Training in my 50’s

I am almost 55 years old! I am grateful that the pandemic interrupted my competitive triathlon career. I loved long course training but became concerned that it wasn’t perhaps the best path forward for aging.

During all of this, I felt menopause looming. I recently skipped two periods and find my body attempting to restart the engine every hour to hour a half at night with hot flashes. I now have n=1 evidence that a lack of sleep is sub-optimal for recovery. All of this upheaval was a perfect time to reassess my fitness going forward.

My training now looks like this:

  • Lots of zone 1-2 training for 1-2 hours per day. I run at least 5 days per week and insert additional sessions with Peloton, SkiErg and cycling. I ordered the Peloton for KT and I confess I LOVE it. Good topic for another post but the bottom line is that it can be a great tool for triathletes.
  • Opportunities to lift my HR 1-3x per week on Tuesday, Thursday and one weekend day. I do the fast stuff in conjunction with the running team I coach or the athletes I coach. Some sessions require a lot more recovery!
  • Strength training 4-6x per week for an hour. I move heavy things with push, pull, hinge and carry. One day a week I use lighter weights during my upper body session and add more reps. My last deadlift session finished with 5 reps at 180lbs. Wednesday run after leg day can be hell.  

I was fortunate that KT aka “she who must be obeyed,” decided that we should have a great home gym.  It paid off during an unexpected pandemic.  Living with my 90 year old mother-in-law reinforced the importance of maintaining strength as a priority as I age and then cardiovascular health.  

My nutrition is healthy but a lot less carbs than my competition days.  I do use gels for long runs but I am off the training sugar.  I focus on consuming 100 to 120g of protein a day to maintain my muscle; eggs, sardines, tuna, chicken, and more chicken. I am strong but I don’t look bulky. I would have to eat a hell of a lot more food to get there.

I still love to go long and I have given myself the freedom to indulge when opportunity and desire collide.  I can also admit that I am loving being fit and strong with a lot less time and effort.  

The best part is that I remain fit enough to jump into almost anything from Pickleball to an 18 mile ride on a janky city bike with a bunch of healthy 20 year olds (including the one about to be our son-in-law). My competition ego remains strong and requires no additional training!

No easy way!  

***Please note, I am NOT a strength coach. I have lots of thoughts on strength training and have been trained by some of the best (shout out to Tom Morris at Indiana University). If you are a woman wanting to get strong, get professional help. And when you do, remind your coach that your hour spent lifting is NOT fitness focused. You want to move heavy things which requires good form and plenty of rest between sets. And if you are scared to try, consider using machines in your gym as a safe and easy to learn alternative. Other resources include the book The M.A.X. Muscle Plan 2.0 by Brad Schoenfeld PhD and anything on Youtube or Instagram by Andy Galpin PhD. I also love following Wil Fleming on Instagram. He is an Olympic lifting coach using velocity based training. I lack the physical ability for Olympic lifts but damn that are fun to watch. Especially Coach Mary. She is a hell of an athlete!

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