Age-Graded Half Marathon Finish Times

I talked about age-grading in a previous post, which you can find here:  My Age Adjusted Half Marathon Times. For those of you in your 20’s, this isn’t something you think about but for runners in your 40’s like me, it’s certainly something to consider. Inevitably, we slow down with age and although it varies considerably from person to person and depends on when you first started running and racing, for most people it happens noticeably in your 40’s. That where age-grading or age-adjustment times come in.

Age Grading Calculators take into account your age and gender at the time of the race and compares your finish time to an “ideal” or best time (not necessarily the “world record”) achievable for that individual’s age and gender. Statistical tables are used to compare the performances of individual athletes at different distances, between different events, or against other athletes of either gender and/or of any age. In other words, it puts males and females of all ages on the same level essentially.

In my original article, I have a link to Runner’s World age graded calculator, but since Runner’s World has since locked down their online access unless you pay for it, I found another website with an age graded calculator that I’ll link to here. You just have to put in your age at the time of the race, the distance, and your finish time and it will calculate your age-graded finish time for you.

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Running towards the finish line in Arkansas

I wanted to look at my most recent races, so I entered them in the calculator and got the following results with the age-graded results first here:

Arkansas- 1:48:08 (actual time 1:57:31)

Alaska- 1:51:25 (actual time 2:01:06)

Idaho- 1:50:16 (actual time 1:59:51)

West Virginia- 1:51:15 (actual time 2:00:55)

New Jersey- 2:03:05 (actual time 2:13:46)

Utah- 1:56:18 (actual time 2:06:24)

California- 1:57:48 (actual time 2:06:46)

To be completely honest, the race in Utah was bitterly cold at the start (to me anyway, a Southerner not used to running in freezing temperatures) plus it was hilly and this no doubt effected my racing times. The race in New Jersey was filled with some brutal hills which of course slowed me down considerably and the race in California was hot from the start and just got hotter. This explains my slower times for those races. I would say my times for the other races are pretty similar.

My fastest age-graded times seem fast by my standards, although I know many of you are much faster than I am and was faster than me even when I was younger. My fastest finish time to date was 1:55:28 at Spearfish Canyon Half Marathon, South Dakota- 34th state. My age-graded time for this race is 1:49:13. Comparing the race in South Dakota, my age-graded time at the race in Arkansas was actually faster even though they were 3 years and 4 months apart. I’m truly surprised by this. This means factoring in age, my times aren’t getting slower but I have been getting faster in the last couple of years.

Just out of curiosity, I plugged in my information into the age-graded calculator for the half marathon I ran in Pennsylvania many years ago:  Philadelphia Distance Run, Pennsylvania-3rd state. My age-graded time was 2:00:13  and my actual finish time was 2:00:31. No surprise there really. It just proves that age-grading is really only for those in their 40’s and later.

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Do any of you calculate your age-graded race times or are you still too young for it to make a difference? Do you know anyone else who looks at their age-graded results after a race?

Happy running!

Donna

 

 

My Age Adjusted Half Marathon Times

After reading Runner’s World Train Smart Run Forever by Bill Pierce and Scott Murr (see my review here), I wanted to see how my age adjusted half marathon times looked. One of the main takeaways from the book is that although your race times will inevitably increase as you get older, particularly beginning in your 40’s, your age adjusted times should actually remain the same or decrease if you’re lucky.

Warning: this blog post is full of data and probably only for true data geeks. If it puts you to sleep, don’t say I didn’t warn you. For those of you that are into this kind of thing, you’re in for a treat!

First I plotted all of my half marathons from the very first one in North Carolina to the  one I ran in Utah. I did not include my last race in New Jersey, however. This includes half marathons I ran over an almost 20 year span with 41 half marathons in 39 states, so there are a lot of variables here besides just age to consider. For instance, the terrain and weather varied greatly from one race to the next. Beyond that, I was anemic for a period of years, so there is a spike in my times due to that until I was fully recovered.

You’ll see my race times are in red and my age adjusted times are in black. Initially, the age adjusted times are the exact same as the race times, so you’ll only see a black square for the first few races. Only around my mid-30’s do you even start to see a separation between the red circles and black squares.

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There is also a spike in my times for the race in Colorado. Running at a high elevation really took it out of me so this was definitely one of my slowest finish times. I decided to take out the times when I was anemic and the points from Colorado, since I thought they were outliers from the rest of the data.

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OK. So now I’ve removed the points from when I was anemic and my race in Colorado. With these two graphs, I can get a better idea of the “big picture” of my running.  The obvious outlier in the first one is my first race ever. Even with that point included, however, the general trend for my age adjusted times are decreasing, as shown by the linear fit shown by the blue line. When I throw out my first race time, the trends are more consistent. My race times have averaged around 2 hours and a couple of minutes over the years and have slightly increased. However, and here is the main point of the whole thing, my age adjusted times, again, as shown by the blue line, have definitely decreased over time, which is what I wanted to see.

Another interesting thing is the very large degree of separation between my race times and age adjusted times in my 40’s. For my half marathon in Utah, the difference between these two times is almost 10 minutes!

My plots aren’t anywhere near as “pretty” as the ones in the book, but I think maybe a big reason for that is the author’s age spans over a much longer time than mine do. Perhaps when I’m in my 70’s (as one of the authors is) and I plot my race times versus my age adjusted times, I’ll see something even more linear, rather than what I see. Hopefully even though my race times will (inevitably) increase, my age adjusted times will continue to decrease linearly.

Here’s the link to the Runner’s World website where you can plug in your numbers to see your age-graded race times.