Never too old to learn

TRARALGON’S Ian Twite hopes to be running marathons beyond his 60th birthday.

“If I want to be running marathons in my 60s, the most important thing I can do is go to the track over summer and run the shorter distances like 200, 400 and 800 (metres),” he said.

Twite, who is 56 years old, began running after giving up football at 35 years of age, and started running marathons around three years later.

“Having played football for years, I was a candidate to have a bad (running) technique,” he said.

“It wasn’t until I was 52 that I noticed injuries in my calves and Achilles so I decided to head to the track to learn about technique from Denis Huffer.”

Recently, The Express spoke to Huffer, a local running coach, who claimed footballers were more susceptible to poor running technique because of the style of running common in the sport.

Twite’s experience confirmed Huffer’s assertions that correct technique was important to injury prevention, and old habits were hard to break.

“I’d been friends with Denis for years and he had told me about technique, but being an older runner I was quite set in my ways and didn’t take much notice,” he said.

“But then between the ages of 47 and 52 I watched myself get slower and slower so at that point I was open to changing.”

Being at the track, Twite was exposed to young “natural” runners who had correct technique.

He said at times he made small changes that turned out to be incorrect, but said since becoming conscious of his technique, he had been largely injury free.

One key piece of advice Twite had for runners looking to change their technique was to avoid running when tired.

“You go back into bad habits as soon as you lose concentration and/or get tired,” he said.

“I was forcing myself to do long training runs, but now I keep it between 10 and 15 kilometres per session because that’s about when I start to get tired.”

Twite said the Gippsland Athletics Club’s summer running series was a great place to start learning about technique because of the well-trained runners who competed.

“It’s a great place to learn because you’re in a situation where you’re running with people who have good technique and you can observe what they do.”

Twite also wanted to reinforce Huffer’s sentiment that you are “never too old” to start running or improve your style.