Age Grading

Many of you may have heard of the Age Graded Tables. If not, here is a good introduction to them. Then, I’m going to elaborate on them and their use.

Age-graded tables are a series of “age factors” and “age standards” which can be used to compare performances of runner’s with different ages in track & field, long distance running and race walking. Tables exist for both sexes and ages 8-100. (I just hope I’m moving at 100, never mind running!) The purpose is to correct a person’s performance to what it would have been (or will be) in their prime years. You can compare different ages, male and female against each other and establish who really had the “better” performance.

One example of using these tables in a race is the ARR summer series race #1 at Papago Park, Phoenix, AZ. The handicapped start is based on these tables. That is why the youngest and oldest start out first and those in their prime (typically 20s up to early 30s) start last. First one to the finish line “wins”.

There is a motivation-enhancing use for the tables also. As we age, we slow down (regardless of denial). Now, you can take a race you did at age 50 and compare it to when you were in your prime. You can also compare it to standards to see how you rank against others.

So, here is my example:
My prime (age 20-34 in this case on the tables) 5000 time was 15:14. At age 41 I ran 15:59. The “age factor” is .9555. By multiplying the factor times my age 41 time, I have a graded time of 15:16.4. I was actually just as good at age 41 than in I was in college. To run as “fast” as I did in college this spring at age 52, I will need to run 17:12 (15:14 divided by the age 52 age factor .8859).

Here’s another way to compare performances. My 15:14 at age 24 is approximately 85.1% of the world standard (100% = 12:58).  The age 41 – 15:59 time is 84.9% (100% = 13:34). The tables establish the following standards of performance levels:
100% = approximate world record level
Over 90% = World Class
Over 80% = National Class
Over 70% = Regional Class
Over 60% = Local Class

  • Practical Uses of Tables
  • Track your progress over the years.
  • Compare your performances in an event or different event.
  • Race your friends “fairly” – male or female, younger or older.
  • Compare your performances with anyone of any age.
  • Establish your level of competitive achievement (World, National, Regional, Local Classes).
  • Run races with distance or time handicaps.
  • Enable those at the upper end of age groups to compete on an equal level with those at the lower end of the age groups.
  • Select best performances in a race or meet.
  • Motivate yourself!

You can get the tables from:

In the end, it’s a bit academic. Every time I toe the line, I’m out to beat everyone else regardless of age or gender. And to those of you who are in your “prime” reading this, all I can say is, your time will come. You do have something to look forward to. You’re not getting older, you’re getting better!


About Dean Hebert

I’m a mental game coach, author and speaker. I work with individual athletes, parents, coaches, and teams on sports performance enhancement. Beyond my academic post-graduate work in sports psychology - the psychology behind athlete performance – I am a certified Mental Games Coaching Professional (MGCP) and certified hypnotherapist. I’ve authored several books and hundreds of articles. “Coach, I didn’t run because…” (2008) is a seriously light-hearted look at making excuses not to workout and how to overcome them. “Focus for Fitness” (2009) and “Screw the Goals Give me the Donut” (2010) are two of my eBooks on mental game approaches for the everyday athlete. I wrote these because I believe that everyone can benefit from the powerful mental techniques that the world’s best athletes use. I have been cited in Runners World, Best Health magazine (CN), SWEAT Magazine, and the Washington Examiner amongst many other publications. I have been a featured mental games coach in Runner’s World and for the internationally acclaimed trail running resource - I also regularly appear on sports and fitness talk shows such as LTKFitness, Runnersroundtable and for more than three years I have co-hosted a weekly video series with Coach Joe English for I specialize in mental toughness training. My clients include tennis, synchronized swimming, golf, race-kart, soccer, motocross, volleyball, MMA, cycling (road, off-road, time-trialist), running, duathlon and triathlon, basketball, football and baseball athletes. I have coached world-class athletes and athletes internationally. I have a passion for working with youth athletes and helping them apply mental game skills and techniques to all areas of life. Most importantly, my aim is to have people enjoy sports and life to their fullest through peak performances.
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2 Responses to Age Grading

  1. Pingback: Bad Runs… What do you do? « Everything Mental Toughness

  2. Pingback: Bad workouts – what do you do? « Everything Mental Toughness

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