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Hello Joe,
Thanks for the great blog and books you have written over the years. This isn't exactly on topic and perhaps a it is a topic for a different blog post. What is your opinion on research that anaerobic work such as VO2 max intervals may lead to heart (ventricular) arrhythmias? Is this something the older athlete who's been doing these types of intervals for a long time needs to be worried about?


Joe, thanks a lot for posting this great series! I've just turned 63, and due to a series of surgeries (they come in threes) and a bike crash injury, I'm starting at square 1. Part 4 will help immensely in returning to form, which will take considerable time. I've worked with coaches (running) in the last 10 years. My first question is how he/she deals with an older athlete. Generally coaches say they follow such-and-such a plan, say Daniel's Running Formula, and it should work for an athlete of any age. Hmmm...My experience says more rest/recovery as age increases, and now with your valuable advice, more high intensity. With the running boom athletes now in their 60s and 70s, there will be increased demand for this type of information. I hope we can bend those curves of age and performance a little in the favorable direction. We need more athletes in the 60+ divsions to keep it competitive! In ultramarathon running the participation falls off dramatically after age 60. For my part I need just one more silver buckle at the Western States 100 miler to make it 10. Pumped!

Joe Friel

Brian--I searched PubMed for all the related topics you mention and didn't find any such research. Could you provide me with a reference on this?


Hello Joe,
Well, it was my cardiologist that mentioned this to me. He has given me the thumbs up for picking up bike racing again at the age of 38 but the fact that he mentioned this occasionally haunts me when I'm doing intervals on my computrainer. BTW, my cardiologist also works with the Quick Step cycling team here in Belgium and his brother wrote one of the articles listed below. I really apreciate your scientific approach and would be very keen on getting your opinion on this topic.

MontL, Sambola A, Brugada J et al. Long-lasting sport practice and lone atrial fibrillation. Eur Heart J. 2002;23:477–482


KarjalainenJ, Kujala UM, Kaprio J et al. Lone atrial fibrillation in vigorously exercising middle aged men: case-control study. BMJ. 1988;316:1784–1785.

Joe Friel

Hi Brian--Thanks for the refs. I used those to track down the topic on PubMed. There are several studies that examined atrial fibrillation in active men. If one is predisposed by genetics then it is certainly a good idea to get checked out regularly by your cardiologist.

Trygve Gillebo

Hello Joe
Thanks for an interseting blog and especially these articles related to age and performance. I`m 48 old and my question is; for how many weeks do you recommend these Zone 5 intervalls ? Why not more than once a week ? Do you think 8-12 weeks with zone 4 works are required before as a base, or can you jump earlier into the zone 5 workouts ?



Joe Friel

Trygve--I would aim for 8-12 weeks of these within every 5-6 month block of training. Lots of room for individualization there. Research by Billat in Paris showed that there is an insignificant increase in VO2 max by doing that workout twice compared with once per week. But the risk of injury increases with 2 such workouts weekly. I would stringly suggest a few weeks of zone 4 training before doing these intervals.

Rob Slocum

I'm a 61-year-old rower with many age group successes (triathlete from age 41-48, rowing since--riding the bike a lot the past two years). New to your post. I tend to do less intense exercise and more extensive exercise than many, but perhaps in your ballpark. Or perhaps not, but set that aside. Here's my question:

When I'm tapered for a key regatta I seem to have an extra ten beats of max heart rate for the first day. Have you ever heard of this?

Joe Friel

Rob S--Hard to say for sure. But there are a couple of possibilities. 1. As fitness is lost, even a small amount, HR tends to rise at any given intensity. 2. It could also simply be that when rested your muscles are able to work harder than they ordinarily would and so HR is higher. 3. Some combination of 1 and 2.

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