We are always told that there is a decrease in running and/or cycling performance as we age. There is plenty of research that shows this. How big of a decrease is there? Does this decrease in performance have to happen?
Unless you are already training and/or have already competed at your max possible level you could easily be faster this year than last (even if you are 50+…). You see what most people don’t realize is that it’s your peak performance that decreases, so if you’ve never been at your true peak then you don’t have to worry about getting slower.
Some new research looking at cycling ability found some really interesting results. This study looked at highly trained cyclists and found that after 30 years old the following decreases occurred:
- Peak power went down 8% per decade
- Anaerobic capacity went down 8% per decade
- There was no significant decrease in peak aerobic ability – it barely changed.
This is really interesting stuff and leads to some really simple and practical advice for your training if you are planning on competing in cycling or running events, and your goal is to get faster.
Train Smart – as you age it’s time to pursue quality training hours over quantity. Balancing kids, job, life, and training is tough. More training isn’t always better.
Strength train – since with age we see peak power decreases it becomes really important to add strength training to your plan. It is possible to slow those decreases substantially.
Interval training – high intensity interval training becomes really important as you age. With the expected anaerobic capacity decreases you see with age adding proper intervals will help mitigate this.
Nutrition – your food is your fuel. A proper nutrition plan will greatly improve performance at all levels
Use your experience and understanding of your body to make your training more specific to you. If you need more rest take it. Listen to your body and do what works for you.
Allow time to recover. As you age you need more recovery time from hard training sessions and races. Use nutrition and things like massage to help with recovery.
As you get older longer races will suit you better as it has been shown that aerobic abilities are the slowest to decline. Don’t worry about racing those young rabbits in Crits and 10 k’s. Kick their asses in the Gran Fondo’s and Ultra Marathons.
At the end of the day with a proper training plan, nutrition and strength training under the guide of a professional trainer (like the gang at GWA) there really is no limit to the improvements you can obtain in your cycling and running performance – especially if you are like most of us who didn’t compete at an elite level in these sports when we were young. Older most definitely does not mean slower.