While many consider triathlons as something that’s strictly for young people, this is certainly not the case. It’s possible to participate and even to win triathlons well into your 40’s according to experts.
Professional triathlon athletes are racing well into their 40’s, which raises a lot of questions: how are they able to do it, why would they bother, and what are the health effects and long-term consequences? Mark Hanrahan, a seasoned triathlon athlete of Urbandale Iowa gives his take on Ironman training and competing after 40.
There has been a lot of hype about the potential negative health effects of professional triathlon athletes that are over 40 years old, and the question is raised as to whether or not they are racing too long. Are they hurting themselves by racing at this age or are they still able to benefit from the physical challenge? Of course, there is no cookie cutter answer to these questions, and there is a lot to consider when attempting to answer them.
“Make adjustments as needed according to your age group” – Mark Hanrahan
First and foremost, these questions wouldn’t be asked if it weren’t due to the increased number of triathlon participants who are in this age group. Furthermore, this phenomenon of aged athletes is not exclusive to triathlons, as there has been a growing number of top athletes in many sports who are in their late 30’s and early 40’s. Take, for example, Peyton Manning who won the VIP during the super bowl at age 37, or Chris Horner who won the Tour of Spain cycling competition at age 41.
The fact that there has been an increase in seasoned athletes who continue to break records and win awards should be considered when asking these questions. According to Mark Hanrahan, “It is possible to perform at the highest levels of athletic training at these ages, but not without proper training and lifestyle changes”. The key is to make adjustments to your diet, lifestyle, and training according to your age and personal needs. The biggest change for those who are competing past 40 is recovery time. With age, healing and recovering from sports and training takes longer than it would for athletes in their 20’s and 30’s.
Some key points for athletes training in their forties
“The most important thing for athletes to consider when training in this age group is that they need to make adjustments to their training and recovery routines. Older athletes should use the latest training and recovery techniques and be aware that they can’t train in the same capacity as when they were in their 20’s,” says Mark Hanrahan. Below is a list of key points to consider when training in this age group.
-Take more time to recover after exercise
-Reassess your diet and be sure to eat healthy
-Get deep tissue massages regularly
-Consider using medical grade compression boots
-Treat sore muscles with an ice bath