RE­HAB

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - DEPARTMENTS - –JASPER BLAKE

Get Bet­ter from In­jury

Max­i­miz­ing per­for­mance as we age can be a chal­lenge, but triath­letes par­tic­i­pate and com­pete with vigour well into their later decades. Phys­i­o­log­i­cally there are things that start to work against us, but there are many things you can do to thrive as you age. Here are some strate­gies you can im­ple­ment to max­i­mize your per­for­mance at ev­ery age.

FAST AT FORTY

Ath­letes in the forty to fifty age cat­e­gory are in­cred­i­bly fast these days. Con­sid­er­ing that life ex­pectancy 100 years ago was not much over 40, it’s truly re­mark­able how good you can be af­ter that age now. One of the most sig­nif­i­cant changes is a steady de­crease in some key hor­mones that are favourable for sport, most no­tably testos­terone. Testos­terone is re­spon­si­ble for ev­ery­thing from sex drive to re­cov­ery to sleep pat­terns, along with the body’s abil­ity to con­trol and reg­u­late weight. Af­ter about the age of 30 there is roughly a one per cent de­crease in this hor­mone each year. So, by the time you are 40, testos­terone lev­els can be as much as 10 per cent lower than they were in your early thir­ties. I like to call the for­ties the “smart choices decade.” This is the decade where the con­se­quences of bad choices seem to be com­pounded. You need to care­fully con­sider sleep. Es­tab­lish a reg­u­lar rou­tine (go to bed and wake up at the same time), avoid elec­tron­ics 30 min­utes prior to bed, avoid al­co­hol and cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment that al­lows for as much sen­sory de­pri­va­tion as pos­si­ble. You need to care­fully con­sider nutri­tion. Stay away from re­fined sug­ars, fuel prop­erly dur­ing longer work­outs (avoid run­ning ma­jor nutri­tion deficits), fuel prop­erly af­ter work­outs and make sure meals are bal­anced with good qual­ity fats and pro­tein. The de­cline in vi­tal hor­mones like testos­terone leave less room for er­ror when it comes to sleep, re­cov­ery and nutri­tion, so make great choices and you will per­form bet­ter.

FAST AT FIFTY

Older does not have to mean slower. But, there is a rea­son we tend to slow down and go for longer dis­tances as we age. We change mus­cu­larly. The two pri­mary mus­cle fi­bre types are Type 1 (slow twitch) and Type 2 (fast twitch). With age comes a shift in fi­bre types from fast to slow. This does not mean that you need to give up on go­ing fast.

In fact, shorter, higher in­ten­sity train­ing may be the most ben­e­fi­cial thing you can do in your fifties. Hor­monal changes like lower testos­terone may mean your re­cov­ery times are longer, but this shouldn’t stop you from mak­ing some higher in­ten­sity ses­sions a sta­ple in your train­ing regime. This is true across all three sports. Don’t re­sign your­self to the idea that you are get­ting older and slower. Keep do­ing in­ter­val work on the track or hill reps on the bike and don’t be afraid to mix it up on the sprint sets in the pool. If you use it you won’t lose it (as fast).

FAST AT SIXTY

Bone den­sity and mus­cle mass may be two of the big­gest chal­lenges ath­letes in their six­ties will face. This harsh re­al­ity can also lead to an in­creased rate of in­jury. Less bone den­sity puts the skele­tal sys­tem at risk for frac­tures and a de­creased abil­ity to han­dle im­pact and load. Like­wise, less mus­cle mass leaves the body more vul­ner­a­ble to loads that were once easily tol­er­ated. Re­sis­tance and/or weight train­ing in this decade is es­sen­tial. Re­sis­tance train­ing will not only limit the dam­age, but it can also stim­u­late an in­crease in both mus­cle and bone mass. Ath­letes of all ages should get into the weight room, or have some kind of re­sis­tance train­ing in their pro­gram, through­out the year. The weight room is not al­ways the first place older ath­letes think to spend time, but it may be one of the most im­por­tant.

Get­ting older has its draw­backs but by no means should it be a for­gone con­clu­sion that you will fall off the fit­ness cliff. De­clin­ing per­for­mance, be­cause of age, should not be­come a self-ful­fill­ing prophecy. With age and ex­pe­ri­ence there of­ten comes a greater de­gree of aware­ness on how to ap­proach health, fit­ness and com­pe­ti­tion. What you lose phys­i­cally can be coun­tered by ma­tu­rity, smart de­ci­sions, ex­pe­ri­ence and wis­dom.

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