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Training Question for the Over 40 Gang(14 posts)

Training Question for the Over 40 Gangdave_w
Nov 24, 2003 4:22 PM
Planning, plotting, scheming(bwahaha) my training plan for this winter and am trying to decide on something. I read somewhere, that older athletes benefit by leaving "some" intensity in their training year-round. I feel like this is something I want to do but have not seen any quantified or even ballpark amount of time or levels of intensity to do throughout what would otherwise be the base period. Has anyone worked with this in their program, any suggestions on what works for you?
I agreeDougSloan
Nov 24, 2003 4:28 PM
I don't know if this has been scientifically worked out, but the general consensus is that you heal and recover more slowly, gain weight faster, and lose muscle mass faster as you get older. Intensity over the whole year helps with all the above.

Some lifting helps. Group rides with faster riders, especially with hills, helps. Those two alone may be enough. Don't think you need tongue-dragging intervals, particularly if you are not racing.

Here's a website with good general information. The vast majority of ultra riders are older, so most of this may be applicable:

ooo-good website! (nm)dave_w
Nov 24, 2003 6:28 PM
re: I train in my 40's like I did in my late teens..hudsonite
Nov 24, 2003 6:08 PM
I am in my mid/late-40's and train as hard now as I did back when I was 19/20. When I was younger things were easier, but it has not stopped me training with the same intensity.

What I have found though is that I lose my conditioning faster now then when I was younger. If I keep a rigorous pace in training, with high intensity, I can pretty much do anything I want. But if I take a break for a week or two, I am going to hurt.

When it comes to cycling what works for me is hill climbing. It is gets the heart and body going for a long time and really helps my conditioning. I personally find it easier to climb a hill for an hour or two than trying to ride at a fast pace on the flats. There is also a sense of accomplishment when you get to the top of a mountain.

The same thing when riding long distance. You set a goal of a couple hundred KM's and do it. I don't think being older hurts at all. We probaly have more discipline and experience to be able to pace ourselves over long distances.

In my opinion, the key for older atheletes is to train hard while avoiding injury. It is probably good to see a doctor once and a while to make sure you are ok. If your heart and joints can take it, I do not see any reason to train at anything less than your max.
from an over 60 guy,jiggs
Nov 24, 2003 6:52 PM
I live up in Hamilton, Ontario and it gets hard during the winter to keep riding. Those hills that they were climbing during the road cycling world championship, also have stairs. 325 to be exact. About 5-6 trips up, three times a week, plus 5-10 km runs help. I also spend a couple of afternoons in the gym per week to try and keep things from falling apart. If I take time off, it is hard getting it back.
p.s. was lucking enough to mtb ride 2 hours on saturday, and 50 km on the road on sunday.
A recent suggestion from Ed and Fred at RBRKerry Irons
Nov 24, 2003 6:54 PM
They (probably coach Fred) suggest doing 20 minutes at "7 or 8" intensity where time trialing is a 9. Do this 1X or per week in the middle of a ride. Issue # 120.
Emerging ConcensusJon Billheimer
Nov 24, 2003 8:42 PM
From the training literature that I read the changing concensus seems to be to keep some intensity in one's program year round. And the older one gets the more important it becomes because of rapid detraining associated with aging. A good rule of thumb for off-season intensity is about 8 - 12% of training time in Zone 4/5. Leading up to racing season that would increase probably to 15 to 20% with a good portion of it in Zone 5. When peaking the percentage would jump to around 25%, but volume is reduced.

BTW, I'm 59 and the above guidelines seem to work for me. I'm on the bike about 6 - 8 hrs a week during the winter and do about 45 min to 1 hr of intervals or "hill climbs" on the trainer, plus a couple of 1 1/2 hr. lifting sessions per week.
Jon, what defines zones 4/5? nmmainframe
Nov 25, 2003 4:53 AM
Nov 25, 2003 7:57 AM
Thanks, Doug nm.mainframe
Nov 25, 2003 12:04 PM
re: Training Question for the Over 40 Gangpalewin
Nov 25, 2003 8:06 AM
I think the original post raises two issues: should we keep "some" intensity in our foundation mile winter training, and does age effect the answer. In his book, "The Ultimate Ride" Carmichael says that while the foundation period is mostly low intensity, we do need to keep up some higher intensity, and suggests doing this through group rides and technique drills (sprints, high cadence work, etc.) Looking at my Nov & Dec CTS coaching plans, I have a Sunday group ride (which gives me the majority of my weekly Zone4/5 time, typically 30-45 minutes worth over a 3-hour ride) plus a scattering of high cadence, flat sprints in easy gears, and bigger-gear "power starts" (again short sprints) workouts. I would estimate this amounts to around 1 hour of intensity in a 9-10 hour training week. None of the preceeding is age dependant. However, as a 56-year-old Master, my perception agrees with other posts, that it is harder for us to make up for conditioning losses than when we were younger. An image which sticks with me is the older athlete having a tug-of-war with "Time": whenever we allow any slack in the rope, "Time" takes up the slack, and we have to pull double-hard to try to get it back..."
Try it, everyone's different.hrv
Nov 25, 2003 8:13 AM
I wouldn't go overboard. Some good info. above to start. I'm leaving in some intensity as well, and only time will tell if it was enough/too much. Last year I did almost no intensity for at least 8 weeks, all base 1/2, and I payed for it: I took most of the season catching up. Haven't done any real super hard stuff, well maybe the hill repeats on the 15% hill I did yesterday did make me breathe a little harder!

I think we're talking more art here than science. And it makes a big difference what goals you have: top 10 at the state TT's vs. not being dropped on the Sat. morning group ride, etc. Make sure to focus on your limiters, if you have any! Really strong on the hills, not so much on flats? Work on developing speed on the flats; why waste time only doing hills if you s..k on the flats? You get the idea.

good luck,
In my 50s, I've figured outOldEdScott
Nov 25, 2003 8:28 AM
that rest means rest. Don't mean no 'gentle slow ride of no more than 200 miles in Zones 1 and 2,' or whatever those nutty books say.

I 'train'(ride) as much and as hard as I want for 10 months of the year. But I take two months a year (November and February) completely off. It heals the body and mind in ways I didn't need when I was younger. I really think if I didn't have total downtime twice a year, I wouldn't be able to keep riding. Everyone's different, of course.
I'm definitely over 40...DINOSAUR
Nov 25, 2003 8:52 AM
I'm 61 so I guess that makes me definitely over the hill.
I don't train with a heart rate monitor, I'm basically a milelage junky. I used to do mini time trials and note my time when I reached the ten mile mark on my favorite ride. I stopped keeping track this summer and happened to click on the time mode of my computer a couple of weeks ago at the ten mile mark and noticed that my time was about the fastest I recorded and I was not even trying. I think the best way to increase intensity is by riding with groups, as it makes you push yourself. Weight gain is an obstacle for the over the hill gain, plus a decline in upper body strength. You have to fight getting fat and weak.

I use a non-cycling exercise to up my intensity during the winter and it came by accident. We had a couple of weeks of non-stop rain in October and I pulled out my Concept2 Rowing ergometer I had stashed in my garage a couple of years ago. I worked out, doing 40-45 minute interval work using routines I found on the Concept2 website. Rowing is boring and I hate exercising indoors and that's the reason I stopped using it in the first place. When I got on my bike I noticed that my condition had improved. I could climb hills in a bigger gear and my average speed went up a couple of clicks. I'm not advocating that everyone uses a Concept2, but some type of cross training that works the upper body and pushes your vo2 max.

I guess my 'base period' never ends as I do long-medium paced rides all year round climbing a lot of hills. I have no option as I live in the NorCal Sierra Nevada foothills. The hill climbing is similiar to interval work as I am either climbing or descending.

The biggest obstacle I face is mental as I have to try and stay motivated all year round. I try to make my cycling as fun as possible and I found that staring at my computer hours on end did not cut it. Looking back I felt the decline in my physical condition in my middle 40's and it hit like a sledge hammer.

I guess you have to do what works for you the best, I have to work on the intensity all year round, but I don't want to completely empty the tank either or I get tired and my riding will suck for a couple of days afterward.

I think the 'use it or lose it' approach works best. You don't want to stop being physically active, but you have to respect the reality that you will get older and slower as you age. I've found there are some pretty darn fit 50 and 60 year olds out there.