Canadian Boston Marathon age-grouper shares tips for running as we age

Sandy Rutledge began running in his early 60s; he has run the Boston Marathon four times. The Nova Scotian clocked an impressive 3:31:38 at Monday’s 128th running of the famous race, earning him second place for his division and top Canadian in that age bracket.

“It was a slower than normal Boston, with the heat,” Rutledge told Canadian Running after his race. “I backed it off and went a little slower than last year, because I didn’t want to push it and not finish.”

After a decade of running, Rutledge knows what he needs to do to stay competitive, but above all else, he’s looking at his longevity in the sport. “My goal is to run as long as I can,” he says. “In my 60s, I could run seven days a week and over 100 kilometres per week, but I’ve now backed that off to five days a week and lower volume,” he adds.

Rutledge has completed around 19 marathons and several shorter-distance races. And he has stayed relatively injury-free, thanks to a couple of key regimens that anchor his weekly training.

“I take Tuesdays entirely off running, and I do strength training,” he says, acknowledging that the consistency of these sessions has helped his healthy running streak. “I focus on the core in these… as we age, many people tend to develop back issues, and I’m no exception.”

Rutledge also shared that 20 to 30 minutes of daily stretching, often before his runs, has also played a big role in injury prevention.

As his career in real estate has wound down, Rutledge is grateful to running for helping him keep a daily routine, and a sense of purpose. “I wake up at 5 a.m.–I’m a morning person,” he says. “Running has brought me a sense of youth. I have continued doing most of the things I could do when I was younger, and I think running has done that for me.”

Having taken up running later in life than many other runners, Rutledge encourages anyone to give it a try if they’re curious, no matter their age. “I started really slow,” he says. “It began with walking and then adding in some running slowly… maybe a kilometre to start, and building up from there.”

Rutledge has no plans to slow down. “I’ve heard that most people have a 15-year life cycle in the marathon, and I’m 10 years in,” he says. “I’d like to keep running marathons into my 80s, but as long as I can keeping running five days a week, I’ll adjust the speed and the distances of my races, if I need to.”

Rutledge is looking forward to, hopefully, running the Athens Marathon later this year or next.

“That’s where it all began,” he says of the marathon. “I think we all owe it to the running gods to do that one at least once.”

posted Sunday April 21st
by Running Magazine