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Older Runners Good New and Bad

Older Runners, Good New and Bad: The Fountain of Youth for Female Runners

ground reaction forces jumping lifting running skills strength training weight training for female runners Jun 11, 2024

I have good news and bad when it comes to running as you get older.

Good News: The fountain of youth for runners does exist.

Bad News: It requires you to put in the work! No Magic potions are found there.

In this article we will explore the some important training considerations for older runners, good news and bad.

The fountain of youth for runners is found in your muscles!

Muscle mass, independent of fat mass and cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors, is inversely associated with mortality risk in older adults”

Srikanthan P, Karlamangla AS. Muscle mass index as a predictor of longevity in older adults. Am J Med. 2014;127(6):547-553

Muscle mass is associated with better insulin sensitivity and lower risk of diabetes, improved bone density, improved metabolic rate, better heart health, and improved cognitive function to name a few.

Here’s some more bad news: Running alone is not enough to preserve muscle and bone mass and as we age we tend to lose muscle and gain fat.

In fact, running alone provides NO protection for bone mass in postmenopausal women.

Hawkins SA, Wiswell RA, Jaque SV, et al. The inability of hormone replacement therapy or chronic running to maintain bone mass in master athletes. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci.

The good news: We know what does help.

Lifting heavy and jumping together have been shown to improve bone mass! Muscles tension and controlled load on the bone actually helps grow new bone!

In postmenopausal women with osteopenia and osteoporosis, a prescription of 5 sets of 5 reps at 80-85% 1 rep max deadlift, overhead press, squatting, and jumping pullups resulted in a 2.9% AND 0.3% bone density INCREASE in lumbar spine and femoral neck bone respectively over the course of 8 months. 

Watson SL, Weeks BK, Weis LJ, Harding AT, Horan SA, Beck BR. High-Intensity Resistance and Impact Training Improves Bone Mineral Density and Physical Function in Postmenopausal Women With Osteopenia and Osteoporosis: The LIFTMOR Randomized Controlled Trial  J Bone Miner Res. 2019 Mar;34(3):572

More good news!

We can be proactive about it and it’s never too early to start.

✔️ Eat more protein (and carbs obviously)

✔️ Lift heavy weights 

✔️ Keep training athletic qualities (jumping, landing, change of direction)

✔️ Get your hormones checked (both testosterone and estrogen play huge role in your musculoskeletal system)

✨Run forever and improve the QUALITY of your lifespan!

I firmly believe in the Christopher McDougall quote (with my additions) from Born to Run:

"We don’t stop running (and jumping, and lifting heavy things) because we get old. We get old because we stop running (and jumping, and lifting heavy things)."

The other day, when I watched my 4 year old jump off the back of the coach and confidently land in the living room from a surface nearly his own height, it made me think back to my fears the first time attempting the move below.  I was terrified I was going to hurt myself and that box only came up to my knees (😰).

And then back to my early marathon racing days when I could run hard for hours on end but was afraid of what would happen if I stepped off the sidewalk the wrong way (🤦‍♀️.

How did I get there? I stopped lifting heavy things and jumping!

How did I get back here? I started lifting heavy things and jumping!


I have a ton of resources related to strength training for runners. I usually start my runners at 3 sets of 10 when working on learning the new movements but work towards 4-5 sets for 5-8 reps with higher weight/resistance to really reap the health benefits of increased muscle mass.

So here let's talk a little bit more about jumping.

If you are intrigued by my thoughts in that video above about how we shouldn’t fear ground reaction forces and  that the ultimate goal of athletic training for running is to train your body to accept, store, and use the ground reactive forces to your advantage.

And you want to start (re)learning how to trust your relationship with the ground.

Check out some of these progressions we use in the Women’s Running Academy to help you get there.  

Begin to accept/trust the landing:


Learn to create force:

Start moving quickly off your feet:



Put it all together:

As you build confidence you can increase the height of the step or box!

Want to run forever? Don't stop lifting and jumping! 

If pelvic floor symptoms are keeping you from jumping confidently, you'll definitely want to check out Pelvic Floor Fundamentals for Runners.


Next on Your Reading List:

How to Grow Your Glutes for Running? Here Are 3 Magical Exercises.

Running Pace Training: How to Improve Running Economy.

Tight Calves During Running: Solutions Beyond Stretching for Lasting Relief



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