Coach Kate's Endurance Sport Lessons - Training for Senior Athletes
Updated: Sep 15, 2022
This article is a summary of the key points discussed by Joe Friel in his book 'Fast After 50'.
If you have been training for several decades, your performance begins to decline after the age of 50 years. Predictors of performance include aerobic capacity (VO2 max), efficiency and lactate threshold (the point at which lactate accumulates rapidly in the blood). Aerobic capacity naturally declines with age, efficiency and lactate threshold do not decline as rapidly.
Athletes who train using long slow distance LSD training, this decline is around 1-1.5% per year. However, athletes who continue to train with high intensity interval training HIIT alongside LSD training, this decline slows to ~0.5% per year.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Workouts that have intervals that feel uncomfortable
Have an increase risk of injury, particularly running
Programming workouts is important and should be spread out to include sufficient recovery
Use your training zones (Pace, HR, RPE, Power etc.) to determine the intensity of the interval
Include a mix of VO2 / Aerobic capacity and lactate threshold efforts
Reduces decline in muscle mass
Increases production of growth hormones
Twice per week is a desirable dosage
Avoiding Overtraining (Injury / Illness)
Older athletes recover at a slower rate than younger athletes
Program enough recovery between sessions, usually anywhere between 3 to 9 days between high load workouts (same sport); this means you can include HIIT sessions for swim/bike between run sessions
Gradually increase duration of interval
Notice changes in levels of fatigue both in your whole body, mind and specific areas/muscles.
Moderate conservative ‘chronic load’ is better than a period of hard training which may result in an injury / illness and loss of training; be aware being too conservative might result in not improving
Doing efforts harder than the prescribed training zone is not beneficial. It will increase your risk of injury and increase recovery time post workout.
Regular workout routines
Factor in days off training, the older you get, the more you should spread out your high load sessions
Include a mix of long slow distance, weight training and HIIT sessions
Vary the program depending on location, training age, stress and adaptations to training
Vary the program according to the training phase leading into an ‘A race’.
Aerobic capacity - your body’s ability to use oxygen to produce energy, measured by VO2 max, an effort sustained ‘all out’ for 5mins. Best measured by pace/power/RPE.
Lactate / Anaerobic threshold - slightly lower intensity than VO2 max, usually an effort lasting 20-30mins put to 60mins duration. Best measured by HR and RPE.
Aerobic Threshold - the point at which you burn predominately fat vs carbohydrate, around 70% of your max HR
Increase body fat
Loss of muscle mass
Reducing Performance Decline
Include a mix of LSD, HIIT, strength training and recovery in your training
Periodise your program according to your adaptation to training, current lifestyle stress and goal events
Training Peaks - HIIT for the ageing athlete
What it takes to be fast after 50 - Joe Friel
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