Dear Coach: I recently turned 60 and started doing triathlons three years ago. Do you have any special training and recovery guidelines for “mature” triathletes? Right now I take one recovery day a week and enjoy a week off after an event.
A: First, well-done on training and racing triathlons into your 60s! You are on the right track by having an off-day each week. A general rule of thumb is that each hard or long training session should be followed by either an active recovery or rest day. For older athletes, an extra easy or recovery/rest day may be required. This helps reduce the risk of injury and allows your body to benefit from the stress load of your longer and harder training efforts. The frequency of rest/recovery days is also dependent on your training volume and effort levels.
Many of the older athletes I work with utilize a 2:1 training periodization cycle. This means that they build and work hard for two weeks followed by a recovery or down week to allow the body to properly reap the benefits of the training load. Each of these training cycles should have a specific focus (base building, strength, endurance, speed, taper) and the workouts should be geared toward that focus.
Lastly, a week off after an event is a smart way to give your body a break from the stress of a race. While I support taking the week off from triathlon-specific activities, I recommend staying active to aid in recovery. Stretching, yoga and massage are three ways to help recover and get ready to begin your next training cycle.