Monday, November 15, 2010

Tips for the 40 Year-Old Triathlete

The title pretty much excludes most of you who follow this blog. Yeah, I'm talking about the Ians and the Libbys who are still in their freakin' 20's, and the rest of you who are just barely over 30. But should you want some advice for the future, keep on reading. I was on a ride with my friend Chris yesterday, and like me, he is turning 40 next year. We've also been training mates for the past 12+ years, and we've been doing this tri stuff for almost 20 years now. During the ride, I turned to Chris and asked him if he felt the effects of aging yet? He immediately responded by saying that he always feels tight, and no amount of stretching, foam roller, or yoga seems to get him loose. If you follow my blog, you should know that feeling tight all the time is my major complaint this past year. For him, it's his calves; for me, it's my hamstring (and glutes). And we both agree that only our running has been affected by aging--swimming and running are still quite sharp, and if anything, have the potential to improve.

I miss the wealth of human growth hormone (HGH) that was flowing through my body when I was a teen and in my twenties. As its name implies, HGH is responsible for increasing muscle mass, increasing bone density, increasing exercise capacity and decreasing body fat. Beginning in middle age (that's me), the gland responsible for producing HGH, slows downs its production; the result is decreased muscles mass, decreased capacity to exercise, need I go on? To combat this, I have the following tips for the 40 year-old triathlete:

• Weights. You need to do it. Weights is not as fun as swimming, biking, and running. Thus, I made a deal with myself, I only do 30 minutes of weights twice per week. I have a circuit and whatever I can get in for a 30-minute time period, I do. Sometimes I only go through the circuit once, other times, twice, and on rare occasions, three times. Another tip is to do weights after a run or bike, your endorphins are kicked in and you will be more motivated.

• Sleep. Shoot for 8-9 hours. Your body's production of HGH is most active during sleep.

• Your training plan should have built-in recovery. I used to have a weekly plan and I followed the same plan every week. Thus, that meant I ran every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. I never had more than one day to recover from a previous run. Nowadays, I run every third day, thus I always have two days of recovery in between runs. And yes, this means my running schedule changes every week. If you're a teacher, it's like using a block schedule. This is working out well for me because I have built-in recovery and every week, my run days are different, and the variety is nice.

• Speedwork. Do it. Running 200s can help your ironman run; you'd be surprised by how much endurance you can actually get from doing 200s and 400s.

• And if you're poor like me because you blew your entire savings on a sabbatical to live life as a pro triathlete, you'll need to be creative to stay loose. The pic below is my solution.

• My final tip for the 40 year-old triathlete? Stay young at heart and when possible, go out and mix it up with those young whipper-snappers. And maybe rock it old-school and do one race in nothing but a speedo.


Jill Costantino said...

ahhhh - aging isn't it fun! I am officially a "puma" pre-cougar, and if you were a girl you would be turning COUGAR this year! Aren't I nice - aren't you glad I stopped by your blog today.
In all reality I am totally with you on the weights thing. I try to get at least 2 days of weights and stretching in and anymore is bonus. I also find stretching in between my weights gets 2 things done at once. We did splurge and get some weights for home (but we've already more than got our moneys worth). I've also been ice bathing once a week (partly because that's all I can stand). Keep at er Mr. Can't wait to watch you lay it down out there in 2011!

martin briars said...

great post !
i turn 48 in a couple of weeks... and i have really felt it in my running over the past year - lack of energy, turn of speed - and it's starting to feel in the swimming and cycling too !!! aaaaarrrghhh!!
so true for the weights - i know i have to try this.
and even truer for the recovery between outings.
I now do a lot more short runs rather than going for the two hour outings i used to love.
Still, i feel 28 and still aim to complete the Iron distance next year... so the desire is still there!
all the best

marti in France

D said...

Oh don't let Ian think he's still in his 20's. He acts like a teenager, but he's definitely 30!

You will always be a cougar to me, Kiet ;)

Beth said...

Uh-oh...I already feel tight all the time and I'm only 31. I might not be able to move by the time I'm 40!!! :)

Thanks for the tips!!

Libby said...

haha. does it make you feel better that you are WAY stronger than me and I'm in my 20's??? The past 10 years I have gotten weaker and weaker every year, I can't even do a pull up anymore. so while I may have age on you, you have wisdom on me because you are taking better care of your body than I do!!!!! (I'm working on changing that.... as soon as I rest some more :) )

Teresa said...

100% believe in strength training...keep it up!!