I Am 35 and Running Faster Than I Ever Thought Possible

Lindsay Crouse, writing in the New York Times:

In early December, I ran a marathon faster than I had ever dreamed. I had never thought an athletic breakthrough like that would be possible, especially not in my 30s.

Until I looked around. Something extraordinary is unfolding for American female distance runners, and it’s making all of us better. Well into our 30s and 40s, we are performing at explosively high levels, levels that used to be unimaginable. The fastest among us have shattered barriers: In 2017, Shalane Flanagan, at 36, became the first American woman to win the New York City Marathon in four decades. The following year, Des Linden, at 34, won the Boston Marathon, the first American woman to do so since 1985.

That success had a quiet and powerful ripple effect, from Olympians and professional runners down to hundreds of amateurs like me.

The most dramatic example is the United States Olympic marathon team trials, which will begin on Feb. 29 in Atlanta. The trials, where the fastest Americans race for the opportunity to be part of the Olympic team, are open to anyone, but to qualify, women have to run a marathon in under 2 hours and 45 minutes. It’s outrageously hard. Only 198 qualified in 2016. This year, the number of women qualifying skyrocketed to 511. The number of men has increased only slightly, from 211 to 260.

The great thing about long-distance running compared to other sports is that you can keep improving your performance for many more years.