Whoever said people slow down as they get older never met Olympic bronze medalist Deena Kastor. The running superstar turned 40 on Valentine’s Day, then packed up and traveled to Pasadena to tackle the Kaiser Permanente Rock ‘n’ Roll half-marathon. As if finishing in 1:12:57 and, ya know, winning the race wasn’t enough, she’s got her eyes set on the LA Marathon in March. Her goal? Winning that one, too! We chatted with the pro to find out how running has changed her throughout the years, and to nab some tips for those looking to bust out of a rut.
First of all, happy belated birthday! Did you do anything to celebrate?
Well I was heading to the Kaiser Permanente Rock ‘n’ Roll Pasadena Half-Marathon the next day, so nothing too outrageous. But we had a barbecue that night – good food and good wine, of course.
That sounds perfect. Now that you’re officially in your 40s, have you looked back at how you ran in your 20s and seen any changes in your running style?
I think my mileage is a little lower. Now I make sure there’s a lot of quality to my miles, rather than quantity. I spent many years running 120-140 mile weeks training or marathons; now I’m focused a little lower. It was a natural process for me, rather than an age change, but I focus on recovery and rest a little bit more now and making sure my body can handle the intensity. That’s always been intuitive for me, so I’ve been really lucky. I’m rarely plagued with injuries because I back down before they come to fruition. The sport of running is very healthy, but people can go unhealthy and it’s all about maintaining that balance.
What do you like to do on recovery days?
Sometimes I’ll take a short 2-3 mile run to loosen up, and other times I’ll take a day completely off and give myself a rest. Resting to me isn’t going to the mall and heading out to parties. If I feel I need it, I lounge on the couch all day. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s certainly days you need to disconnect from the computer and your running shoes.