileage a bit and ran the New Forest Marathon in Sept (2:55). I finished out the year with a 10k pb of 36:40, HM of 1:23:35 and Mara of 2:55:46.

    During my first year of running I realised that I can manage a reasonably high level of mileage (peak week for the year was just over 128, average was 48 - first couple of months were low, hence why the average was lower, the average for the 3 months before my first mara was ~70 I think). I also realised that within my club I am viewed as a bit of an oddity because I do a bit of mileage, so if you can are willing to do a reasonable amount of mileage and can manage it without getting injured you'll automatically have an advantage over a lot of club runners.

    During my second year of running I got my 10k time down to 34:17, HM down to 74:17, and mara down to 2:35:48. This was down to consistently higher mileage, and later in the year, more structured training.

    This is my third year of running. I have been plagued with problems so far this year unfortunately, though, I hasten to add, not typically linked to running. At the start of the year my main aim was to get down to sub-2:20 shape ahead of the Dublin Marathon in October. Whether that is possible depends on me getting a bit of a break luck-wise as I have been very unlucky so far. The key though to future advancement is consistently high mileage (am quite comfortable knocking out in advance of 110mpw) and good structure. As to how far can you go starting late? I really don't think, within reason, that age has much to do with it.

    The sub-3 thread is littered with late starters who have gone further than me (marders and Marigold to name 2) and who I hope to emulate (and eventually pass).

    Only advice I would give is train hard, don't put limits on yourself and see where it gets you.

    Also, if you want to email me and ask anything else, feel free. I hope some of that helped.

  • Tipp-Topp - that's brilliant, thanks. Judging by your mileage I guess you must be out there quite early in the mornings? I'm terrible dragging myself out of bed, but I do run quite happily in the mornings once I'm out there!

  • BirchBirch ✭✭✭

    Hi Andy - to answer your query - my first Mara was 1986 Sheffield in 4:14 ( didn't know what I was doing really) !!  1987 Sheffield 3:01 (after joining club and learning a bit about training). 1988 London 2:59 ...............   eventually PB'd at London 1991 - 2:46:00 . My half mara PB was set in 1990 - 1:15:58 - this was after my highest/hardest traing period Avg 70mpw over 3 months, highest 102 miles in 8 days. (High for me, but lower than many, I know). This was for a mara PB attempt in Rotterdam which went badly wrong, but 3 weeks later the training gave me the half PB, so not wasted. 10K PB was 1994 (at age 39) - 34:58 - after a few low 35's finally broke the sub - 35 mark.  Probably unusual, as the conventional wisdom is that speed goes before endurance. Still going at age 54, although injury has hampered me the last few years - managed 3:15:50 at last year FLM off 8 weeks and 2 week taper.

    Can't add much to Tipp-Topp's wise words re training - just do as much as you can - pay attention to key elements - Mara Pace runs, tempo, longer repeats etc. You may surprise yourself. 

    As a footnote - if anyone of roughly my years/background can offer any advice regards maintaining performance whilst managing injury niggles, I would be glad to hear ...   I still think I can get back to at least 3:05 ish (or is this wishful thinking) ..........  

  • Andy

    I started running aged 28 and after 6 months of training twice a week ran 1:49 for a HM.  Fast forward 6 years and I've just run 1:24:53 at HM.  If I'd been more consistent in my approach to training I could have got to that point a couple of years ago and I'd like to think that I've still got a few years of improvement left in me.  Like TT I don't think age need be a limiting factor - many of the best runners local to me are in their 40s.  I do recommend joining a club.  It helps enormously with speedwork and also gives you the opportunity to do team events.

  • I started running aged 29 in 1999

    First 10k was 53:18

    Last week I knocked 10 secs off my 10k pb set in 2003 with 33:31.

    As has been said above, consistent high mileage will get you the rewards.

  • I started running last year, aged 27, applied for the London Marathon got rejected.

    Completed first 10k in 60 minutes dead on.

    stopped running for a bit, but 6 weeks ago aged 28 i got started again, now up too 3-4 runs a week about 20 miles a week in distance, and going to apply for next years london marathon.

  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭

    blimey...i'm reading all these times above and feeling a litttle slow lol

    Sat here as a 27 year old..for another 3months, who has run to some degree since 21, but stepped up to 50miles a week only 6 months ago.

    got down to

    17:45 5k,  37:41 10k,,   1:02:10 10miler and 1:22:53 half.

    but looking at all the times above I'ma  flod of mediocrity!

    must get some more quality into my sessions!!

  • Well Stevie G you're certainly quicker than me, so at least you wouldnt be finishing last in the same race as me image

  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭
    i have to say though it's encouraging a runner as good as Bryn (Hobbling Harrier) says that a sub 17min 5k and a 35/36min 10k  are very attainable targets with just the right training!
  • popsiderpopsider ✭✭✭
    Yes well done BR - was it really 6 years ago you were setting all those pbs - doesn't seem anything like that. 
  • Thanks guys - yes seems a lot of miles ago.  I was beginning to wonder if I'd see another pb again.  It just goes to back up the point made earlier about it taking anything up to 10 years to reach your potential.
  • Pammie*Pammie* ✭✭✭
    A lurker delurks

    BR (or in fact anyone who has done the big mileage) How long was it after increasing your mileage did you notice a significant change in your race times

    back to lurkdom

    as you were
  • Pammie - 6 weeks after going from 50mpw to 70mpw my 10k time came down from 37:30 to 36:04.  So I reckon you might see progress after a 6 week block.
  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭
    without hounding you Mr BR, can you break down that 50, and thus the 70, into how many long runs, how much speed work etc, describe the sessions in more depth?
  • Pammie*Pammie* ✭✭✭

    Thanks BR for  that

    50 miles i am comfortable with and  could even stretch to 60 mpw.

    70 mpw i wold need to average about 1hr 40 per day on average while possible need to look how to plan it out

  • SG - the sessions were the same - one set of reps - 400m up to 1 mile and one tempo run per week.  Long run was the same - 15-18 miles.

    The main difference was running twice per day - an extra short (4-5m) run 4 or 5 days per week on days where there was no faster work.

  • Stevie G- Thanks! What I think has really spurred me on though is realising that actually I'm not very good at all! For instance went down to the track tonight and totally got my but kicked. Mate was running 8 x 1000 with a 30 second recovery with each k in 2:55 which is a very scary session! So I was running 300m, jogging 100m back and running the last 400 for 700m of each km rep he did at 70/lap pace.

    A few years back I was running about 37 minutes for 10k and could easily have just kept at that level and not made much progress and still won the odd local race etc. tbh I was starting to think I was the bees knees! Then I joined a local track club and everyone (even those younger!) had significantly faster times than me over the shorter stuff and the work on that has improved me drastically.

    I would be shocked if a 2-3 year progression up to 70-80 miles per week (probably a lot less!) incorporating one session a week at 5k pace alternating every other week between a 1500/3000m pace session and a 10k pace session together with a 20-45 minute tempo run on Saturdays (plus obv. 15-20 warm up and down) and a 90 minute long run didn't end up with an athlete running 34 for 10k and probably quite a bit faster.

    Regarding adaptation- some of the benefits start to be realised 2 weeks afterwards with almost all the training adaptation done in 6 weeks I think however the cumulative effect builds up. Red blood cells last 120 days so any benefit from stimulation to increase production of them lasts for 4 months. Improvement of vo2 max occurs relatively quickly as does lactic tolerance.

    Longer term adaptations such as form at pace, creation of additional mitochondria, long-term weight loss (for most a weight loss can probably increase performance), flexibility, improving lactic threshold (lots of the thing usually classified under the perhaps misnomer of "economy") are semi-cumulative over several years and are perhaps the overall drivers of performance.

    That said VO2 can be boosted easily and quickly and can give pretty awesome improvements.

    Bit longer than I intended... any queries from people as always just email or post belower.

    For what it's worth when I started out I ran 61:42 for 10k and have now clocked 33:16 for 10k - though most recently have clocked 33:47 for 10.4k (do the math!) and in mid 32 shape hoping to go sub 32 by the end of the year.
  • Footballers peak at aroudn 28-31 so I know it's a bit different startign at this age, but still you should be in the best position really speaking to get in to it.
  • I started running at age 26 when I ran 1h 45m for a half marathon.  I ran my PB of 1h 21m twenty years later at the age of 46.  A good friend finally broke 3 hours for the marathon in his early fifties.  As the Merkins say, go figure.
  • I started running at 37 having never done any sport before at all.  I'm completely hooked.  I'm pretty slow mind!
  • TippTopTippTop ✭✭✭

    Andy - going back a bit...... yes, I do a nice bit of my running early mornings, but it can be as little as a 6m recovery jog. I'm currently doing doubles most days and am pretty flexible within that. Though I do prefer to get my longer runs out of the way in the mornings it doesn't always work out like that. The only run I 'must' do early am is the long run. Ironically I would not class myself as a morning person.....

    BIRCH - any of the guys at my club around your age seem to focus on singles, rather than doubles as they feel that the recovery time incurred from a second run outweighs the benefits of the second run. Personally I just think that means they're doing they're recoveries too fast (but I may change my mind when I get to their age). Other than that I think they're pretty keen on maintaining speed work, though probably a bit less than when they were younger and stretch more.

    BR - I forgot you were another late starter.

    Stevie G - keep the miles up and you'll see the reward. I'd agree with HH's assessment re: sub-17 5k and 35/36min 10k being achievable by most with the relevant effort.

    HH - good post. Fwiw, I think it's worth pointing out that anybody starting out should spend some time solely on base work before introducing the speed work you've mentioned and that VO2, despite being easily boosted is primarily only of use at shorter distances and if you spend too long (or start too early) on VO2 work you can drag down any aerobic conditioning you've built-up.

  • Back to the OP, if you've got a sporting background you can achieve a lot. I started running last year, in fact almost exactly 12 months ago at the age of 30 to lose weight initially, although I obviously got sucked in. I have a competitive sporting background (rowing), but that was over 10 years ago, the time in between I filled with beer, women and cigarettes, any spare time I just squandered image.

    So at first I was unable to run/jog a 1.9 mile lap of the block without stopping for a breather, I was pretty ashamed really. I stuck at it and the miles started getting easier, then I started timing myself a bit and saw the improvements in front of me, I still keep an excel sheet of all my runs/times. Then I joined a club which helped me on again, so I entered a half marathon last November, a little bit hilly but nice countryside, in which I ran a 1:30:21, it was bloody awesome!

    Unfortunately injury took me out for most of the winter, but back on it again now and looking to faster times and different races.

    For me it's the personal challenge, I doubt I will ever win any races, but if you're a competitive person then times will give you never ending goals to chase. So is it worth it? Yes. Will you achieve anything? Personally, yes, very much so.


  • This thread has been great. I am sooooooooooo going to give it a go. Must resist the temptation to do too much too soon though so am limiting this week to 20 miles, then hopefully 25 next week and increase of 10% per week after that.

    I have to find a race for June/July so that I have something to aim for and don't lose interest. Not sure what kind of shape I'll be in after 3 months but my 18:56 5k was done after 10 weeks of just doing 12-15 miles per week (I was a bit younger then though....)

    Still, if I can get into 18/19 minute shape this summer I could look to go 17/18 next summer and then see where I can go from there.  (I'm not just going to be doing 5k's but that's the only official time I have to compare)

    I simply have to do it, I don't want to look back and wonder what I could have done, life's too short for that.

Sign In or Register to comment.