Becoming a Triathlete: The Ideal Sport
As triathlon becomes more specialized, we wanted to figure out which discipline has the potential to groom the best triathlete. Kevin Mackinnon considers the history, what’s worked and where the sport is going.
“I am still learning that as you get older, your system changes, and frankly, I don’t know what to do about it.” –From
by American nun Sister Madonna Buder, who opened the 75+ age group for women at Ironman Canada and five years later did the same for the 80+ category
The Grace to
When it comes to food, older triathletes need to practice basic sports nutrition and be aware of the nutritional needs of an aging body.
Competitive triathlete, coach and nutritionist Sheila Kealey, author of Food for Thought: Healing Foods to
Savor, recommends a Mediterranean diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, healthy fats and fish. She notes that while older people in general need more protein than younger sedentary people, older triathletes need even more protein than their peers. Additionally, the type, timing and distribution of that protein throughout the day is important.
Strength training is critical for older triathletes due to muscle loss associated with aging. Balance problems can lead to falls, and since triathlon training involves mostly moving forward in a straight line, Kealey believes agility work should be added.
When it comes to training programs, Ottawa coach Julia Aimers says the biggest difference in her older triathletes is they need longer recoveries from hard workouts. “But if recovery is built in properly to their weekly and monthly training plans, older triathletes can really thrive.”
Jim Anderson, 75, is the oldest triathlete registered with Triathlon Manitoba. He believes because of its built-in cross-training, triathlon is an ideal sport for his age. “If I did a four-hour run, I’d be beat for a week. But after an hour swim, two hours on the bike and an hour run, I feel great the next day.”