The 4 Fundamentals 40+ Novice Triathletes Need to Consider
Yesterday I raced the BRAT Triathlon in a new PB of 2.10, and after the finish I was chatting to a guy in transition from my AG that had also finished. He told me that it was his first standard and that he had just done a 2.44, I congratulated him and suppressed a smile as he had a decent TT Bike and an Aero Helmet, nothing wrong with that but he was also carrying at least 10kg of fat around his middle. I see this all too often in the over 40s AGs.
Older triathletes will probably have more disposable income and potentially more time on their hands, most people I know in triathlon in their 40’s are professional’s and don’t have young families. The 40+ AGs are well represented at most events and the top end is extremely strong, but with so many middle aged (MAMIL’s & MAWIL’s) taking up the sport, what do they want to get from it and how should they look to improve.
Why did I get into triathlon? Thats simple, to get fit and have a bit of pride in myself. For quite a few years I improved in a modest way but that seemed to level off about two years ago, so I decided that if I was going to improve I was going to do this properly. So what does that mean? it means embracing a lifestyle that will be conducive to improved performances in triathlon.
1. Stop Drinking Alcohol
…or at least cut down massively (So many of my friends drink a glass of wine every evening) there is nothing wrong with going out and not drinking. Look at what you are eating, its not rocket science, cut out sugar filled empty carbs, processed trans fat meals and fizzy drinks. Eat what your grandma used to cook, embrace fruit and vege and eat good fish and meats. If you are going to eat crap, moderate it. I have a rule that post race, I eat and drink what I like.
2. Ask Yourself Why You Are Doing Triathlon
In my humble opinion triathlon should only be fun for children, fun for me is a night out at the theatre, cinema or watching football. If you are doing it for fun you will not improve, however triathlon should not be something you dislike. It should be what gives you a buzz every time you think about it. When you turn up at an event you should be on a high and the enjoyment comes from knowing you have performed the best that you can, either in races or training.
3. Less Reading, More Moving
Stop reading magazines and articles on tips, kit, training advice, nutrition and how a certain pro does something, you will probably have the money to buy small improvements, but they will be small. Train, that means swim, bike and run and do it consistently this will give you your biggest gains. Learn to stretch and do strength work, train with others if need be but remember only you will improve you, and be honest with yourself. Just Train.
4. Opinions Are Like Belly Buttons, Everyone Has Got One
Just because someone tells you something do not take it as gospel. Question everything you get told in triathlon. Everyone has an opinion but even the best are always learning. What I am telling you is my opinion, it doesn’t mean its right, but wow when I listen to a bunch of triathletes talking about the sport I often cringe as people get a bit of advice that they hang onto like a dog with a bone and can’t see beyond that.
Once you are at a stage where you are competitive in your AG which is a tough one to be specific on but (within 7 mins of AG 3rd at a sprint and 20 – 25 mins of AG third at a standard) then start looking at the stuff that will give the small improvements and you will see the benefits, too many novices get it the wrong way round. Consistent training, hard work and a disciplined lifestyle is what will make the big initial gains.
Rob Mathews is another one of our amazing readers who has been kind enough to impart some triathlon wisdom to his fellow Working Class triathletes. Rob took part in his first triathlon at age 39! and as most of us do, he fell in love with the sport.
I took part in my first triathlon aged 39 years old and my reason for giving it a try was two fold, firstly I was extremely unfit and I wanted to get back to a decent level of fitness, (as a youth I was a county runner). Secondly I had a friend that was into his triathlon and convinced me this was the best sport to get into and would be totally addicted after my first taste.
So after a bit of discussion and suggestions we agreed that I and my friend would enter the Thame Sprint Triathlon. My greatest fear building up to the race was of actually being able to complete the 400m swim which I was’t sure I would be able to do. I purchased my first pedals for my hybrid/mountain bike managing to fall over a couple of times and borrowed my wife’s bike helmet. I had about four weeks training which probably was just about getting up enough fitness to complete the 5km run.
That day I fell in love with triathlon, my swim actually went far better than I expected and I think I was around 8 mins, then hit the bike I remember going as hard as I could in 44 mins (Not exactly lightning fast) and finally I hit the run which was just utter utter agony, I managed to pop both of my calves and it was an effort not to walk. I fell over the line in about 1.25 utterly destroyed but with two thoughts, one I had utterly loved every minute of the race and two I was going to get better at this game. My friend managed to win the race which was a bit of an eye opener for me as I hadn’t realised how good he was.
Well eight years later, I am officially middle aged, but 20kgs lighter and fitter than I was when I was 30, I have completed in over 50 events from duathlons, sprints, standards, and Half IronMans, I am there or there abouts in AG I would have won my AG in Thame Triathlon this year (yes I go back every year) if I hadn’t been DQd for dangerous cycling but that is another story. This year was all about speed, which included my first sub hour sprint, my first sub 2.20 standard in 2.16 and hopefully my first sub 4.45 HIM.
I have learnt a lot over the years much of it through trial and error and more often than not ending up with an injury, but I like to think now that I am an experienced Triathlete with a great deal of knowledge, I don’t know it all and would never tell anyone what they should be doing, but I have an opinion on most aspects of triathlon, from racing to training to managing a family and with a demanding job and also about being an older triathlete.
You can follow Rob Mathews on Twitter @robmathews66
If you are finding pain in your knees and hips, you may be running with flat feet