Ageless Results

by Jonathan Beverly

( From the RRCA website
    One of the most comforting books ever written on running," writes Joe Henderson in Better Runs, "contains mostly numbers."  The book, Age-Graded Tables, provides precise data on how to rate one's athletic performance at any age. This seemingly benign document can create considerable emotion -- a comfort to many aging runners, a cause for some, and, for a few, a contention.

   First compiled by the World Association of Veteran's Athletes (WAVA) in 1989, Age-Graded Tables underwent a thorough updating in 1994. The current tables are "pretty solid," says Al Sheahen, editor of National Masters News and chair of the WAVA age-graded subcommittee. "They're backed by 30 years of experience and thousands of actual results." The finished product describes the upper limits of performance at every age and distance. Given this

upper limit, the tables enable a runner to compute two new descriptions of a running performance (for specifics, see the sidebar "Do the math" below):
   Age-adjusted time. Multiplied by a runner's actual time, an "age factor" adjusts the time to what it would have been in their prime.
   Performance-level percentage (PLP). Dividing one's time by the "age standard" provides a percentage value that can be compared to any

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