How Has Your Training Changed After Age 50?

Recently while skimming my email inbox, an article titled “5 Training Tips to Help You Run Strong As You Age” caught my attention. What really caused me to read further was the first part of the tagline: “Getting older doesn’t mean you have to stop running”. Judging from the comments that followed the article,  the author disappointed several readers when they realized that his definition of age differed from theirs – he is 40 years old.   It is common to generalize training plans, dismissing the age effect. Most questions I receive from visitors to Senior Triathletes are from those looking for advice on triathlon training for those of us 50 and over.  Missing from websites, blogs, and books about triathlon training is age-specific training information. Being over 50, we deal with issues that those younger seldom need to consider.  For example, a short time ago, RL posted the following on the Senior Triathletes Facebook page:

“Any of you doing tris/IMs after total hip replacement?  Got a THR 4 weeks ago – thought I would switch to aqua bike – been reading about people running post THR – still seems like a bit of a gamble with respect to increased risk of needing a revision compared to low impact activity.  Thanks for any comments.”

I doubt that the general triathlon sites answer questions about training and racing after joint replacements.  Unfortunately, I cannot answer this question with authority; I do not have the proper training. That’s why I am writing this post.

I Need Your Experience With Triathlon Training After Age 50

We, the age 50+ triathlon community, will appreciate your comments on the following:
  • Have you used or are you using a triathlon training plan specific to your age group or even for those age 50 and over?
    • Are you aware of such training programs and, if so, what have you heard about them?
  • What have you learned about training as you age?
    • What are the main changes you have made in your training?
  • How has your training for swimming, biking, and running changed as you have aged?
  • As someone age 50 or over, how do you advise someone ages 50, 60, 70, or even age 80 to train for a longer race?  For example, how does a person our age who does Olympic distance triathlons train for an Ironman?
  • Are you or someone you know able to answer training questions like that from RL (above)?
  • What can we do to achieve the goal of Senior Triathletes being a valuable resource for information, besides inspiration, for beginner and intermediate triathletes age 50 and over?

Please Share Your Comments About Triathlon Training After Age 50

Please add your comments and questions in the Comment section below or email us at Also, please take a look at the questions and comments from your other Senior Triathletes.
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I’ll turn 70 in August, and have been doing triathlons for close to 30 years, and running regularly for 40. It doesn’t get any easier, but I’m compelled to keep fit and compete in the same races year to year. There are 3 sprint tri’s that I do each summer. I used to try to maintain a workout schedule, but these days I just try to do one thing, a run, bike or swim, each day, and not worry about a formal schedule. My times have slipped quite a bit over the years, of course. But I’m just happy to remain active. I was always a middle-of-the-pack competitor anyway, with an occasional 2nd or 3rd place if there aren’t many in my age group. These days there generally aren’t more than four or five. It does trouble me, I must admit, to have slowed down as much as I have over the years. These days I’m running at a 12-minute pace, more or less. I know that a speed workout of some kind (repeat 100s, 200s or 400s) each week helps a lot. So I’m curious if there are workouts that might help more. Frankly, I’m amazed (and suspicious!) at some of the guys who I see winning my age group with unbelievable times. Thoughts?

First of all, congratulations on being active. I can relate to your experience with slowing down. I turned 66 earlier this year. I was never a fast runner but had become respectable. However, after a hamstring injury last year (I tried to compete with 30-somethings on the basketball court after not playing for decades), I did not run regularly for several months. When I did re-start running, I experienced knee pain and was at a 12-minute pace. I attributed this pain to weak hips/glutes – probably another consequence of not running for months – so started the Mark Allen strength training program. You can see the post about this training program on the Senior Triathletes site. I also decided to go back to what seemed to work when I first started in triathlon 8 years ago. First, I restarted a training plan for running found in “Run Less, Run Faster” (Pierce, et al) – it includes speed workouts – while continuing the strength training plan referenced above. Secondly, I have decided to be patient and accept slow but steady progress. I do not have more specific guidance, I suggest finding a plan that works for you and patiently implementing it. Let me know if I can clarify my comments. I am hoping that some of the other readers will share more useful information to help you get faster in your run.