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06/30/2013

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Russ Brandt

Lots of antioxidant rich salads, sleep and ice baths after long runs within 5 weeks of an A race work wonders for me ( now 40+). I've been tinkering with a few more things and collecting some blood data on myself and will let you know if they work.

Stewthebassman

Hi Joe, at 51, most of my training is running. I kayak and mountain bike recreationally. I can only effectively do about four runs a week. Everything works best, as you say, when my food and sleep are working well. The more sleep the better, meaning for me 7 to 8 hours. And my food is along paleo lines, no grains, a little yogurt (full fat, no flavor) no legumes. Thanks for the post, this is a hot topic for me and probably many other guys!

David Tichy

Hi Joe. I am a 65yr old racing cyclist and yes I have noticed that recovery is slower as I have aged. I do find time off the bike for recovery (missing days) is counter productive as it produces muscle inflammation, and hence I find active recovery of easy riding more beneficial. Your "recovery boots" look interesting, but I haven't found the conventional compression socks to be of any great help. I stick with your "homebrew" recovery drink and a good muscle rub cream before and after any hard rides. I also find a vibra massager helps in the mornings and stretching morning and night to be helpful. Cheers David

Charles Kemp

I am 65 and I have been following your blog for a while. I walk 6 days a week, I average 5 miles in 75 - 80 minutes each of those mornings. I also bike on the weekends 17 - 30 miles on Saturday and about 17 on Sunday morning. My recovery is sleep, I sleep about 8 hours a night. If I feel to tired to do my walk or bike ride I sleep in that morning, which I have to say happens maybe once every 2 weeks. I have been doing this for about 30 months and I have lost 85 pounds. And I have managed to be taken off all of my medications, also. I am using my morning walks or biking as my blood pressure medication and it is working and my doctor is very happy with it.

Linda

I definitely need more time between hard workouts (either on the bike or in the gym) now that I'm in my mid-50s. I also find that after a hard workout, I crave protein way more than carbs - my favorite recovery meal is eggs scrambled in butter with some veggies and (previously cooked) sweet potato. That could be because I have deliberately cut back on carbs the last few years and perhaps am using fat more efficiently.

Peter

I'm not quite that old yet (I'm 42), but I have noticed definite differences as I have aged. Specifically the sleep thing, as you mention: I NEED my 8 hours. If my son is up in the night and I have to be up with him for more than a few minutes, it messes with the next couple of days for me.

The other thing is food. I was an ovo-lacto vegetarian for about 20 years (22 years for red meat, 20 for fish and fowl). I didn't pick up triathlon until about 3 years ago (my sport before that was always rock and ice climbing, which has, um, a very different endurance sensibility). After I'd been training for endurance for about two years, I realized my body needed much more protein and I had to drop my vegetarianism and even, in fact, become nearly paleo on many days (I've also dropped gluten). I had thought this was all about the ability of the body to work with whatever it's got in youth combined with the needs of endurance training, but the studies you cite indicate that it may also have to do with the body's needs for protein vs CHO as we age. Whatever it is, I feel it!

Another thing about the aging body is how mine responds to the negative stuff I put in. In my 20s, I could drink a bottle of wine and be fine at the work the next day. Today, I often can feel it the next day if I have a second glass over dinner. My sleep, dehydration and sinuses all feel off-kilter for a day.

Finally, a possible confounding factor here: I pay much closer attention in my 40s to how my body feels, how it responds to stimuli (both work and food), and what I feed myself than I did in my 20s. So I feel better physically and I am more fit than I was then (even when I was climbing all the time), but I wasn't paying as close attention then to allow for a better comparison.

Martin

While I accept the inevitability of getting worse as I get older it hasn't happened so far.

I trained extremely hard 2006-2009. 2009 was a great year, I reached 50 and excelled on the bike. Amongst other things I was the first person in our town to do 100 in under 4 hours, set a new PB for 12 hours, came in the top 200 overall in the Etape and did the London-Edinburgh-London (1400km) in under 4 days despite atrocious conditions.

After that year I took a few years off serious riding as a trade with my wife to allow here to do some study while I looked after the home, then doing a long distance walk together.

I started training seriously again almost exactly a year ago. I started in the expectation that if I got close to the level I was doing in 2009 I would be happy.

Well actually I am now riding even better than ever. Last Wednesday I set a new all time "real" FTP when I rode a 25TT on my road bike as a test. I did 310W, 5 more than best I achieved 2006-2009. My capacity to do repeated hard days seems undiminished, on a recent tour of the French mountains I could still put in 120mile rides with 5000m+ of climbing and TSB -100.

I don't really do anything special in terms of recovery. Actually the opposite, my recovery drink of preference in France was a "Monaco" - cold lager with a shot of grenadine. Atm I am more concerned with losing weight than recovering so most days are negative calorie (I am not fat, 5'8" 158lbs, I just want to try to lose a bit in preparation for a challenge next year.)

Wrt to the subject here I think there are 4 interesting things
- At all levels psychology is almost as important as physiology. If you think your performance will get worse as you get older it will. Moreover, and crucially here, it will probably get worse at a quicker rate than if you choose to be in denial. Jens Voigt should be every "aging" athlete's hero. Just look at him yesterday 40+ and still doing massive turns at the front of the peloton.
Sorry but his attitude is the one you should be adopting. The way you start this article, looking with nostalgia at the way things used to be back in the day, just puts you in completely the wrong state of mind.

- Age>Smarter. When I started training again last year I did almost all of it on a Wattbike. This has a great display that shows how you are pedalling. I worked on this and now ride better than I did before. "Better" means 2 things
>Power is transferred from muscles to road more efficiently
>Power delivery is smoother which means it's less tiring and recovery is easier.

- I had a bit of luck. The Wattbike gives 5-15W higher power readings than my Powertap. I didn't realise this when I started and got a massive boost to my confidence when I was started recording good numbers. By the time I started riding my bike+Powertap I was used to seeing the same numbers I had back in 2009 and though it was a bit hard at first to reproduce them it wasn't too tough. What was especially good was being comfortable on the Wattbike doing 60mins plus at 300W+. This got me over the, undoubtedly mental, barrier of thinking 300=hard on my road bike.

Bottom line is if you think you are old and getting worse you will be right.

If you think you are old but can still get better you will be wrong but only in the long term. More immediately you may well turn out to be correct.

AreniMotion

How much more effective are these boots versus some recover leggings from 2XU or Skins? Seems like the same premise...just a lot more complicated.

David Kamp

I'm a 66-10/12 year old male. "Older" might be over 60, not 50 years of age. At 50 I felt there were residual performance levels and reasonable recovery times compared with earlier years, while after 60 the need for more recovery was quite noticeable, and of course performance dropped considerably. Most performance-age relationships are on a smooth curve, however it felt as though there was a step function or discontinuity in the curve right at 60. Also, more injuries cropped up after 60. Look at the finishers lists in any ultra marathon footrace, and the conspicuous absence of runners in the 60-69 age group is striking. Masters swimming and bicycling are different, as old (>60) athletes seem to fare better in those sports. Ballroom dancing, anyone?

Jim

A long warm up, sometimes it includes a pre-exercise Jacuzzi for 5 to 10 minutes, followed by a long cool down of easy swimming (regardless of the sport I'm training) really seems to help my aging and arthritic body with recovery. Great post Joe--I always make the point when I counsel the athletes I coach that the generic plans don't specify a targeted age group, which is why so many seem to get injured using them . . .

Rick Brown

Hi Joe, I am 58 1/2 year old male and trail ride 4 to 5 days a week at South Mountain in Phoenix. Usually Monday,Wednesday,Friday,Saturday & Sunday. I very the riding intensity and distance but all the rides include climbs. I take Cytomax before each ride. I feel a little sore all the time but never to the point of not being able to ride. It has taken about a year to be able to do this but it seems to work for me. I think you just have to listen to your body. it will let you know when it's too much. Thanks for all the great advice over the years!

Steve Stolarz

Joe, if I wasn’t an old lab rat this wouldn’t be any fun. On those hard days I push the limits and sometime later find myself more drained and pained than I could’ve anticipated. Initially after the workout my legs feel fatigued, but okay – later, they feel like they’re going to explode from the inside out. The funny thing is that the legs don’t feel that bad until I’ve cooled down four or five hours later; after I’ve taken recovery drink, massaged, stretched and eaten, etc. Even when I eat again at dinner, it seems that no amount of protein, vegetables or other carbohydrates will help quell the sick fatigue and weight in my legs. Weird, only ice cream with chocolate seems to quiet the pain – I can feel the relief seep into my legs almost immediately and subsequently, into my whole body.
I’ve recently started taking 600mg of Ibuprofen when I first start feeling the stiffness settle in and that seems to mediate the pain quite well. I’ve read that some take the Ibuprofen before they ride – any insights would be appreciated.
It seems that I’m now more susceptible to the heat and cold. I’ve found that avoiding significant dehydration seems to lessen the pain and difficulty of recovery; although the heat and humidity of South Florida in the summer make that nearly impossible. While on two or three hour rides I can’t drink enough to stay hydrated. I’m now drinking somewhere between 32 and 60 ounces of water (as much as I can) before I leave the house – this may be the most significant thing I do for both performance and recovery.
I sometimes ride with guys well into their 70s and who’ve most recently won at the Worlds in 2010 – they’ve accepted that they can’t train like the used to and recover. Though they can still hang at 30mph they don’t pull and drop when they feel they’ve got what they wanted – for them recovery is going as hard as ever, but not for as long or as often.

Steve Stolarz

One other significant thing: This past spring I tested my thought that I was getting muscle pulls in the gluts and sacroiliac strains because I tended to mash and muscle big gears and that I wasn’t able to get in as many quality work days because of accumulated fatigue. I went to the local velodrome on a borrowed track bike 2 or 3 times a week for a month and learned about faster cadences. Since, I’ve continued to experiment with using smaller gears and higher cadence to go faster – not only am I going faster and my endurance better on hard rides, but my legs are better recovered when I go out hard the next time. Since, I haven’t missed a hard work out because of injury or accumulated fatigue – the thought is that the higher rpms equate to less muscle damage than higher load and therefore, easier and faster recovery. Did I mention I’m going faster and longer?

George Uhl

As a 56 year old that trains just about every day, I find that I have to be mindful about all that I do. When it comes to recovery, I let my body dictate to me what needs to be done. If I'm tired and it's too hard to get out of bed at 5am to ride the group ride, then I surrender to the pillow magnet. If I've done consecutive hard rides and I need more than an extra day's rest, then I go easy for as many rides as it takes until I feel fresh - usually two but rarely more. I can tell by my HR at the start of a ride whether my body's tired or not and I set my effort level based on that.

You get the picture.

Joe Friel

AreniMotion--The compression of Recovery Boots is _many_ times greater than that of compression leggings.

Dana Merry

For background context, I turned 50 this year and have been competing in triathlons for 25 years, having done over 200. I've experienced all the things mentioned in the blog but am still performing at a very high level, often in the top 5 overall. While rest/recovery is important, for me it's about distilling the amount of training to the absolute essential. No workout is wasted. And most importantly, unlike when I was younger and doing high-mileage workouts and racing long course with little recovery time, for the past several years I've mainly raced sprint distances with an occasional olympic race. So while my training intensity is high, frequency and distance are less. With overall volume less it reduces my recovery time and chance of injury. Since my goal is to race until I die, I've adapted this strategy and given up my long-course ambitions (for now), which is a trade off I'm willing to make.

Les

Getting older: The good, bad & ugly;
Good - At 60 I was able to drop 5 kilo (12pds), by cleaning up the last 10% of my diet.
Bad - Crashed on ice last Jan. C9 whiplash. Flared up again after hitting 12:00h weeks in Base3 & has shut me down after after a furious Fondo? (1:20@L4/5.5h total)
Ugly - L4/5,T12, C4/5,9 Active life + car accidents. I think the chronic injuries may finally shut me down for good.

Dennis Daivdson

Hey Joe...I'm a big fan. I am 60 years old and ride perhaps 200 miles per week on average. Two nights per week I do a fast training ride with the race crowd and they all know who I am so I must be making some sort of impression. Maybe they cant believe I am still capable of hanging with them and putting some of them in the hurt locker occasionally. I don't race much anymore as all we have here in the Indy area is crits and I value my skin and bike too much to chance that insanity any longer. My recovery is to do a very slow rides in between the hard nights with plenty of yoga type stretching. I take in plenty of fats including coconut oil and Kerry Gold butter and do at least one green protein shake every day. I find if I can nap a few hours prior to a hard training ride, my performance is much better. Secret weapons...beet juice and beta alanine. I kid you not, they work. Ciao

Jeff Dorminey

As a fifty-six year old cyclist who has been racing for 22 years (road, mtn & cyclocross) I am constantly trying new methods to help my recovery (within reason) a couple of things that seem to work for me are: daily supplement of magnesium, taking branch chain amino acids after a hard ride and not letting myself get dehydrated, depleted of electrolytes or “bonking” during a ride. Bike fit is huge; if something is off just a little I’ll get sore achy knees/hip. And of course taking recovery days/weeks as needed. It’s pretty easy for me to tell, #1 sign for me is not sleeping good and letting little things bug me.

Bruce

Ditto what Dana wrote. I'm 56, have done about 100 tri's over the past 15 years, usually finish in the top 10% of my AG. I've eliminated "junk" miles and race at about the same paces I did when I was 40.

The Recovery Boots looks cool, but I'll bet they're out of my price range. I use a foam roller for calves, quads, hams, and ITB as a cheaper alternative that works pretty well, for me at least. Beer seems to work pretty well too!

Jason Richter

I'm 30 years old, so no where near the 40,50, and 60+ athletes that have been posting so far on this blog. But I have noticed big differences in going from just 20 to 30. I do road cycling races in Nebraska and do see that most of the riders cat 2-4 typically get a lot faster with age. Not quite sure what leads to this other than just technology or being more efficient.

Caroline

I am 48 and noticed a big change in my need for protein during and after exercise -- and big improvements because of it. I'm a mtn bike/road racer. I used to run marathons and play a ton of soccer. I could run for hours on just carbs for breakfast and carbs for midrun snacks. A few years ago, I slowed down on the running and ramped up the biking. My boyfriend introduced me to eggs and/or oatmeal for breakfast before riding. It made a tremendous improvement in my endurance, which had been lacking as I got older and I had started to get headaches after big rides. Now in this past year, I've found that if I have half a protein bar (10g protein) at my ride's two-hour mark, I am energized for another 1-2 hours, and my recovery is markedly improved as well. (I still have carb snacks, GU etc, at the hour marks or when I feel the need). After 3+ hour rides, I'll eat another 1/2 protein bar after the ride or immediately eat a nice lunch. My recovery is much better and my headaches have disappeared.

Nicola

I am 41, not really old, and running for three years now (70-85 Km/w, 6 days a week, PB on HM 1:29).
My athletic age is pretty low though (does it make a difference?).
Never done a double, but typically I feel recovered in half a day most times, especially after interval training sessions, while long runs, they feel more taxing.
I am vegetarian since I was 17 (and been vegan for a few year in my 30s), so proper nutrition is quite a challenge, but I have found my way.
Nutrition is the #1 factor influencing my recovery, I can feel it from my muscles, they still sore when I have not properly refueled them (which means good post-workout carbo-proteic loading).
Sleep influences more my mood and probably performance, rather than recovery. Even after a rest day, if I haven't slept at least 6 hours, I have a general sense of tiredness. I can see it from various parameters that I have a lower efficiency.

Andoni

I am 54 and I practice Triathlon. As long as I am becoming older I feel more and more tired after my training sessions. I think this is normal, but if I have had a bad day at work, if I have been nervous or stressed then the recovery after the training session is even worst. I have observed a very close relation between nervousness during the work day and recovery, even i feel pain in my muscles

D

I certainly agree recovery becomes more difficult as we age. For sure, when I was younger, gaining fitness was more difficult than recovery. Now, recovery is far more difficult than gaining fitness. Please don't take this out of context, but what happens off the bike is now more important than what happens on it. After all, if the same level of commitment is not given to recovery as training, one will never reach their full potential. Diet, rest, sleep, all become extremely important. There are several things I do to improve recovery. These are in no particular order;
1) I have to take more recovery days between hard work outs and generally can only tolerate 2/week. Easy days HAVE to be zones 1-2.
2) In the build period, I will go to bed an hour earlier 2-3 days week just for the additional sleep which is always good.
3) On harder or longer rides, my wife will fix me what we call a "green smoothie" which consists of spinach leaves, frozen fruit such as pineapple, various berries, peaches, & pears with a little water all mixed in a blender. She adds a dash of stevia for sweetening (the real stuff, not store bought). This makes for the perfect recovery drink and quite tasty to boot.
4) I adopt a recovery on demand model. I almost always need every 3rd week for recovery. However, I will continue to train hard that 3rd week if feeling well. But, I will take the 4th week for recovery w/o fail. Furthermore, I am never afraid to can a hard workout if I can plainly see I'm not hitting my numbers as expected. It is ALWAYS better to be a little undertrained than overtrained!
5) A solid base period is an absolute. Frankly, I've never gotten this right until this year....what a difference. Amazing how hard it truly is to ride zone 2 for hours on end in the LCR. The payoff is huge however.
6) One of the more important components of recovery certainly is diet. I have to fuel the body w "high octane" fuels such as fresh fruits and vegetables. I have to make this a priority as there is certainly a correlation between recovery times and diet. In other words, recovery is shortened if the body is fueled properly.
7) I am not opposed to using NSAIDS, such as ibuprofen, after harder efforts. I am not saying they necessarily aid recovery but they certainly reduce the pain after taxing efforts.

Curtis

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