Ok...so I'm looking at these numbers and can't really believe they're mine. Six. Zero. Sixty! 60! Up til I was about 50, 60 was "old." Really OLD. And now I'm there. It's strange because for the most part, I feel 30. But, when I look in the mirror first thing in the morning or struggle to put my socks on while standing up (a goal of mine til I'm 70), I realize it's true. I'm old...at least in the eyes of everyone on the planet 49 and under.
I suppose a sixty year old should have learned some lessons along the way and since this is a triathlon blog, I'll share a few things I've learned having done over 150 triathlons of all distances and having run for 35 years. This isn't necessarily rocket-science, but these are principles that become very real as the wrinkles increase and the skin loosens.
1 - Keep after it. Use it or lose it. Pretty basic, but SO true. The law of regeneration is in our bodies and if we move them and use them, that law will work very well. Sitting is the new smoking. Sedentary lifestyles are deadly. Get off the couch and do something...anything...but move!! Age really is only a number IF you stay as active as physically possible.
2 - We lose 10% of our strength per decade after our 30s. I started doing strength and resistance work in my mid-to-late 40s. It's one of the primary reasons I can still race relatively fast. I'm no body builder or power lifter, but I'm consistently working major muscle groups - both the ones used primarily for swimming, biking and running, but also the secondary support muscles like lateral movement muscles.
3 - Warming up is not longer a luxury but an absolute necessity. When I was a young man, I could just take off when the gun went off. Now, I need at least 30 minutes to fully warm up and 45 minutes is better. I jog a little, stretch a little, jog some more, do some dynamic stuff like lunges, high knees, butt kicks, lateral leg swings, etc. I want to have jogged two miles if possible before the race, nice and easy, so I'm sweating a bit and my muscles are awake and firing.
4 - Proper pacing in a race becomes even more critical the older you become. If you start too fast, you will blow a gasket early on and may not recover. Easing into a race is a smart thing even if properly warmed up. Now, a sprint triathlon is a quick race, relatively speaking. Even though the race is a little over an hour, vs. multi-hours for a half Ironman or Ironman, you've got to be smart. I've gone out too fast in the first couple of hundred yards in the swim and ended up on my back, gently kicking trying to get my breath back and heart rate down. Know this...you are swimming WAY faster than you think you are the first 200 yds. No one every won a triathlon in the first 200 yds., so take it easy and build into the swim. The same applies to the bike and run.
5 - Believe! Have confidence! Unless you're brand new to the sport, (and not many 60 yr. olds suddenly decide to become triathletes) you probably have...experience! Experience is huge in this sport. With experience comes confidence. You've made most rookie mistakes long ago and are now racing smarter. Often experience and confidence beats youthfulness and raw energy. I've won races where the 30 yr. old looks at the race results in disbelief. I've been asked, "How in the world do you race that fast being as old as you are?" One of the answers is just plain confidence and experience. I've got some big goals for this season and the 2018 season. Confidence will be a huge asset on my way to achieving them.
There are more lessons, but this is enough for now. Plus it's bedtime and since I'm old now, I need my sleep. Now, where are my prunes? Good night.