The years have slipped by. Where? Who knows but reality has struck and long ago you knew deep down that you would never see another PR. I really envy the runners who don’t care about that and don’t care what their race times are. They are probably much happier for it. But for those with a spark of competitive drive left in the tank, we need something to run for. Am I still a good runner? Am I in good shape? Even if it’s just for my age, am I in good shape for my age? How does one know?
Sure, you can compare your standing against the others in your age group at races. But that is all dependent on what race you do. If there are two different distances available at the same event and you want to place highly in your age group. That’s a no-brainer. Just do the shorter distance. The better runners almost always do the longer event.
A better option is age-graded scores. Just type in “running age grade” into any search engine and you will find a site that lets you figure out exactly where you stand against others your age and gender. It is figured out based on the world record for your age for the distance you input and your age and gender. That’s all fine and dandy but I am proposing another easy way to answer the basic question, “Am I still in good shape?”
Golfers have had a thing for a long time about shooting your age. For example, if you are 75 years old and shoot a round of 75 or less for 18 holes (sorry it’s 18 not 9) then you have achieved quite a remarkable feat. I watched my dad do that a couple times and I am still in awe of that. Well now we have something we can do as runners. CAN YOU RUN YOUR AGE?
The goal here is to run your age or better in a 10k. It’s a simple thing to measure. No tables to consult, no login to a site is required and once you have done it, you are in a surprisingly exclusive club. If you are 65 years old, you have to run 65 minutes or less to run your age. No, this does not elevate you to badass level but I believe it puts you in the top few 1% of Americans your age. (I have no science backing up that claim but I think it’s true). First, the mere fact you actually ran a 10k at whatever age means you are in decent shape. I believe the vast majority of Americans can’t run a mile without stopping. An even smaller number can finish that mile in under 10 minutes. How many 60 year olds can string 6 of those sub 10 minute miles together? Reliable stats on how many people can run a 10k without stopping are not available to me. But I’m sure it’s well under 5% and more likely under 1%. A quick visit to any local fast food place will leave you feeling pretty good about yourself after you have compared yourself to the typical denizen of that habitat of Americans who thrive on sugar, fat and salt.
Sorry girls, this is a one size fits all deal. There is no handicap for being female. We are keeping it simple and I have had my ass kicked by enough women on the race courses to no longer cut you any slack. Just keep working and keep demoralizing all of us slower males.
The fastest 10k ever run was by Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia in 26:17.53 in 2005. So, 27 appears to be the cutoff for members of the run your age club. Bekele was 23 at the time of his world record. He obviously was going to have to work a little harder to be a stud like those who actually ran their age. Hopefully he has made it since then. Good luck to all who aim to be in this exclusive club!