Help me get quicker as I get older
April 16, 2012 12:36 PM   Subscribe

Help me increase my speed and quickness even as I get older.

I am just on the dark side of my 30s now (eh, it ain't so bad over here) and while I am in pretty good shape overall, in my rec soccer league, I am noticing how much slower and less quick, agile I have become the last few years.

I don't have a particularly stringent workout routine, but I run 3x a week 3-6 miles, do a little strength training, and play 1-2 times a week. I can keep up in my soccer league, but find that younger players have more "quickness" of feet and reaction. I don't have the time or predilection to do very serious training to try to recover any speed, quickness lost with age: but could I augment my exercise routines during the week to get just a little back?

So, for the metafilter workout/training experts, I am wondering - is it possible for me to get back any quickness/speed at this point, and would it even be worth it to try without some kind of intensive change to my routine? Or should I just be happy with my slower than before 35 year old body, and look forward to the 40&up leagues in a few years?

If you think it is possible to get a bit of quick back - can you give me some suggestions as to what exercises/drills I should I be doing?
posted by RajahKing to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Well, what sort of speed/quickness are you talking about? I'll elaborate:

(links intended for basic education, not as exhaustive guides)

There's flat-out speed/footspeed/sprinting, which basically means you can run faster. You can train this by mixing your runs up with interval training, HIIT (infographic), or fartlek training.

Then there's explosive speed/power, which is good for changing direction, quick-kick, or shucking a defender. This is trained through things like plyometrics, agility drills, and explosive (Olympic) weightlifting.

ExRx Speed and Agility page

As always, it helps to have a good base of physical fitness before beginning any specialized program, and to begin at the beginning, progessing when able, and unserstanding when you have reached your limits. As you get older, recovery (sleep, hydration, fuel, macro and micronutrients) becomes even more important, as does warmup and cooldown.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:52 PM on April 16, 2012

Seconding plyometrics, interval training, fartleks, and consider:

Hill circuits-- find a fairly steep hill that takes you 2-4 minutes to run up. Run up it powerfully (ie stronger than your typical running pace). Jog at the top for about 3 minutes. Run down quickly, focusing on your stride rate-- make your strides quick, using the downhill to help you run faster. Recover for a couple minutes at the bottom. Only do this after you're thoroughly warmed up (15 minutes easy running + some faster strides) and make sure to cool down afterwards.

Wind sprints-- This kind of workout is best done at a track if you have one available. Standard track is 400m-- the straightaway is 100m, each turn is 100m. After a good warmup, accelerate on the straightaway until you're sprinting (100m). When you get to the turn, use it to recover but don't slow down/recover too much, you should still have momentum from the sprint carrying you forward, use that to get through the turn. When you hit the next straightaway, accelerate back up to sprinting speed again. This is good for increasing speed and increasing your ability to recover while still running quickly.

Don't do these too frequently-- I think once/twice per week is enough to add quite a bit of speed.
posted by matcha action at 1:09 PM on April 16, 2012

Nthing everything said above and not adding anything - I'm a soon-to-be 35-year-old rugby player (a second row lock forward, no less) and it really got to me when a fellow forward jokingly called me "old man" in one of our drills when I missed an assignment and was slow off the first step. So I added "stairs" back into my routine. My version of this (stolen from Olympic rowers when they used to train in Augusta) is to go to a steep set of stairs or high school football bleachers, sprint up, jog down, and do 25 push ups. All as fast as possible. Then do the whole routine again, with the number 24. Count down to one in this way. When you hit zero, you're done. Go take an ice bath for 15 minutes.

Working out an hour a day doesn't put you on the level any more, it seems, when you hit that age, and as the man of twists and turns put it so well, all the recovery aspects need to be focused on that much more. Or, if you have the capacity to change your disposition in life, go back and be born as an Argentinian, South African or Samoan. In my sport, at least, they seem to be somewhat immune to old age.
posted by Palamede at 3:15 PM on April 16, 2012

I gained a noticeable, fairly drastic increase in speed when I transitioned to eating "keto"/ultra-low-carb/hypercarnivore, i.e. put my body into ketosis. It's not for someone with impaired kidney function, fyi. I primarily did it for losing body fat, but also enjoy its other bonuses (faster, smarter, less brain-fog, and tasty, tasty bacon).

Here's a link to a basic intro and the faq at one of the communities I frequent.
posted by bookdragoness at 7:51 PM on April 17, 2012

Drat! I forgot an important point - the "drastic increase in speed" I mentioned was primarily in my reflexes and fast twitch muscles.
posted by bookdragoness at 7:53 PM on April 17, 2012

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