Many of us experienced triathletes are feeling we just don’t have the time or energy to train that we once did. On top of this we might be seeing the same niggly injuries recurring time and time again. If this sounds like you, do not despair—and put down that golf club membership! You probably just fall into the category of a masters triathlete, i.e. over 40 years of age. You just need to make some simple adjustments to how you train.
Firstly, you may need to examine how often you take rest days. In the past, you may have been able to survive on one rest day a week. But as things “creak” a little more (and we have more responsibilities to juggle) we need to build in more time when we do not train. For my masters plans/athletes, I typically will insist on two rest days a week.
I know proposing extra rest days to seasoned athlete may sound like treason (and yes, I do have to fight some battles here with my squad) but it does not have to be negative. Here are some options I use to soften the blow:
- Allowing light easy recovery sessions on rest days, which you can reframe as “active recovery days.”
- Be flexible on when an athlete can complete some key sessions/rest to counter when work/life might necessitate a juggle – “floating rest days”
Secondly, to combat the effects of muscle density declining from our 40’s onwards, masters athletes should add in supplemental exercises to their weekly routine, such as yoga, pilates and/or light weights. These variations on our usual training will help you build and maintain flexibility and core strength. These sessions are also perfect contenders for the “active recovery day” discussed above—and they’re vital for injury prevention.
Finally, it may be useful to adjust your current recovery cycle. This relates to how often you take a rest week in your training plan. A standard rest week, where you drop your training load/intensity by 60%-50% of the previous week will allow your body to consolidate the previous blocks training.
Most plans will work off a three weeks “on” and the fourth week “off” or a rest week, but for my masters athletes and plans I work off a 2 week on/one week off cycle. This serves simply to allow for more recovery, gain consolidation and further reduce the risk of injury from training overload.
In summary, none of us are getting any younger, but we have been getting wiser and more experienced—let’s make sure we train that way. Just because you can’t hammer the body like you did in your earlier years doesn’t mean you can’t continue to progress as an athlete. By adding in extra rest days, more supplemental training and increasing your recovery cycles you can continue to participate and thrive in your favorite activities. Besides, I have heard that golf is an awful sport!