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April 14, 2020 – We hear a lot these days about the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on small businesses. Among these businesses are the ones near and dear to our hearts who put on multisport events.
While the triathlon season has not started for most of the northern hemisphere, there is an air of uncertainty. Some races have been canceled for this year. Other early season races have been postponed when it is possible for the organizers to reschedule them.
Having participated in triathlons across the country, I am on the mailing list for many multisport businesses. I thought you might be interested to see how one race organizer is dealing with this uncertainty while working to keep their business afloat during this crisis.
Georgia Multisports Productions
Race Director and Senior Triathlete Jim Rainey sent information about the Georgia Multisports Productions (GMP) 8-week challenge.
Jim wrote in his email:
“We have recently created a Georgia Multisports Strava page to try and help us stay together and motivated so when the pandemic is over, and our lives are back to normal we are ready for what comes next.”
The event began April 1st and will continue through May 30th so you still have time to participate. Running and cycling miles will be tracked through a FREE account for the George Multisports Club on Strava. After joining the running and cycling events, register on runsignup. With the registration, you to receive awards, a t-shirt and discount for a future race.
How Is Your Favorite Race Business Handling the Crisis?
Let us know in the Comments section below what your favorite race company is doing about their early-season races, whether triathlon, 5k, or other.
During a Stryd “For the Love of Running” webinar, registered dietitian Sakiko Minagawa presented nutrition guidelines for endurance athletes. She identified the day-in, day-out nutrition needed for athletes, including masters triathletes, to perform at their highest levels.
What was almost comical, however, was the number of questions focused on race day nutrition.
I thought about this scene after the webinar. Most of us recognize the importance of daily nutrition. However, in truth, we spend more time investigating the latest dieting fad or fueling strategy while grabbing whatever is convenient for a meal.
“Eating well and being active” is a ‘one-two-punch’ for healthy living of older adults, according to the website Eat Right. In fact, what we eat before, during, and after training can be part of our competitive strategy as an athlete.
Nutrition is a key component to health and sports performance.Sakiko Minagawa, MS, RDN, LD
For the masters endurance athlete, paying attention to nutrition is even more important than for the younger person. Changes to our bodies that occur with age make what we eat increasingly important.
How Our Bodies Changes With Age
As we age, we must change what we eat and drink, how we rest, and how we spend our leisure time and train for endurance sports like triathlon.
“People who did the equivalent of 30-40 minutes of jogging per day, five days a week showed biological markers of a person seven years younger.”From a report cited in “Six Principles of Triathlon Training for Seniors“
How are we to change the way we eat, sleep, and play? By considering the most important changes to our bodies that occur with age.
Loss in lean body mass and bone mass
At around age 50, our skeletal muscles lose cells and become smaller and stiffer according to Dr. Vonda Wright in Masters Athletes: A Model for Healthy Aging.
Without intervention, the reduced muscle mass and increased stiffness results in lower strength, reduced power, and more frequent muscle strains and joint pain.
Decrease in total calorie needs
Resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the energy (expressed in calories) necessary for normal body functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature.
Lean body mass (muscle) has a higher RMR than fat. Therefore, any loss of lean body mass, including that related to age, will reduce the calories required to maintain a given weight.
Decrease in nutrient absorption
For a significant portion of the senior population, age means reduced production of stomach acid. This may seem like a good thing given the barrage of advertising for medications to treat heartburn and acid reflux. However, less stomach acid can affect absorption of nutrients from food sources.
Decreasing absorption of nutrients, such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, iron and magnesium, affects bone health, blood pressure, and other metabolic processes.
How Age-Related Changes Affect Nutrition Needs of Masters Endurance Athletes
The changes with age explain why proper nutrition is one of six keys to triathlon training for seniors and even more critical to get right than for younger athletes.
The physiological changes mean that we need fewer (net of exercise) calories, higher amounts of protein, and greater amounts of key nutrients.
Sakiko Minagawa challenges us to do this by eating smarter and more efficiently. We must minimize so-called empty calories while consuming more nutrient-dense foods in the proper proportion.
Following are guidelines for older adults from government and private sources.
Nutrition for the General Population of Older Adults
In the United States, the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Agriculture update dietary guidelines every five years based on the current nutrition science.
The greater number of people living longer has led to specific guidelines for older adults. MyPlate for Older Adults published by Tufts University is based on the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans but targeted to those age 65 and over. Check out their short, informative video with these recommendations and the following guidelines from nutrition professionals.
Greater amounts of protein
It is important to pay attention to protein intake, avoiding skimping. Muscles of older adults require greater amounts of amino acids to achieve the same muscle-building effect that occurs in younger athletes. The current recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day for adults over 18, or about 65 grams of protein for a 180-pound adult. Research suggests that adults over age 65 require greater amounts.
More anti-inflammatory foods
Fish oil (through fish, like salmon and sardines, and supplements) and certain plant and nut-based oils (e.g. olive, avocado, and walnut) are recognized for their anti-inflammatory properties. According to sports nutritionist Dr. Nancy Clark, “healthy plant and fish oils provide a health-protective anti-inflammatory effect. Given that diseases of aging such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis are triggered by inflammation, consuming canola, olive, avocado, walnut, and fish oils that reduce inflammation is a wise choice.”
Vitamins and minerals
The reduced ability with age to absorb nutrients from food means that we need to eat foods higher in certain nutrients. Prioritize fruits and vegetables high in vitamin D (e.g. salmon, eggs, orange juice) and calcium (e.g. green leafy vegetables, broccoli), though balance is also important.
Water is necessary for regulating body temperature, transporting nutrients throughout our bodies, lubricating joints, and other bodily processes. However, as we age, thirst becomes less reliable as an indicator of hydration level. With the less sensitive thirst response, we are more likely to become dehydrated and, therefore, need to pay more attention to staying hydrated.
It is helpful to remember that water can come in many forms. These include the obvious ones, including coffee, tea, milk, and soup. Water can also be consumed in fruits and vegetables. Registered nutritionist and chef Ian Harris points out that “vegetables such as celery, cucumber, iceberg lettuce, tomato and zucchini contain over ninety percent water”. In addition, “melons such as cantaloupe and watermelon have some of the highest water content, at more than 90 percent.” Many other commonly available fruits contain over 80 percent water.
Watch your salt intake
According to registered dietitian Sally Kuzemchak, those over age 50 are more likely to be “salt sensitive”. We need to pay even greater attention to salt intake. However, you don’t have to forego taste. Herbs and spices make effective salt alternatives.
Consuming a balanced diet with nutrient-rich foods such as whole grain, fruits, vegetables, protein, low-fat/fat-free dairy should be our first choice for nutrient needs, according to Sakiko Minagawa. However, given the importance of avoiding bone mass loss, active seniors may benefit from supplements such as protein powder, vitamin D, calcium, and/or a multivitamin to meet the nutrient needs not provided by food. Prior to taking supplements, review any plans with a dietitian and/or physician to avoid any potential negative consequences from overdosing or interactions between supplements and medications.
More Nutrition Guidance for Masters Endurance Athletes
Active seniors, including triathletes, need even greater amounts of amino acids to achieve the same muscle-building effect that occurs in younger athletes. Dr. Nancy Clark recommends that the masters athlete consume 1.4 to 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (0.6 to 0.7 gram per pound of body weight per day) spread throughout the day.
For a masters athlete who weighs 150 pounds (68 kg), this means 95 to 110 grams of protein per day. Distribute your protein intake throughout the day. Consuming 25 grams four times per day is a good goal.
In addition, the masters athlete should consume an additional 40 grams of protein after hard exercise for muscle repair and recovery as soon as possible after finishing the session. Think whey protein smoothie since whey protein is high in the amino acid leucine, which triggers muscle growth.
Some research also suggests potential benefits of protein consumption before sleep for overnight muscle protein synthesis. Sakiko Minagawa recommends foods such as low-fat Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and milk which are great sources of protein as a pre-bedtime snack. These help with recovery and adapting to exercise training.
The active senior triathlete, especially one who sweats a lot during endurance training, needs to pay special attention to staying hydrated. Follow the guidelines for drinking healthy water-based beverages and eating fruits and vegetables high in water content. Pay attention to the color of your urine and consume enough water in whatever form so it is consistently light-colored.
While we need to avoid excessive salt intake, the endurance athlete needs to make sure he/she does not become electrolyte deficient during training, especially in high temperatures.
Meal Guidelines for Active Seniors
MyPlate for Older Adults provides the following guidelines:
- 50% of the plate should contain several servings of various colored fruits and vegetables. These can be fresh, frozen, or canned but look for low sodium and low added sugar varieties.
- 25% of the plate (at least three ounces) should contain whole-grain pasta, breads, cereals, or rice. These are important sources of nutrients and fiber.
- A serving of low-fat or fat-free dairy (milk, yogurt or cheese) fortified with vitamin D to provide protein and much needed nutrients.
- Vary protein choices with more fish, beans and peas (see the chart below), and milk. Many of these protein sources also contain significant amounts of important nutrients such as vitamin D and calcium.
- Consume plenty of fluid from sources such as water, coffee, tea, soups, and high water content fruits and vegetables.
- Oils used for salads or food preparation should be liquid oils.
Endurance athletes in training should adjust these guidelines to accommodate their special needs for higher protein intake, more water consumption, and additional vitamin D and calcium. One can “kill two birds with one stone” by eating more fish such as swordfish, salmon, tuna; milk; yogurt; eggs; and cheese since these are good sources of both protein and vitamin D.
A Healthy and Surprisingly Good Tasting Recipe High in Protein and Fiber
Besides hummus, I had not found recipes with chickpeas that both my wife and I enjoyed. That changed with the following recipe from Bon Appétit.
- 1 lb. dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, drained
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 – 3 x 1 inch strips lemon zest
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
Combine chickpeas, onion, garlic, lemon zest, oil, and a couple big pinches of salt in a large pot. Add 2 quarts water and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally and replacing any water that evaporates, until chickpeas are tender, about 2 hours. Taste and season generously with salt and pepper. Let cool.
If you make this recipe, share your thoughts in the Comment below.
Involving an Expert
Older athletes should avoid extreme or fad diets. However, you may be impatient to lose weight or increase athletic performance. The safest approach is to follow the balanced, healthy eating patterns described in the USDA guidelines.
Consult a dietician for additional nutrition recommendations for your specific health and sports performance goals.
Thank you to Sakiko Minagawa, MS, RDN, LD, Peak Performance Sports Nutrition LLC, (Boulder, Colorado) for contributing to this post. Learn more about Sakiko at https://www.peakperformancesn.com. Contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clearwater, Florida; November 11, 2012—TriRock Clearwater Triathlon
Joy and I used the timing of this triathlon to schedule a Florida vacation of a little over a week. The trip, in honor of our 39th wedding anniversary, provided opportunity to spend time with friends (Lyle & Diane in Deerfield Beach; Don & Sue in The Villages) and relax at the Holiday Inn in Highland Beach, one of our few romantic getaways.
Getting to the Florida Triathlon
We flew with my bike from Minnesota to West Palm Beach, Florida on Friday, November 2nd. Following a short drive south, we reached the Holiday Inn in Highland Beach, our base for a weekend visit with friends in nearby Deerfield Beach.
On Monday morning, we drove to The Villages, about one hour northwest of Orlando, where we spent the night with friends Don and Sue in the house they had rented. The next morning, we moved to a house in The Villages we had rented for four nights as part of a get-to-know-the-area package.
Through the rest of the week, I ran and cycled with a group of 60- and 70-year-olds. Joy and I also played golf with Don and Sue, took in a movie, went dancing every night, shopped, ate out, etc. In short, we had a blast.
On Saturday, we drove from The Villages to Clearwater Beach, the venue for the triathlon the next day. Before picking up the race packet, we enjoyed a fresh seafood lunch at Crabby Bill’s situated directly across the street from Pier 60, location of the transition area. After picking up the race packet and before driving to our hotel, we walked around the expo that was part of the triathlon.
1st TriRock Clearwater Triathlon
About 150 male and female triathletes from thirty-two states and five countries met for the inaugural TriRock Clearwater Triathlon on what was a near-perfect morning for a triathlon. Skies were blue with a few wispy clouds. The air temperature was comfortable, though cool, especially with a light breeze coming off the water.
Distances for the individual legs of this USAT-sanctioned sprint triathlon were:
- Swim: 0.34 mile (550 m)
- Bike: 13.4 mile (21 km)
- Run: 3.1 mile (5 km)
The water in the Gulf of Mexico was unexpectedly cold, around 65ºF. This meant that according to USA Triathlon rules, wetsuits were not only allowed but encouraged.
Swimmers started in waves based on age groups. The water was calm, making for a comfortable swim once I absorbed the initial shock of the cold water. Upon exiting the water, we ran to the grassy transition area across the beach with its mixture of sand and small shells.
The distinctive feature of this race’s bicycle leg was the ride up and over three bridges spanning inner coastal portions of water. The climb up and ride down from these bridges led to a challenging and, occasionally, fast (over 30 miles per hour) ride.
When not on a bridge, we snaked our way through neighborhoods in Clearwater, Belleair Beach, and Clearwater Beach, finishing the ride on Gulf Boulevard and Coronado Drive.
The initial section of the run was along the causeway (bridge) that was also part of the bike course. On the way to the turnaround, we passed the first of several bands providing live music along the run course, another of the signature features of this race.
About one-mile into the run, we turned around and headed back in the direction of the park. At the roundabout across from the transition area, we continued on the completely flat running path along South Gulfview Boulevard, the street running parallel to Clearwater Beach. Here we encountered the next series of bands.
Following a second turnaround, we headed toward the finish line.
Who says that ‘old people’ don’t take these races seriously? Maybe young people, but not those of us racing in the higher age groups.
This race again showed the competitiveness of older triathletes. The race for the second, third, and fourth places for the Males 55-59 Age Group was close; only 19 seconds separated the second and fourth place finishers.
I finished third in my age group, 8 seconds behind the second-place finisher and 11 seconds ahead of the fourth place finisher.
After the Florida Triathlon
Before traveling back to Minnesota, we made one more overnight stop in The Villages. With this visit, we could see our friends once more, enjoy more dancing at Lake Sumter Landing, and pack my bike for the airline ride home.
- First triathlon performed with a vacation to celebrate our wedding anniversary.
- First triathlon with the swim portion in the Gulf of Mexico.
Leave Your Questions and Comments Below
What type swim do you prefer? ocean? lake? pool? Why?
Have you combined a race and vacation? If so, what has been your favorite?
Please share your comments below.