Runners on the Golden Gate Bridge

Using Age-Grading as a Tool

While most ARR members participate in competitive running events, the motivation for that participation varies considerably. A few may aspire to compete for overall or masters titles while others will toe the line intending to battle it out for age group awards. And some may be solely focused on competing with themselves, working to shave a few seconds off personal best times, or perhaps take fewer walking breaks than during the last race.
As presented three weeks ago, the age grading system can be a useful tool for virtually anyone looking to improve as a runner — those with goals of winning races, those simply wanting to finish, and everyone in between. A competitive bent isn’t required for using age grading, merely a desire to run better and with more satisfaction.
For example…say you’re a 53-year-old female returning to running after three decades away from the sport. You ran a 5K best of 21:15 while in college, which converts to a performance percentage of 69.61. In your first 5K in 30 years you run a 26:10, equal to a performance percentage of 65.16 and an age-graded time of 22:37. How might these numbers be utilized as you work to improve your running?
First, you should feel encouraged that a 65.16 performance percentage is a strong local-level result (Marks below 70% are considered local level while 70-79% is the regional level range, 80-89% is national level, and 90% and above is world-class). A 70% performance at 5K for a 53-year-old woman requires a 24:21, so in other words, you’ll need to trim 1:49 off your 26:10, a tall order. But you might begin by aiming to hit 66%, which means running 25:50. And after that 67% (25:26).
Keep in mind that when you turn 54 things change: a 67% 5K performance goes up to 25:43. And at age 55 the regional-quality 70% threshold is 24:54. So in this regard aging has its benefits.
Wherever you are with your running, racing, and goal setting, consider playing around with the age grading calculator and using it as a tool to help with motivation and improvement. Classic Race Services now includes an “Age Percentage” column in published results, and you can use this link to find an age-graded calculator:
Use the Calculator
Finally, if you have ambitions of qualifying for ARR’s Racing Team, you can quickly access the 70% qualifying standards at the ARR website. Just click the Athens Racing Team tab and you will see 70% marks for many popular race distances, for men and women of all ages. Coach Al Jeffers works with club members who meet at 5:30 each Wednesday morning for workouts at UGA’s Spec Towns Track. Think about joining them!