Training for older athletes

Hi I have just listened to the podcast “Training and recovery for the over 40’s” which was very interesting but has thrown up a few issues for me. I am 68 nearly 69 years old and dabbled in cycling for a couple of years in my mid 40’s and cycled to work due to lack of other transport for around 20 years after that but a casual 2 miles either way, nothing hard. I have taken things more seriously now for the last couple of years and recently joined Systm, joined a local club and am 5 weeks now into the 12 week moderate 3:1 plan with strength training. I had one week off the plan last week as my interactive trainer broke down so went out for some real cycling and did 240 miles (5 rides) with all rides just over the 18mph average. The last ride (52 miles with the club) (they are all younger than me!) was hard work and I got dropped on the last hill near the end of the ride. TBH the last time I did that sort of mileage in a week was probably 25 years ago. My trainer is fixed and I am back on the plan but listening to that podcast this morning made me think about recovery. I want to stick to my plan, which generally only gives one day a week off but I want to go out on the clubs weekly group ride as well which gives me the option of no rest day, to remove a workout, which I don’t really want to do or to double up one day to allow one rest day but according to the podcast I should be factoring in more rest than that. Any ideas please how I jiggle all of this around to fit everything in. I am retired so it’s not like I have to do other work as well so do have relaxation time when not training. thanks everyone off to do “The Trick” now

3 Likes

You are not going to like my answer, but here it is.

You have to accept the fact that you need more recovery as you get older, and to make progress you are going to have to give something up.

If you do not, over training is in your future, and some people can never ride after that.

8 Likes

+1 for prioritizing recovery and you probably want to switch your plan to 2:1. Here is a link to a recent comment from the coaches in another thread on a similar topic.

8 Likes

That’s some good mileage and pace there @ozmadman.

The coaches may chime in but in the meantime here’s what I’ve gleaned from the forum and how I handle the issue you describe.

  1. Recovery is paramount - and when we grow stronger, faster.
  2. The training plans are not built expecting 100% compliance, but more in the 70-80% range.
  3. Generally the shorter, higher intensity workouts are during the week and Saturday and Sunday rides are the longer, more Zone 2 based workouts, either pure Z2 or Z2 with sprints/ surges etc thrown in - i.e. workouts that are easier to do outside. For me the key to doing the workouts outside is to get the theme of them right rather than the absolute of them (solo rides that is).
  4. I try and do my club rides on Saturday mornings which are almost always longer/ more intense than what’s on my plan (Currently 100 mile Gravel, moderate) - I then do/change my planned workouts according to that - usually nothing on the Saturday, and either the planned workout (or equivalent) or lesser on the Sunday. If a really huge ride on the Saturday then just a Recovery ride on the Sunday.
  5. I, like many, hate seeing “red”on my SYSTM calendar, but since I’ve become more flexible with my plans - I usually do 85% plus exactly as is - I feel much better for it, without the guilt I always used to feel.
  6. Sometimes, I just throw the plan completely out of the window temporarily - e.g. I had a rough non-cycling week last week and really needed a long outdoor ride come Monday - and the late Autumn weather was superb. So instead of a rest day I went for a 120km ride and loved every minute of my “mental health” ride. I then felt so good afterwards that I just completed the rest of the week’s plan as is, without reducing it. But I knew I had a Recovery week to follow so it was carefully considered.

So in summary, allow yourself some flexibility, and a general principle would be to swap out rides rather than double up. Doubling up too often will inevitably lead to problems down the line.

9 Likes

Thanks all. Its what I really knew already just needed a kick up the a*** and someone to tell me it’s ok and don’t feel guilty. I have come to realise as I have got older that I have an all or nothing mentality which extends into my other interests too. Everything to the extreme!! with some impatience thrown in. It can be good but knowing when to back down and accept it is the hard thing, cheers all :grinning: I can always delete a workout I suppose and then I won’t see red in more ways than one!!!

7 Likes

Yep, that’s The Trick!

:heart:

4 Likes

Some great advice here. Remember, more is not better. It’s difficult being your own coach but when in doubt return to this thread and the podcast. You can still train hard, you just need to recover hard as well. Be ruthlessly compassionate with yourself.

Cheers,
Spencer

12 Likes

As many will say and I can personnally testifiy, recovery is vastly more important now that we are ‘older’. 2:1 plans and if you need it, an extra day of recovery/rest are way more important. The good thing is that we have decades of muscle memory so that riding long distances actually becomes easier than when we were younger.
As to the training plans, 80% is good, 90% better, 100%, who are we kidding it really is a goal but not something we can or should strive for. There’s another post on the podcast on what to pay attention to for training.
As to the weekends, enjoy. Do the club ride. Just remember they may leave you feeling drained and you may need an extra day of recovery after (Monday’s are usually rest days, but I’d recommend doing something light like Recovery Spin just to keep the ‘juices flowing’ or a short brisk walk).
Lastly, and it wasn’t discussed but watch your hydration levels. You MUST stay hydrated enough. Being dehydrated has a larger effect as we age. What we could tolerate in our 40s we can’t in our 60s.

9 Likes

I would also add that sleep and refueling (even while riding) become more important as well.

6 Likes

Personally, I try to avoid sleeping while riding🙂

5 Likes

Isn’t there something called a sleep cycle?

10 Likes

I need to listen to this podcast! re mixing in the club rides, I just replace the weekend session with the club ride.

On a different note: I am 54 and while I have cycled all my life (including some long tours), only just joined a club for road cycling last year. One thought re getting (or not getting) dropped, although I really am only just a beginner in such things. Join a different club! (if you are lucky enough to have the choice) A decent club should never let a rider be dropped unless they are a club that only focuses on race training on their club rides. Where I am in the UK there are about five clubs in the nearest towns all with a very different ethos. One of the clubs treats every ride as a race training ride (they go about 25 mph/40kpm), another claims to average 19 but people I know report of riders being dropped quite regularly. Then there is a club with much slower average for those who mainly prefer the scenery. Through mainly luck, I was fortunate to join a different club with a no drop policy and they have different groups doing speeds of 18, 19 or 20+ mph, you join the group that you feel best suits you. If the speed is too much they wait for the slowest rider and next week you join the slower group as you realise that maybe it was too much that week. I am not criticising the clubs that do drop people, they may be focused on a certain goal, but if like me you feel difficult when getting dropped (or maybe worse actually lost), then I would recommend looking around for alternatives.

4 Likes

Hi thanks for your reply. My club does have different group ride speeds and I generally ride in the red (16-18mph average) group which is fine( it’s always nearer the 18mph TBH) and has a no drop policy and we wait at tops of hills if there is a straggler . We take turns at the front or many should do. I was on the front for quite a bit of the time sometimes doubling up with another few riders. I was on my heavier winter bike (11.5kgs) with mudguards whilst others had their light bikes. It was quite windy with a head on wind on the way back. I had already done nearly 200 miles that week before that day on the same bike, so basically I was tired and probably didn’t drink/eat enough. Sometimes the ride speeds do creep up a bit depending on the terrain. The last 5 miles or so tends to involve a mad dash to the clubhouse so the speeds can increase somewhat and basically I was stuffed on the last short hill about a mile from the finish coming in a few minutes after the rest. Lesson learned, more rest/more drink/more food !! ha ha !

1 Like

I’m 54 and been using SUF/SYSTM for about 4-5 years and really feel the benefits - I feel stronger every year. I get that recovery is important and also the weight/strength training is key for older athletes. My question is - do the training plans factor in age as well as your 4DP profile when assigning workouts? Ie more rest/recovery sessions. Maybe there could be recommendations for doing 3:1 or 2:1 weeks based on age and 4DP. I would def recommend the strength and yoga for over 50. I would also agree don’t stress about missed or changing sessions up to suit your schedule- consistency and enjoyment more important than compliance

6 Likes

Yes, that is an interesting question. On the “Live half Monty” video on Youtube with Neal and Mac where Susie Snyder does a live Half Monty test there is a section on there where Mac discusses a graph showing the various 4 metrics/ power outputs etc gleaned from thousands of athletes, male and female broken down into different age groups. It is apparently from these that they are able to give a pretty good estimate of a persons abilities, combined with their results from their own Half Monty test. So yes, back to your question, how much of this info is loaded into a persons training plan as you say based on their age if any?

As regards the 3:1 vs 2:1 SYSTM/ Sufferfest do recommend the age of 55 as an age to consider 2:1 plans. Naturally, some will need to do that at an earlier age and others will cope with 3:1 until older, but it is a guide.

2 Likes

Thanks Craig - yep still happy with 3:1 if heading into an event and then 2:1 post event and if just looking at maintaining

2 Likes

This bed bike also shows up in one of the shorts at the end of a SYSTM video, but I couldn’t remember which.

8 Likes

A general rule I use when writing customized plans: if the athlete is over 50, then I recommend a 2:1 plan. But it really depends on experience, fitness level, goals and time available to train. The misconception arises when folks start thinking that 3:1 is better than 2:1. It’s not, the key finding the right dose of intensity/volume to cause an adaptation during the ensuing recovery. Is the training plan improving fitness/performance? If not, opt for more recovery.
Oftentimes when an athlete is not improving the natural response is to train more (harder/longer). That’s where coaching comes in either through The Knowledge podcasts or direct conversation to put everything in perspective. Coaching is as much an art as it is science.

7 Likes

3:1 vs 2:1 At 69, I find that during those 3 or 2 weeks, I sometimes need more recovery after hard workouts than is in the plan. I don’t “feel” like I need a week of recovery after those 3 or 2 weeks of workouts, but rather more during those 3 or 2 weeks, so have been using 3:1 and will insert additional recovery workouts and move the remaining workouts forward accordingly, extending the plan. There is probably some flaw in my reasoning here, but that’s what I’ve been doing so far.

3 Likes