Older Triathlete Recovery Program

older triathlete recovery

That’s me a few years ago, finishing one race or other, probably Lake Placid?

I was talking to an enthusiastic younger triathlete the other day. At the end of the conversation, when I had to leave, he asked a simple question that has a complex answer, “What do I do about recovery?”

I said it depends on many factors, including your level of conditioning, recent injuries if any, skill level, and furthermore it takes longer as you age. I had to go, so I said I’d put a post on my blog about it. This is that post!

There are three keys to my older triathlete recovery program, which involve both mental and physical recovery:

Damage Assessment: If I’ve had a tough race or workout, as I approach 80 years of age, I first look for signs of strain or potential injuries. I also look for signs of mild depression. I take a day off, go for a walk, and see how my body and mind feel about things. I used to recover in a day or so, even from a full Ironman. Now I need at least two days, and sometimes as many as three days after hard workouts. It can take a day or two to spot problems. A good sports massage can also help reveal spots needing extra attention. I try to be kind to myself at this stage.

Passive Recovery: Once I’m sure I’m out of the woods for strains and injuries, I spend a day or two resting and walking. I also check my morning pulse. If it’s up five beats or more, I add another day of rest and assess my mood for burnout. I’m looking for evidence of overtraining. I also start stretching again, if my muscles are ready for it. I never stretch sore muscles. Once ready, I go to the next stage.

Active Recovery: This I first do in the pool with short swims, and water runs to see if my legs are ready for the bike or run. Then I add social rides and short runs. In my case, with PAD, my runs are as much walking as running, until I’m fully recovered.

Then active recovery merges into training.

All the while I’m watching for signs of trouble, before initiating a real build for the next race. So far there has always been a next race. This time it’s the White Lake Half Ironman in eight days. Great people, nice lake swim, flat bike course in the countryside, out and back run. Great training for Worlds in August.

And that’s it.

Hope that helps,

-kev aka FitOldDog

PS Encourage your older friends to start training for aging, ASAP. It’s the ultimate endurance sport, trust me, that’s where I am, and so glad to be able to keep up my training. I’m one lucky guy.

older triathlete recovery
MRI scans through the thighs of three guys. Grey is muscle, white is fat, clear ring around the central white spot (bone marrow) is the femoral bone. Note the loss of both muscle and bone mass in the sedentary guy.

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.