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Realistic Goals for 73 YO Male

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Old 05-07-18, 10:59 AM
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Realistic Goals for 73 YO Male

I could use help in setting up realistic goals for myself.

I am a 73 year old male, 5' 10". and 165 lbs. I have recently taken up cycling with the intent of keeping up my health and improving my cardio performance. I chose cycling because it is low impact on my knees and ankles. I have acquired two different bikes because of where I ride (at time on chip stone rail trails). My main rider is a carbon fibre road bike, and for the gravel, chip stone trails I use a hybrid..

On my most recent ride my numbers were distance 20 km, average speed 20 kmh, elevation gain 164m and (importantly) heart rate maximum159, average 136 bpm. According to Strava Z1=0%, Z2=11%, Z3=17%, Z4=60% and Zone 5=10%.

I am not really worried about speed, but am trying to figure out what reasonable goals would be for distance and for heart beat, and over what time period I should be setting to reach these goals. For example, could I honestly ever expect to be able to do 60 km?

Unfortunately, heart rate is a factor because there is no where I can ride that does not involve elevation. My peak heart rate occurs when I am climbing. Fortunately I am in good health and have no restrictions from my MD.

Any comments on setting a realistic goal, training plan or general suggestions would be very welcome.

Jim
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Old 05-07-18, 12:12 PM
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I began cycling when I was already in my young 70's. The local bike path is about 27 to 30 miles end to end, depending where you turn around. From 30 miles a day, up to say, 100 miles for the week, I signed up for a fund raiser intending to ride 55 miles. I added about 5 miles per week and the week before the event, I rode the entire 55 miles as a test. Then, soon after, I rode a metric century or 62 miles. From that point on, my standard long ride was 50 to 60 miles. Based on my own experience, I'd say you can ride whatever distance you work up to provided you increase your mileage no more than you can recover from in a few days time. Clearly, out ability to recover as we age is less or much less than when young. You have to judge this for yourself, keeping in mind that overdoing it may set you back. I'm now 79 y.o. and have ridden 24,000 miles total, usually about 3000 miles a year. Goof luck and take baby steps.
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Old 05-07-18, 01:16 PM
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Pace yourself and don't try to do stuff that you did when you were 20. The best way to increase your stamina, speed and distance and get the health benefits you are looking for is more saddle time. I started riding when I was 63 and got my very first road bike at 64. I'm now 71 and on my third road bike. Last years mileage was 11,458 miles. Yes! You can do it!
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Old 05-07-18, 04:15 PM
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My advice is to be patient with yourself. Ride and learn about the bike, your body and your psyche. Your body will gain fitness over time. As it does, you will find new "goals" for yourself. Just remember it's about you enjoying the ride and enjoying your increasing fitness and health. If you can find people who know about cycling you may be able to improve your technique and thus your enjoyment on the bike. Always remember it's your ride and no one else's. Just ride.
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Old 05-07-18, 06:39 PM
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On Saturday, I rode 126 miles with about 6,000' of elevation gain. Four of us rode, one of those guys is 71.
Last time I checked on bikejournal.com, one of the regular riders there was averaging about 60 miles a day in good weather, and he was 86, I think.
The moral is, maybe you can ride 60 km, maybe not, but it won't be because you're 73.
My way of thinking- forget most of those numbers, go ride and have fun, and if you're having fun, it won't be hard to bump up the miles. If you're not having fun, having calibrated monitored metered recorded suckage is not exactly a good way to spend your time.
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Old 05-07-18, 06:55 PM
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When I resumed cycling in August 2015 my goal was just to ride. At the time I was in such poor shape it was a struggle to ride 400 yards without stopping to gasp for breath. It took nearly two months before I could ride 10 miles, and even then I needed to stop often to rest and catch my breath.

Within a year I could ride gradually up to 20 miles or so at around a 12 mph pace. That seemed pretty good.

But I felt like I'd plateaued in conditioning, and still struggled on the same stuff -- especially hill climbs. And our hills aren't much, mostly undulating roller coasters averaging 2% over distance, with some short steep bits up to 10% or so.

Last summer I got an older steel road bike and started on interval training to get past that plateau. A rigid schedule didn't work for me -- too many family obligations. So I tried combining interval training with my usual 20-30 mile rides.

Moderate and high intensity intervals helped over last summer, but I overdid it and began getting weaker and slower by the end of 2017. After a nearly two-month bout with flu in January-February this year I decided to ease back from HIIT and try another approach better suited to my age (60) and physical limitations.

Now I'm following more of the Kenyan marathoner training style, which is more relaxed and less rigidly structured. Rather than rigid adherence to HIIT or other intervals, their training involves the Fartlek approach -- continuous running below threshold with random, intermittent bursts of speed.

That better suited the terrain I ride anyway. Some days I'll work on improving my speed on flat and downhills. Other days I'll loaf on the flats and downhills and reserve my bursts of energy for the climbs. This seems to be working for me, at least for now. I've regained the conditioning I'd lost over the winter due to illness, and even improved my overall speed and times on familiar routes. (But I've also tweaked my bike to be more efficient, so it's difficult to attribute everything to training alone.)

My average speed over the same 20 mile route has gradually increased from 10 mph to 12 mph to 15 (where I was stuck for several months), and now 16-17 mph. I'm still not quite ready to keep up with the local fast club's group rides, but I'm improving. And I'm older than most of those folks, so I try to be realistic about what I can do. I'm faster than some of them on short segments up to 2-5 miles, but I can't maintain that effort so they're faster over the club ride distances of 26-50 miles.

The Kenyan method also emphasizes adaptability. If you're sick or feeling weaker one day, don't force yourself thinking it will get better. Take it easy, or just take the day off and rest. And on the good days, if your body is cooperating, push harder or longer than you'd planned. That's what I did Sunday. I'd missed Friday and Saturday due to neck pain. Sunday I intended only to ride about 20 miles after installing a shorter stem and making a few adjustments on the bike. But on the return trip home after about 22 miles I realized I felt great and just kept going. Finished with nearly 50 miles. But I was pretty tired Monday so I took the day off, although I might take an easy short ride to the grocery store this evening.

The Kenyan method also emphasizes plenty of rest and minimizing distractions. That's harder to do. I know I don't sleep enough, never have, and every few days it catches up with me. And I definitely need to turn off the TV after about 10 pm. I don't really watch it anyway, it's just on in the evening as background noise or in case something newsworthy is happening. I should also move my main computer out of my bedroom and just leave the Kindle near the bed for a little reading.
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Old 05-07-18, 08:06 PM
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Ramp it up. Goals are good. A good goal is to ride a little further each week. You'll probably benefit a lot from weight work in the gym. Big problem with folks my age (72) is losing muscle mass.

A good motto is "see hill, ride up it." You get stronger climbing, all out of proportion to the time and mileage involved. That said, once a week do rides with time in zones like you posted, rest of the week do rides mostly in zone 2. Weekly volume is really important to build strength and endurance. 10 hours a week is a good goal. Not much point in riding more than that unless you're competing.
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Old 05-08-18, 02:17 AM
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Old 05-08-18, 06:37 AM
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From everything I have read you can get the fitness you need quite easily by doing a handful of intermittent 30 to 1 minute sprints a couple of times a week, supplemented with a similar brief resistance weight program on off days. That leaves you free to ride for pleasure the rest of the time. Throw the heart monitor away, skip all the competitive milestones and ride at a pace and length that you enjoy. Of course, if what you most enjoy is pushing the limits, increasing the distance, etc, then hop on the pace line and Katie bar the door.
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Old 05-08-18, 07:28 AM
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Age isn't a barrier, or at least it isn't for some. I took a week off work in March and rode with a small group which included an 80 year old friend. 60 miles with hills and me pushing the pace a little and he looked great.
Another guy I know still rides his age in miles every year, not flat miles, either. This year that will be 83 miles.
Maybe these guys are outliers, but maybe you are ,too.
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Old 05-08-18, 08:09 AM
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I rode across the country unsupported with a small group of people. The oldest member turned 77 during the trip. When we finished in Bar Harbor, ME he started riding home to suburban Philadelphia. His wife finally said enough and picked him up in CT.
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Old 05-08-18, 09:29 AM
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Old people can do some amazing things. That said, I wouldn't worry about setting "the best you could possibly do" goals at this point. Just go ride.

If you want to go for longer rides, work your way up to it. Typical advice is to stretch your long rides 10% per week, to give yourself time to get in condition for gradually longer rides.

I'd also advise losing the HRM for a while. Practice pedaling faster than you think may be normal, so you don't stress your knees to the point of injury. Shift to a lower gear so you can spin the pedals quickly, the speed will be what it ends up being.

60 km? Sure, at 10% increase per week, that'll take you three months. Keep riding, make sure you're having fun. If you look at riding as work, it's going to be harder to keep going, and keeping going will be the key to getting better.
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Old 05-08-18, 09:33 AM
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You say you are in good shape for 73?
Then just ride your bikes.
Often and as far as you like.
What a goal at 73!

Take a biking vacation.

[email protected]_bc -- bc = British Columbia ???
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Old 05-08-18, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by qb_bc View Post
I could use help in setting up realistic goals for myself.

I am a 73 year old male, 5' 10". and 165 lbs. I have recently taken up cycling with the intent of keeping up my health and improving my cardio performance. I chose cycling because it is low impact on my knees and ankles. I have acquired two different bikes because of where I ride (at time on chip stone rail trails). My main rider is a carbon fibre road bike, and for the gravel, chip stone trails I use a hybrid.

I am not really worried about speed, but am trying to figure out what reasonable goals would be for distance and for heart beat, and over what time period I should be setting to reach these goals. For example, could I honestly ever expect to be able to do 60 km?

Unfortunately, heart rate is a factor because there is no where I can ride that does not involve elevation. My peak heart rate occurs when I am climbing. Fortunately I am in good health and have no restrictions from my MD.

Any comments on setting a realistic goal, training plan or general suggestions would be very welcome.

Jim
I too am 73. Just ride regularly and try to increase your mileage a little each week. After you get the base miles you can work on speed. Once you get into better cycling shape you may find your heart rate will improve and allow you to get up those hills with no problems. Good luck.
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Old 05-08-18, 10:27 AM
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Might I suggest you also post in the 65-85+ thread, you should get more relevant replies there. I’m nearing my 72nd birthday and have been riding and racing seriously since the early 1970s. I now just ride for health and fun, and the most important parameter for me is heart rate. I just modulate my effort so that my HR remains in the 100-130 bpm range. Anything lower provides little cardio benefit and anything higher provides no increased benefit and can be overly stressful. I have no interest in spending more than three hours in the saddle, so I rarely ride over forty miles. Also, about half of the time I ride a fixed gear track bike with a very low gear, so that I can maintain a smooth and high cadence. Riding a long distance should be regarded more as an achievement than a goal.
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Old 05-08-18, 11:43 AM
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Thank you for all of the replies. They are encouraging to me, especially those such as @berner and @canklecat that wrote about their own experiences. It certainly helps to know what to expect as I go forward.

It is hard to put a lot of information in a forum post, so here are a couple more specifics that apply to me and fall in with my objectives:
Wildwood - yes I am in BC, on central, east Vancouver Island. I can't go more than a km or two without encountering some elevation.

Heart rate monitor - on my rides I use the HRM simply to alarm when I exceed 150 bpm. This will be on a climb and it lets me decide whether to push through, to walk or to sit down and have a rest. Is this necessary? I don't know, but it is reassuring. I have hypotension (low blood pressure), and since having had surgery for a subdural hematoma I am cautious. The doctor has told me there is no problem with my pushing myself, but to listen to my body. The HRM helps me do that.

The 60 km number is just a number that gives me a 30 km radius around my home. I enjoy getting out and exploring, usually taking a camera and a lunch, spending the day. The bike is my answer as walking limits the area I explore, and while driving I don't see much of what I want to explore. Plus I get the physical benefits from exercise. I have been blessed with good health and I want to respect and honour that gift.

I am going to make notes for myself of all of your comments and suggestions so that I can re-read them along this journey.

Thank you all.

Jim
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Old 05-08-18, 12:55 PM
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I feel the same way about riding new terrain. It is one of my favorite things to do on a bike. I also feel the same way about the fine legacy of good genes passed on to me by ancestors. My grand mother and great grand mother both lived to over 100 y.o. It is not the absolute years that matter so much as the quality of life in our later years.
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Old 05-11-18, 02:31 PM
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I'm only 59 but I've been reading and re-reading Joe Friel's "cycling past 50" and "fast after 50" (titles might be wrong) since I was 45. I think they will help set some reasonable goals after helping you find out where you are starting from fitness wise. The data you shared from recent rides tell me you want to push yourself (even if you don't race). What fun you are going to have with STRAVA. Achieving PRs on a regular basis.
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Old 05-13-18, 07:34 AM
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Ah, Strava. Now there's a topic. I love the concept but I have to constantly guard against the trap of "faster segments" and higher average speeds. Thinking about that on your ride can definitely ruin a nice ride.
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Old 05-14-18, 08:44 AM
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Just as an idea to look into, see if there is a riding club/group near you and ride with them. I am 62 and in the group I ride with I am one of the babies. Most of the group are in their 70's and 80's. One of our riders who recently passed was 98 when he had to stop riding and he used to regularly kick my butt! So you can find someone close to your age and health level and try and keep up with them. They will also push you a bit so you can figure out what you can possibly do. Every person is different, but at least it will give you a clue about what you can do. At any age you can improve your health and strength, so don't be too afraid to push it a little at a time, as long as your doctor says it's OK.
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Old 05-14-18, 11:11 AM
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Goals

1. Cheat Death at every turn.
2. Have fun!
3. In a few short years the numbers will mean nothing, so why get weird over them?

In the words of our beloved founder: Smiles, not Miles.
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Old 05-14-18, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by qb_bc View Post
I could use help in setting up realistic goals for myself.

I am a 73 year old male, 5' 10". and 165 lbs. I have recently taken up cycling with the intent of keeping up my health and improving my cardio performance. I chose cycling because it is low impact on my knees and ankles. I have acquired two different bikes because of where I ride (at time on chip stone rail trails). My main rider is a carbon fibre road bike, and for the gravel, chip stone trails I use a hybrid..

On my most recent ride my numbers were distance 20 km, average speed 20 kmh, elevation gain 164m and (importantly) heart rate maximum159, average 136 bpm. According to Strava Z1=0%, Z2=11%, Z3=17%, Z4=60% and Zone 5=10%.

I am not really worried about speed, but am trying to figure out what reasonable goals would be for distance and for heart beat, and over what time period I should be setting to reach these goals. For example, could I honestly ever expect to be able to do 60 km?

Unfortunately, heart rate is a factor because there is no where I can ride that does not involve elevation. My peak heart rate occurs when I am climbing. Fortunately I am in good health and have no restrictions from my MD.

Any comments on setting a realistic goal, training plan or general suggestions would be very welcome.

Jim
If you have no restrictions from your MD, I'd say you have no restrictions other than comfort and fatigue. You say you've recently taken up riding. My advice is to just ride for this summer without regard to numbers. If you must have a goal, make it to increase your time in the saddle. Get comfortable with your equipment and your roads, figure out what works for you, and then after you have some miles under your belt, think about a goal for next year.
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Old 05-15-18, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
If you have no restrictions from your MD, I'd say you have no restrictions other than comfort and fatigue. You say you've recently taken up riding. My advice is to just ride for this summer without regard to numbers. If you must have a goal, make it to increase your time in the saddle. Get comfortable with your equipment and your roads, figure out what works for you, and then after you have some miles under your belt, think about a goal for next year.
the get use to it was last year. I am now trying to increase distance while keeping heart rate down. I am only using strata to track routes and match heart rate to locations. PRs are not a consideration😐

from comments received I an going to try to create a regular schedule, and try to increase my longer ride by about 5% per week.
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Old 05-16-18, 09:53 AM
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You've already gotten some great advice on this thread. The best is to lose the HRM and just ride. In the beginning it is about you and the bike. Getting use to the bike and bicycling. Figuring out what you like, and what you don't As well as, does this part hurt because it's a muscle doing something new, or does it hurt because the bike doesn't fit correctly? Now is the time to enjoy the bike and figure this stuff out. it cost you nothing in attaining any future goals. Using the bike as an exercise tool can come later. And, as you can see, you can come here and there are plenty of people who can help you get the most out of it!
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Old 05-16-18, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by qb_bc View Post
the get use to it was last year. I am now trying to increase distance while keeping heart rate down. I am only using strata to track routes and match heart rate to locations. PRs are not a consideration😐

from comments received I an going to try to create a regular schedule, and try to increase my longer ride by about 5% per week.
I started riding again at 50. Bought a used bike. The first week, I added an HRM, clipless pedals, and bike shoes. I remember making an ordered mental list after a few months of the things which had been most important to me as a new rider:
1) HRM
2) Shoes and pedals
3) Proper bike clothing
4) Saddle
5) Suitable on-bike nutrition
6) Good tires
7) the bike

I thought that was kind of interesting because of all the focus on The Bike, which doesn't particularly matter as long as one can reach the pedals. Plenty of time to mess with bike choice after one learns the basics.

You've been estimating your max HR. That's no good. You need to establish your lactate threshold HR and set your zones off that. Here's a good way to do that:
https://trainright.com/cts-field-tes...-calculations/
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