Full Marathon Age Group Technical Analysis

Full Marathon Age Group Technical Analysis - based on Hatyai Marathon 2017

One of the best things that has come out of Hatyai Marathon 2017 held on May 28, 2017 was its age group categories. Yeah I didn't quite like the idea of printing my age group so big on my race bib, prompting people to know my real age. :) But hey, it's also because of the age group categorization that has given me an a rare insights of the performance of full marathoners by age group.

Great thanks to http://my6.raceresult.com for providing such detailed race results by age group at the recently conculded Hatyai Marathon 2017. Now at least I can have a fair idea of how age affects running performance in full marathon.

For this technical analysis purpose, I only look at sub 4:30 hour male full marathon finishers by age group at Hatyai Marathon 2017. I have actually counted number of runners by age group who completed the full marathon in stipulated time period. I hope it gives a good understanding of the age versus performance factor in running a full marathon.

Full Marathon Age Group Technical Analysis Results (based on male FM finishers)

1. Most competitive age group: 40-44

A full marathoner peaks at the age of 40-44!! This is clearly indicated by 26 FM participants aged 40-44 who finished within four (4) hours - 11 more than age category 45-49, and 14 more than age category 35-39. 

This age group 40-44 also sees the most runners (12) who completed Hatyai Marathon 2017 within 3:30 hour.

What does that also mean? It means age group 40-44 is the MOST COMPETITIVE age group with the most runners who finished within four (4) hours.

How about the 2nd most competitive age group? It has got to be age group 45-49 with 15 FM finishers within 4:00 hours or 29 FM finishers within 4:30 hours. 

Surprisingly, age group 30-34, 35-39 didn't score well in this category though.

2. Age group 40-49 has the most sub 4:30 hour full marathoners

Is it midlife crisis? Or runners in this age group are more financially stable giving them more time for long-hour running? Or the health has become most important in their lives now? Or they need to achieve something outside of career for sense of achievement and feeling young?

I'm not sure the real reasons but I believe all the possible factors mentioned above might be contributing to this large group of sub 4:30 hour finishers.

3. Sub 3:00 hour runners are the young guns

Yes, youth plays a key role in speed! There were two aged 16-29, two aged 30-34, and one aged 35-39 who finished with an impressive sub 3:00 hour time in such hot weather! There were also two (2) odd ones in age category 45-49 who managed to finish within 3:00 hours. 

Generally speaking, chances are higher if you are below 35 years old in order to achieve sub 3:00 hour full marathon.

4. Full marathons attract more runners from age 40 and above

May be same reasons as #2, I see more and more veteran runners participating in full marathons! With the concept of "runcation," more and more runners who start to enjoy life a little bit more by combining running and travel into one. It seems like the veterans have more time to do their fair bit of travel too on their run-vacation!

But I would still think it's the health benefits of running that bring more and more veterans into the outdoors, into running.

5. The older we get, the slower we run.

This is clearly indicated by the fact that only 21 FM participants aged 50-54, 15 FM participants aged 55-59, 10 FM participants aged 60-64, and 4 FM participants aged 65+ finished within four (4) hours.

I believe this is due to aging factor.

According to The Science of Aging and Running  article published on Oct 10, 2009 at www.runnersworld.com, there are 3 key factors how aging affects running.
  • Declining aerobic horsepower (VO2 Max): One of indisputable effect of aging is declining aerobic horsepower. Classically this is measured via VO2 max, your maximum rate of oxygen usage per unit of body weight. Most runners associate this with reduced cardiac capacity. For sedentary people, VO2 max typically declines by about 10 percent per decade after age 30. For athletes who keep in training, the rate of decline can be often be held to about half that. 
  • Declining flexibility:  In older people, the tendons are less efficient. Once the muscles start to get tight, you are limited your power base. You are not going to be able to move as smooth and efficiently. Great news is that stretching and using foam rollers can help increase the flexibility as we age.
  • Declining muscle power: Another indisputable side effect of aging is a decline in muscle mass. According to College of Sports Medicine, muscle strength and mass begin decreasing at age 40, with the process speeding up after age 65 or 70. Of particular concern to runners, the loss generally occurs fastest in the lower body.
  • Lower recovery and healing rates: Many veteran or master runners find that it takes longer than it once did to recover from workouts and races. Lots of factors may be involved, but the simplest to understand is at the cellular level, where tissue repair and replacement simply don't occur as rapidly as they once did.

Data Source from Hatyai Marathon 2017

Male 16-29

Male 30-34

Male 35-39

Male 40-44

Male 45-49

Male 50-54

Male 55-59

Male 60-64

Male 65+

Female 16-29

Female 30-39

Female 40-49

Female 50+

In conclusion

Despite the technical analysis above based on Hatyai Marathon 2017 showing what's the norm, we still have choices.

We can choose to follow the norm or 

we can choose to go against all odds to be extraordinary!

Look at 60+ year-old Mr Tan Wah Sing who manages to run consistently with sub four hour marathons barefoot!

Look at 60+ year-old Lim Huat who ran sub-3:30-hour marathons and had the privilege to run at Boston Marathons!!

And let's also not to forget the 35 amazing health benefits of running according to science. You can read more at www.sport-fitness-advisor.com by clicking here. In fact, the older we get, the more we need to run with all the amazing health benefits of running.

Who says we need to follow the norm?

Who says we can't try our best to be extraordinary?

The greatest motivation in life is when someone puts the impossible before you, and you challenge the impossible against all odds.

Greatness exists in all of us!

Let's achieve our greatness! 

Written by Vincent Khor on June 11, 2017


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