If it seems that my obsessive compulsive personality is fairly obvious in my writing I am put in the shade by Joe Friel, founder of Training Peaks, elite coach and author of a number of books on training for endurance athletes. I have just read one of those books Fast After Fifty. He was 70 when he wrote it and I suspect the title should have been This is how I’m Gonna be Fast After Seventy. It’s an informative read and some of his wisdom will find its way into my training regime.
In the first chapter we learn what age does to you and it ain’t pretty …
To go on churning out fast times in the pool your shoulders have to stand up extremely well and you need a remarkable tolerance of the view from the waterline of the inside of a pool. At least it’s weightless.
The runner on the other hand has to absorb their body weight as it hits the ground over and over. Quads and calves work to absorb momentum even as the muscles extend – eccentric contraction. In cycling muscles shorten as they contract – concentric contraction – and suffer less fatigue as a consequence.
At first glance things look pretty good for the cyclist but that graph only goes to age 64! But it seems that the niggling little injuries are fewer – just don’t come off your bike and sustain the big ones.
As well as a prescription for training Joe encourages weight lifting and discusses recovery strategies, sleep and diet.
A very worthwhile read, I recommend it.
But once again the research is into the persisting older athlete. There is little to indicate what the reforming couch potato can expect to achieve in his or her later years. No good looking backwards for answers. Before the boomers took up jogging older folk were expected to take it easy, nothing too strenuous. We are pioneers.