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Getting Soft

Old 04-15-20, 11:36 PM
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downtube42
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Getting Soft

In the last 6 years a lot of crap has happened. Laid off, moved twice leaving behind my cycling group, put on some weight, diagnosed with hypertension and put on meds. I've kept up the randonneuring, finishing two more 1200s but it's clearly harder. On brevets, I've gone from a front-third finisher to a last-third finisher. October last year, just after finishing a tough 1000k, I fractured my neck in a bad crash, setting things way way back. Basically a six year downhill slide with an exclamation point.

I'm finding the recovery harder than expected. Not because of loss of fitness; it's the lack of willingness to suffer. Just 6 years ago at age 54, in 24 hours of focused effort I covered 400 miles. Tonight I went out and did hill repeats, and I'd say my intentions to lay down some rule #5 were not met due to general wussiness.

Getting slower with age is expected, and even to be embraced as yet another challenge. But this... basically I feel like I've gotten mentally soft, and that is creating an existential crisis.

wtf.
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Old 04-16-20, 01:15 AM
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I guess we have some things in common. My attitude has always been bent towards competition. Having been a college QB and SS.that's to be expected I suppose. On July 24th 2013 I crashed and broke my neck. After 8 days in the hospital I came home with C1 & C2 fused and limited ROM. I was 67 at the time. Shortly after that I started having issues with high BP. I was put on a Beta blocker and that almost killed me. I couldn't spin the pedals. I had to sleep every 6 hrs. And, I got depressed. A friend who is a Naturopathic Doctor suggested that I dump the meds and take 100% organic beet juice. That helped quite a bit and I later found out that professional athletes drink it as an energy booster. Then last year, after about 3 days of zero beet juice, I got up and took my BP. It was 170/110. Now I was concerned. But, rather than just resume the beet juice, I did some research. I was trying to see what in my diet and lifestyle might contribute to high BP. I settled on caffeine. I have been a HUGE coffee drinker. First I went to decaf and my BP dropped to 125/85. Then I experimented by taking my BP after zero coffee. Even lower. I think my low was 117/77. These days I limit my decaf as long as my BP is around 120/80. I have also managed to reign in my competitive juices except for a 7 mi. TT I do about twice a month. It's fairly flat but last year I managed a PB of 19.1 mph. If you haven't already I'd do some examination of diet and lifestyle. Good luck.
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Old 04-16-20, 07:58 AM
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I attribute my slower speeds and inability to suffer to my focus on riding primarily long slow distance. I thought that I was pushing it on solo rides and doing lots of climbing. A few weeks ago, I put new batteries in my HR monitor and realized that my perceived effort was fantasy. 4 or five weeks ago I did hill repeats--3@150 bpm and i was suffering. I was complaining out loud during the latter parts of each 10 minute effort. Then for a couple rides, did that same climb a single time at 160 and while it hurt, I did do it. Last week I did 3 @ 160 and it didn't feel any worse than the earlier 3 @ 150. Part of that is probably improved fitness and part of it is mental. I'll do my regular 25 mile loop today and try to keep my HR at 125-130. I'm pretty sure that when I was riding long and preparing for 200 events, all my rides were too easy and likely 90-110 bpm on the flats. Our doctors tell us that a 30 minute casual ride is enough. But not for us. Keep it up.
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Old 04-16-20, 08:38 AM
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I think, as we get older, we need to readjust our expectations away from external benchmarks and refocus on more intrinsic goals. At 56 I am more active now than I was in my 40's but there is also the reality that a 56 YO body will not have the recovery of a 20 or 30YO (how I still see myself internally). These days I focus on maintaining a regular routine of fitness, selecting physical challenges that appeal to me, and really work on diet and stress free lifestyle.

For example, one may think not being in the top third finish of a 1000km event may seem bad in comparison to earlier efforts but you are probably in the top 10% of your age bracket of people who could even complete one. If one remains focused on working to remain active in those activities, though not necessarily as competitive, this fitness within your age bracket will only increase as you age. Like a brevet, I am aiming at the long game in terms of ability. The key is to overcome the psychological pitfalls that creep in to say you are getting too old to be doing XYZ. Looking at past performance and feeling bad that you can't repeat them is one such mental trap.

Laird Hamilton (older big wave surfer) said a neat thing in an interview. Basically, it's not so much the body that gets old but the mind. It says "I'm too old for this" and then the body accepts and follows suit. Conversely, you can think the opposite but have to be skillful in adapting to the way the older body reacts to effort; mainly longer recovery time and a greater need to focus on diet, rest, stress.

Also, the most destructive thing for maintaining athletic performance is thinking we somehow now deserve comfort. Whenever I talk to others about activity the chief complaint and de motivator is the fear/rejection of discomfort. However, you can't go big without it. My philosophy is: there will be plenty of time to rest when I'm dead.

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Old 04-16-20, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
I think, as we get older, we need to readjust our expectations away from external benchmarks and refocus on more intrinsic goals. At 56 I am more active now than I was in my 40's but there is also the reality that a 56 YO body will not have the recovery of a 20 or 30YO (how I still see myself internally). These days I focus on maintaining a regular routine of fitness, selecting physical challenges that appeal to me, and really work on diet and stress free lifestyle.
Exactly. If I could do all the things the same way I did when I was 25, I'd still be 25. There's just no way that will happen now at 65. That's a 40 year difference. Try and show me something that hasn't lost something over 40 years. I remember training for my first Century at 25. I still live near those places and could recreate those rides if I wanted. Sure I want to, but they would kill me. I have a whole new set of goals and expectations and I'm perfectly fine with that.

If we all got faster and stronger as we aged you'd see a lot more 65 year old guys on the Olympic podium. Be happy with where you are and get out and ride.
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Old 04-16-20, 09:38 AM
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I wish I could still do the physical things that I did in my 20's but it's not realistic at 56. I don't push as hard as I used to during any exercise and I'm ok with that. I do still drive a 195 mph dragster though....
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Old 04-16-20, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Digger6255 View Post
I do still drive a 195 mph dragster though....
What class?
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Old 04-16-20, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by big john View Post
What class?
Top Dragster and I bracket race.
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Old 04-16-20, 10:08 AM
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Patience is the key. I don't have the ultra riding experience you do nor have i suffered the same setbacks but my riding, my speed, and my endurance dropped off a lot during my last 2 or 3 years on the job. It got to the point where I was pricing e-bikes and checking their range to see if I could do group rides with my friends. I also considered switching back to motorcycles.

Instead, I retired when I turned 65 and spent months riding 4 days per week and I actually started hanging on to the faster groups and sometimes I wasn't last. It takes time and patience. It's frustrating and even after seeing obvious gains sometimes I want to give up, at least give up keeping up with younger and/or fitter riders.
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Old 04-16-20, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Digger6255 View Post
Top Dragster and I bracket race.
Big block Chevy? What's your breakout time?
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Old 04-16-20, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by big john View Post
Big block Chevy? What's your breakout time?
Yes 632 ci all aluminum BBC with 1320 hp on motor. Dial in depends on numerous things, 1/4 mile or 1/8 mile weather etc. In Top Dragster I am usually dialed in the 6-90's for 1/4 mile. When I bracket race I slow it down a bit and dial 7.00's in the 1/4 and 4.40's for 1/8 mile races.
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Old 04-16-20, 10:31 AM
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Welcome to middle age. It really is a wake-up call for many.

Just keep riding some, it will come back to you... or not.

At almost 70yo, cycling is more important now than ever to me. But I don't ride faster or further. Saddle time with smiles over miles. Take some pics, entertain us. Ever pack a proper lunch for a longer ride?

You sound the competitive type - try the indoor smart trainers. Group rides and races, virtually all over the World. Less hassle, no roadside break-downs, etc.
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Old 04-16-20, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Digger6255 View Post
Yes 632 ci all aluminum BBC with 1320 hp on motor. Dial in depends on numerous things, 1/4 mile or 1/8 mile weather etc. In Top Dragster I am usually dialed in the 6-90's for 1/4 mile. When I bracket race I slow it down a bit and dial 7.00's in the 1/4 and 4.40's for 1/8 mile races.
6-90! Awesome. Sounds like it would be so much fun. I've been to the Winternationals here a few times and I'm amazed by the fuel cars but the pro stock cars are going faster than the fuel cars were when I was a kid. There was a strip called San Fernando Drag Strip in the 60s and my friends and I would ride our bike there on Sundays and we could watch for free from an overpass. The fuel cars were just starting to hit 200 in the 1/4 mile.
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Old 04-16-20, 01:46 PM
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I'm with downtube42 wtf?

I was having difficulty hanging my '85 Schwinn Cimarron on the upper bike rack in the garage and considered switching it with a lighter bike that currently rests on a lower rack. And then I htfu. I started adding a little lifting to my normal core strengthening sessions. I got soft but I'm not going to stay soft.
Of course, at our age (any age really), there can be accidents and distractions. If we perceive them as challenges and not excuses, we get harder and not softer.
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Old 04-16-20, 03:12 PM
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When I turned sixty (60) I started taking short cuts on group rides to keep contact with the younger riders. It kind of made me lose some of the impetus to train hard. I have since (seven years later) moved to the old folks state of Florida. Now I am more motivated than ever to train hard because there are lots of people my age here who stay fit and competitve.
Don't stop being competitive. Performance is quite relative to who you are up against. Find a group of riders your age, and enjoy.....you'll feel much better.
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Old 04-16-20, 03:31 PM
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Yeah. Yup. Mmm-hmmm. Same.
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Old 04-16-20, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
In the last 6 years a lot of crap has happened. Laid off, moved twice leaving behind my cycling group, put on some weight, diagnosed with hypertension and put on meds. I've kept up the randonneuring, finishing two more 1200s but it's clearly harder. On brevets, I've gone from a front-third finisher to a last-third finisher. October last year, just after finishing a tough 1000k, I fractured my neck in a bad crash, setting things way way back. Basically a six year downhill slide with an exclamation point.

I'm finding the recovery harder than expected. Not because of loss of fitness; it's the lack of willingness to suffer. Just 6 years ago at age 54, in 24 hours of focused effort I covered 400 miles. Tonight I went out and did hill repeats, and I'd say my intentions to lay down some rule #5 were not met due to general wussiness.

Getting slower with age is expected, and even to be embraced as yet another challenge. But this... basically I feel like I've gotten mentally soft, and that is creating an existential crisis.

wtf.
DT42, I'm going to be 70(hopefully) in July, a little broken neck bike crash in 2011, bi-lateral orchiectomy( look it up) in 2015 to begin my treatment for Gleason 10(look it up) Prostate Cancer, 141 miles last Tuesday and took until last night/this morning to find legs for another ride of 121 miles. I've got it easy compared to my PCa Brothers so my suggestion is to keep in mind that just one crank rotation at a time gets you places and ENJOY whatever you can do.
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Old 04-16-20, 09:06 PM
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Thanks everyone for the useful posts. I went out tonight for an easy spin to follow up last night's attempt at intervals, and it was quite enjoyable. I guess I'll back off the expectations a bit but keep up with some structured training.
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Old 04-18-20, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
Thanks everyone for the useful posts. I went out tonight for an easy spin to follow up last night's attempt at intervals, and it was quite enjoyable. I guess I'll back off the expectations a bit but keep up with some structured training.
I think the key thing is to be skillful about it. Remaining (relatively) competitive is possible as we age but requires a degree more dedication and calculation/scheduling. Recovery from fatigue and injury just takes longer.

What makes for a good older athlete is the continued internal drive required to work with those limitations and move forward. Others bump up against them and assume it means their time has come and gone, and stop. Or.. they mainly engage in sport for external rewards and when those decrease they are no longer as motivated.

I've always thought that being athletic doesn't require any particular base skill other than the ability to endure discomfort and fatigue. DOMS, heat/cold, exertion, boredom, bonks... some meet those experiences and quit to seek comfort. Others work through them and continue to develop. As we age you now add longer recovery intervals to the mix.

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Old 04-18-20, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
I think the key thing is to be skillful about it. Remaining (relatively) competitive is possible as we age but requires a degree more dedication and calculation/scheduling. Recovery from fatigue and injury just takes longer.

What makes for a good older athlete is the continued internal drive required to work with those limitations and move forward. Others bump up against them and assume it means their time has come and gone, and stop. Or.. they mainly engage in sport for external rewards and when those decrease they are no longer as motivated.

I've always thought that being athletic doesn't require any particular base skill other than the ability to endure discomfort and fatigue. DOMS, heat/cold, exertion, boredom, bonks... some meet those experiences and quit to seek comfort. Others work through them and continue to develop. As we age you now add longer recovery intervals to the mix.
I had an older cycling mentor who simply hung up his cleats when he could no longer ride with the recreational A group. I told myself I wouldn't be that guy... actually I can't be that guy because I was always with the B group, but you get the point. And I'm not lamenting the inevitable loss of athletic potential and performance. It's about the drive and willingness to suffer. Maybe it's just the impact of recovering slowly from immobilization.

I registered for a 1200k in August that was supposed to be my motivation. In my head I know that strategic suffering between now and then is essential to avoid intolerable suffering at the event, but it ain't working.

I'm just going to put my head down like it's a long headwind stretch, stop thinking, and grind it out.
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Old 04-18-20, 03:16 PM
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If getting mentally soft as you age makes you anxious or upset, you're probably not smoking enough pot.
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Old 04-18-20, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
In the last 6 years a lot of crap has happened. Laid off, moved twice leaving behind my cycling group, put on some weight, diagnosed with hypertension and put on meds. I've kept up the randonneuring, finishing two more 1200s but it's clearly harder. On brevets, I've gone from a front-third finisher to a last-third finisher. October last year, just after finishing a tough 1000k, I fractured my neck in a bad crash, setting things way way back. Basically a six year downhill slide with an exclamation point.

I'm finding the recovery harder than expected. Not because of loss of fitness; it's the lack of willingness to suffer. Just 6 years ago at age 54, in 24 hours of focused effort I covered 400 miles. Tonight I went out and did hill repeats, and I'd say my intentions to lay down some rule #5 were not met due to general wussiness.

Getting slower with age is expected, and even to be embraced as yet another challenge. But this... basically I feel like I've gotten mentally soft, and that is creating an existential crisis.

wtf.
Soft? Well I donít see you that way at all. Hardcore is more like it. Too hard on yourself! Not many people can do what you can. Iím coming back at 52 I have a about 750 gravel miles so far, Iím on mile 133 this week and Iím shot so today I rest. DUDE YOU ARE NOT SOFT.
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Old 04-19-20, 02:35 AM
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Always, the talk is of miles. I had an associate who was a keen racer, late 50's 20 years ago. "Get the miles in!" was his mantra. I never done that; I've always rode alone, sometimes encounter someone on the road for a natter. I always went out for an hour, two hours or 45 minutes over my favourite hilly course with 1 in 4s to contend with.
I preferred those and still do. With the state of the roads, the Gym seeemed the sensible option with the bike courses they run (I've mentioned them before) which also took on the task of motivating me.
Since it was shut it was back around the local roads again, over the hills.

It is harder. In the Gym you subconsciously work out your best power delivery options for what comes next. Your feet dance to the music, and recovery is short so you cheat on the loading. On the road, you tend not to. there's always the top of the hill; the harder you go, the faster it comes and you get out of breath in a way that just doesn't happen in the Gym.
I've enjoyed the fresh air, my roadbike, even the traffic; the enthusiasm's still there but for the bumps. I'm too old to do bumps in the road without a bit of cushioning, particularly the wrists in my case.
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Old 04-19-20, 11:31 AM
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I think a lot of the discussion that goes into these "I ain't what I used to be" laments is just a matter of perception. The fact is as we age, our bodies decline. That's just basic biology. At 72 y/o, I can't do what I did when I was 20 years younger without feeling it more and taking longer to recover. So what? I still love the feel of riding, pushing myself hard enough to see little improvements over time, but not so hard I miss the scenery or that lovely sound a good set of tubulars makes on a hard climb or in a tight corner on an enthusiastic descent. To me, it all depends on your perspective. I'm either a very average 50 y/o or I'm in the top 15% of what's expected for a septuagenarian. Either way, my body still responds to training. Just not as fast or as much. But it feels just a good as when I was a whole lot younger, and it makes me smile just as much now as it did then.
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Old 04-28-20, 04:08 AM
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The pride of achieving a goal through physical suffering is a form of enjoyment for some, but I have to think that one day, everyone will wake up and think to themselves; "what is fun about making myself hurt?"

It may be time to replace "How far do I want to go?" with "where would I like to go today?". As you get used to riding again, you can revisit your original goal, or decide that it's no longer the main goal for you.
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