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  1. #1
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    50+ Triathlon competitors -- past, present and future

    I have picked up an interest in doing a sprint triathlon initially, and maybe a full tri into the future.

    The training, preparation and tactics interest me. I've done long-distance cycling and did reasonably well at it, and may get back into it. I am not particularly competitive, as in road racing, but time trialling also is another interest point for me. Triathlon holds an interest because it seems to be open to all sorts -- from those who just want to finish (like me), to those aiming for age category podiums, to those seeking outright honours.

    I've never been much of a swimmer, but having joined a gym for a month in Vancouver has given me an opportunity to do much more swimming than I ever have, and to start refining my style. I am enjoying it immensely.

    The cycling side will take care of itself, but the running is presenting its own issues, as discussed in Billydon's thread on running.

    I know there are several 50+ participants in triathlons (and biathlons, presumable, and Iron Mans), so this seemed a good opportunity to get something going in the general part of the forum rather than the trainig and racing section.

    I don't expect it to be overly active, but I'll keep an eye on it and revive it as I have questions, observations or reports to post. Hopefully others will do the same.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  2. #2
    alpine cross trainer Ludkeh's Avatar
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    I'm also getting into Sprint Triathlons this year and hope to do a few this summer. I started training this past summer. Like you, the bike is easy but the running and swimming are extremely difficult. For me, the running was very hard since I've never been a runner, so I started looking on the internet for a training method that would let me slowly build up running endurance without getting injured in the process. I finally settled on the Jeff Galloway training method. This involves a combination of run/walk intervals. I've got a Timex Ironman watch that let's me set how many seconds I want to run and how many seconds I walk. Last summer I started by running a 3K route with 30 seconds of running and 60 seconds of walking. As the summer progressed, I ran longer and longer intervals but still kept the 60 rest/walk interval. So far the program has worked for me. The running is slowly getting easier. I'm getting faster without any injuries. I plan on using this system when I'm doing the Triathlon.

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    I sprained my right calf muscle on the treadmill yesterday, and it is still a bit tender today. But the best part was that I could go for a 28km bike ride with Machka and my father-in-law today without it interfering. That, I am discovering, is one of the better parts about the triple cross training that I am leading myself into.

    I am figuring that with the weight I am carrying, and my desire to get it down 40-odd pounds, the aerobic base I am laying now with treadmill running, spin cycling, swimming and a bit of rowing thrown in, will be a good strategy for at least another week or so (then we fly back to Australia for a short bike tour out of Perth, then home).
    Last edited by Rowan; 01-10-13 at 08:52 PM.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

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    If you find (as I did) that the running was hard on the body, or that you simply suck at swimming, you can do team triathlons, doing 1 or 2 legs of the race, pretty much to a half Ironman distance.

    There's a great deal of satisfaction at this, as you get to learn how to deal with transitioning between disciplines, like the fact that it's really hard to get the legs moving on the bike after the swim when all the blood in the body was just moving the arms thru the water !.

    I did these events for a number of years and had a lot of fun at it.

    And for no other reason, cross training allows you to train when the weather is too crappy for one particular sport.

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    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    My wife has been doing triathlons for several years. Training with her on the bike helps me get into shape early in the spring when she kicks up her road mileage. I sink like a rock and can't run due to an accident so I'm relegated to being the mechanic and cheerleader rather than a participant. She has a lot of fun doing them, and they are fun to watch.

    Sometimes that has its advantages. This was at Oregon's Blue Lake All Women's Tri. I was there taking pictures and my wife was a participant. It is a dirty job, but someone has to do it


    My wife is the pretty one in a swim cap!


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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
    Sometimes that has its advantages. This was at Oregon's Blue Lake All Women's Tri. I was there taking pictures and my wife was a participant. It is a dirty job, but someone has to do it


    My wife is the pretty one in a swim cap!

    Dream. Dare. Do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
    My wife is the pretty one in a swim cap!

    Wow, a polygamist bicyclist right here on the 50+ forum, you are either really fit or absolutely worn out.

    Bill

  8. #8
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    Since you, and most people on this forum, are already proficient at cycling, let me comment just on running and swimming. Running takes lots of slow build-up and patience especially when you're over 50. The old plan about walk some distance, then slowly run the same distance, walk, run, etc., works. Don't do too much at first and resist the urge to go too fast.

    Swimming on the other hand doesn't require the same patience. But it's important to get it right from the start. It's all about learning and practicing an efficient movement. Swim clubs including master groups and group lessons are helpful. If you don't have access to those, get a book or read on-line. It's all about the technique. But if you are just learning or starting out, it takes time and can be frustrating. Then one day you go from doing 4 lengths of the pool suddenly to 6 or 8. The next time you might jump to 10 lengths, etc.

    After you get comfortable of doing all three events, you can either get copy or develop a training plan. Or just do the tri if you are comfortable. After you get a sprint under your belt and want to do more, you can follow a plan. The good thing about tri's is they are much easier to fit in training-wise than cycling by itself because you don't have to do very long distance rides unless you want. You can mix up a morning 30 mile ride with an evening 3 mile run or an 800 meter swim.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

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    Senior Member az_cyclist's Avatar
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    I finished two sprint tri's 5 years ago, in Dec 07 and Jun 08. I found swimming after a run workout made my legs feel better for the rest of the day. I may train for a tri again, but my goal would be sprint and olympic distances.

    First, though, I want to qualify for my California Triple Crown jersey.

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    I started thinking about it two years ago. In 2010 I did one Aquabike sprint race. In 2012 I did an Ironman70.3 Aquabike. Then I had my right knee replaced.

    Last year I did 5 triathlons, 3 sprints and two Olympic/International distance. I have to walk rather than run (re: the knee) but I'm trying real hard to get my walk to a 12 minute mile. I'm not there yet. I've slacked off the last month or so and haven't set a schedule for this year. My goal is to do a full 70.3, walking the half marathon part at the end.

    TriWaco2012_zps10b6e9f1.jpg

    That's me in the green cap at the start of the 1500 meter swim at Tri Waco last year.

  11. #11
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Swimming is the key. It's by far the most technique dependent of the 3 disciplines. And swimming with a pack in open water is way different than swimming in a pool.

    Unless you're an experienced swimmer, I'd spend most of my training time there, and work with a Coach, and/or a Masters swimming group.

    The Total Immersion books and videos help.

    http://www.totalimmersion.net/
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
    Swimming is the key. It's by far the most technique dependent of the 3 disciplines. And swimming with a pack in open water is way different than swimming in a pool.
    Good points, but remember that swimming is by far the smallest portion of most triathlon. For a sprint that takes 1:20 or so, the swim portion will be much less than 10 minutes (400 yds or so). Even for an age grouper on a 6+hour finish to a 70.3, the swim is less than an hour of it.

    For these reasons, and since I walk rather than run, I like the Olympic distance and the 1500m swim. But I'm a pretty good swimmer for my age. That's where I try to reclaim a bit of the time that I will lose on the six mile run.

    merlin's point is correct about swimming in open water. Double the intimidation if you're in a wetsuit for the first or second time. Even for a good swimmer it's easy to feel claustrophobic when you're trying to swim and keep hitting people (or they hit you) and the wetsuit is on, etc., etc.

    BTW--the word "facial" in tri-swimming takes on a whole new meaning.

  13. #13
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monoborracho View Post
    Good points, but remember that swimming is by far the smallest portion of most triathlon. For a sprint that takes 1:20 or so, the swim portion will be much less than 10 minutes (400 yds or so). Even for an age grouper on a 6+hour finish to a 70.3, the swim is less than an hour of it.

    .
    When I said swimming is the key, I meant in terms of a beginner trying to get through their first tri, particularly a cyclist trying to do their first tri.

    As for winning, you're right that the math renders the swim less decisive.


    I'm such a terrible swimmer, my first sprint tri, I was next to last out of the water ( my 13 year old daughter starting in a wave 5 minutes behind me passed me before the turn), rode a good bike split ( in the top 10 of the elite men) and hung on in the run to place in my age group.
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
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    Thanks for the input everyone. This is a really good start.

    I should explain that we arrived back in Vancouver on the 19th of December, smack bang in the middle of winter, of course. We had become a bit soft and pudgy during our tour (actually, soft and pudgy might be a slight understatement for me).

    So we signed up for a month with a very well equipped gym in the area where we are staying and have stuck to a regimen of exercise, and added in outdoor cycling when the weather has permitted.

    Our first outing was on 21 December. I went four laps in the pool, plus did some walking on the treadmill and some spin cycling.

    Last week, I was up to 40 laps, although have come back a bit in the past two times to 30 laps. The 40 laps was with single-sided breathing, then I looked up technique, and found bi-lateral, which has been quite a challenge to get right, mainly because I couldn't seem to get my head in the right position without gulping water. I have been working on that and I think I am improving.

    I think head position and exhalation under water are OK, so the next step will be to improve my speed.

    Running, as pointed out, will be a slow process, I think. I do need to get proper shoes, which won't happen until I get back to Australia later this month; I have strained both calves very slightly, and I am leery of getting injured there or doing in my knees, and I think shoes have a lot to do with that.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

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    Senior Member b2run's Avatar
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    I was a distance runner and am moving into triathlons. I only started biking this year and so came to this forum to learn techniques. It's a bit difficult to get good at biking doing it only twice a week. Any suggestions to pick up the learning curve?

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    Thoughts on swimming:

    Bi-lateral breathing for swimmers is a huge advantage for open water swims as it makes it easier to sight landmarks on shore. This is especially true in ocean swims if along a beach. As well it balances the stroke. Then if you do masters workouts and are in a lane with others doing circle laps, you can breath to the outside of the lane and avoid waves from other swimmers in the lane.

    Swimming is really tough for adults to learn though, and it sometimes pays to get lessons.

    Speed comes from repeats as they are known in the pool. 12x50's (yards) around the clock (leaving every :55 seconds) as example, or whatever you can handle. Trying to "repeat" the time on the last 50. My favorites are 200's as they are a nice distance that allows you to push a bit, yet let you develop a sense of pace as well. An Outside Magazine workout I use is 150/100/50/200, repeat as often as desired and/or vary the distances. Another is the "ladder" - 50/100/150/200/200/150/100/50, or the short version, 25/50/75/100/100/75/50/25.

    The object in the repeat, or interval sets, are the same as you would do in cycling or running. Pushing harder and not letting the HR come down too much during the rest period. It trains the body to go hard. It's also not as boring as getting in the pool and cranking out a 1500, though you need to do that once in a while to get used to the distance in one shot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by b2run View Post
    I was a distance runner and am moving into triathlons. I only started biking this year and so came to this forum to learn techniques. It's a bit difficult to get good at biking doing it only twice a week. Any suggestions to pick up the learning curve?
    Ride with a club once a week. Start at the bottom and find your level. Riding with others forces you to react to speed increases, often when you are tired. Not that much different then doing intervals. Also gets you used to riding with riders around you.

  18. #18
    Senior Member b2run's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
    Thoughts on swimming:

    Bi-lateral breathing for swimmers is a huge advantage for open water swims as it makes it easier to sight landmarks on shore. This is especially true in ocean swims if along a beach. As well it balances the stroke. Then if you do masters workouts and are in a lane with others doing circle laps, you can breath to the outside of the lane and avoid waves from other swimmers in the lane.

    Swimming is really tough for adults to learn though, and it sometimes pays to get lessons.

    Speed comes from repeats as they are known in the pool. 12x50's (yards) around the clock (leaving every :55 seconds) as example, or whatever you can handle. Trying to "repeat" the time on the last 50. My favorites are 200's as they are a nice distance that allows you to push a bit, yet let you develop a sense of pace as well. An Outside Magazine workout I use is 150/100/50/200, repeat as often as desired and/or vary the distances. Another is the "ladder" - 50/100/150/200/200/150/100/50, or the short version, 25/50/75/100/100/75/50/25.

    The object in the repeat, or interval sets, are the same as you would do in cycling or running. Pushing harder and not letting the HR come down too much during the rest period. It trains the body to go hard. It's also not as boring as getting in the pool and cranking out a 1500, though you need to do that once in a while to get used to the distance in one shot.
    Thanks. My problem is that I live in a small town in Northern Ontario and don't have access to many resources. I've bought a dvd from Triswimcoach which is teaching me swimming technique. Once I feel comfortable with my technique, I'll try the workouts. There is a bike club in a town a half hour away but it's a bit hard to connect with them. I'll try and make an effort when the weather warms up. The frustration I feel is that I only practice each sport twice a week which doesn't make for a lot of time to improve. I thinking of switching to biking 3 x and running once a week but am afraid I'll lose running muscle. What do you think?

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    Thanks for the knowledge, Steve, Merlin and Mono. It's all useful to have tucked away in the mind's filing cabinets under Triathlon.

    I have looked at a couple of swimming websites, and they are what led me to change my breathing style. I swam 50 laps today in slightly more difficult conditions because of an arrangement of the pool so the laps lane was up against a separation wall, so there was slop coming back from the wash.

    I did 50 x 25m laps, which I was really happy with. I am using that cycling strategy of getting Long Steady Distance in before I start on doing speedwork. The LSD is helping me get the style better, and I am not looking for the halfway crack across the pool, but rather the T at the end of the lane...

    Machka and I also walked to and from the supermarket today, so about 2.6km, and both calves felt fine.

    We flight out for Australia on Wednesday, so there will be a hiatus, but we will be going into a hot summer there, so the pool and bike work can start fairly quickly. And we will likely head for a coastal town with beaches, so I can get into real salt water a bit.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  20. #20
    Legs; OK! Lungs; not! bobthib's Avatar
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    I started cycling in early '09 when a then 69 y/o buddy wanted to get a bike and do the Miami MS 150. I borrowed a bike (89 Trek 1200) and never looked back. About 2 yrs ago I started riding at 5 am with a Tri group. I guess something rubbed off as last year I decided to do a sprint Tri. I started running in July to prep for the Sept 9th event. I also started swimming in my pool after bike rides.

    I was shocked how difficult running was when I started. I found that doing wind sprints when I started cycling really made a big difference, so I figured it would work for running as well. Since I could only jog for about 100 yds, I naturally started by run/walking. Persistence pays, and after a few months I could run almost a mile.

    Swimming I thought was going to be easy, but alas, I found it to be indeed the most difficult to do well. I did a mock tri at the site the week before the event. The open water swim was tough, and I could only free style for about 50 yds, and then I resorted to breast stroke. Same happened on race day.

    On race day the swim was in Biscayne Bay and it was shallow enough that some of the competitors in my AG could walk. I did mostly breast stroke, but finished the 500 m swim in 11:48. It was a long run to the transition area, and many walked but I jogged. Since it was not timed perhaps I should have walked. The bike was easy, and no one passed me. I ran/walked the run part of my Sprint (5K) and despite that I managed to finish 3rd in my AG out of 8. But I really enjoyed it, and decided to focus on training in earnest.

    I joined a swim group with my Tri buddies, and got "Runkeeper" in my phone and use that for my running training. It's going well, and I'm looking forward to this tri season. I've already signed up for the Miami Man International sprint for the fall. I plan to do 4 or 5 sprints this summer to prep.
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    I did my first-ever Tri's (sprints) last summer at age 60. I'm a good - albeit slow - swimmer....or so I thought. Training in the pool, swimming a half-mile was no problem. I had problems, however, in both of my Tri's [open water, in a lake] with the QUARTER-mile swim. Adrenaline apparently got the best of me both times and those short swims seemed endless to me, asnd very tiring.
    If anyone has any tips on how to be less stressed for the swim, I'm all ears.

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    Senior Member b2run's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mystang52 View Post
    I did my first-ever Tri's (sprints) last summer at age 60. I'm a good - albeit slow - swimmer....or so I thought. Training in the pool, swimming a half-mile was no problem. I had problems, however, in both of my Tri's [open water, in a lake] with the QUARTER-mile swim. Adrenaline apparently got the best of me both times and those short swims seemed endless to me, asnd very tiring.
    If anyone has any tips on how to be less stressed for the swim, I'm all ears.
    Practice a lot in open water if you can. Do you wear a tri wet suit? It really increases buoyancy which tends to make you more relaxed.

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    My last stint at the gym in Canada was today. About 40 minutes of walking, with the incline going up 1% every 200 metres, so I reached 10% before coming down again. Then 26 x 25m laps of the pool, concentrating on getting five strokes into the bilateral breathing, instead of three.

    The gym has been wonderful for both of us, and in particular rousing my interest in triathlons.

    We leave Canada tomorrow morning and stop off in Hong Kong for a couple of hours before a second flight to Perth, WA. We will recuperate from jet lag for two days, then head south to the cooler climes of Albany... which has lots of beaches, I think.

    One of the items are the top of our buy lists is running shoes for me and walking shoes for Machka. We'll see how that goes when we get there.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

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    Last fall, I too decided to try a sprint tri in Sept 2013. I've been running 5K for 15 years (25-30 minutes) and biking for the past 4 (200K, 300K, 400K, 600K brevets the last 3) so decided to start swimming last September. I'm 61yo and haven't swam since I was a kid. I have to say I admire Rowan's ability to swim 25-50 x 25m when just starting because I can swim 24x25m in 30 minutes on a good day, but I'm resting and huffing/puffing at the end of each 50m (one lap). My goal is to eventually be able to swim the 350m sprint tri distance without stopping, but I have a long way to go.

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    I need to point out that I am progressing, but not as quickly as Farmall portrays. I have done 10 laps straight (250m), then paused for a bit of recovery, then another four, and then four.

    I am certainly trying to concentrate on doing some distance in a sort of interval way, but also concentrating on my style, and especially that bilateral breathing.

    I've got it going quite well for three strokes, and am now concentrating on five strokes, which is helping my speed through the water, I think.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

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