Top 10 advantages of being an older athlete.

I recently read that the average age of athletes participating in Ironman World Championships this year was 45 years. Don’t know how that happened but it seems there are many old bags like myself racing nowadays.

We all know what it was like being young and to recover fast as well as the disadvantages of getting older – but what about the positive things? What are the benefits of being a senior triathlete?

COW-MAN, The legend. Participating in every Ironman Hawaii between 1979 – 2006, officially or unofficially, the Cow-man was there. Even if the WTC tried to stop him – the locals loved him and supported his race. 

1.    Knowledge about your injuries.

I have a book written by two Swedish doctors that has been with me all over the world over the years, the book is about sports injuries. I have folded the corner of every page that describes an injury that I have had. So far I have folded about 50 pages and it’s great to go back to them when something starts hurting more than usual. This knowledge and experience is invaluable to have and impossible to gain without time (age).

 2.    Loss of muscle mass.

You will notice loss of muscle mass at around the age of 40. First at around 1% per year but accelerating as you get older. When you reach 70 the average (sedentary) person will have lost 26% of their muscle mass compared to when they were 25.  Great for us who used to be muscular – no need to carry all that extra weight around anymore – we become lean mean running machines!

 3.    You can afford a good physiotherapist.

If you have not “gone all out” and stayed in the wilderness during the years when you could build up some kind of economy – now you can afford to go to a good physiotherapist every week – you will need it…

4.    Knowing discomfort and ignoring it.

By +45 you have gotten used to experiencing aces, pains, shortness of breathe, tunnel vision – just part of your training. As my good friend Henrik Lundmark, an ultra distance mountain runner, rightfully calls it: “Sweat is just fat crying”.

5.    Decreased metabolism.

This is a bonus – you don’t have to eat as much as your metabolic rate is going down with age. Perfect on long rides/runs – no need to bring a back pocket buffet of bars, gels and other sticky crap that you see so many young guys carry.

6.    Increasing body fat.

As the body develops a slower metabolism with age it is likely that you will carry more fat, which is great fuel. Fat also help you to float better. Although, it can be a bit of a problem on the bike and run if you have too much of it….

7.    Dry and wrinkly skin.

Wrinkles are cool, they show that you have been around and make you look like an old saddlebag. You get them whether you like it or not. Or do a Berlusconi and spend you money on plastic surgery and hair implants.

8.    Absence of vanity.

At the age of +45 whom are you fooling? Even if you’re fit as a Greek god – you’re still old. Live with it. The girls will not be whistling after you – they rather run away from that “creepy fit grandpa”. Enjoy – you can shave your head and no one will care.

9.    Knowing that there are other things in life that matter more.

It’s easy to become completely absorbed by triathlon – I’ve been there and I’ve seen many people get obsessed as well. With age you gain some perspective and understand that it really doesn’t matter if you flunk a race or miss a training session as there are many more to come.

10. Reaping the benefit of 10,000 hours of training in each sport.

Several studies have shown that it takes 10,000hrs to become truly efficient in something. If your training volume is decent you can reach 10,000 hours in 10 years in one sport – but to reach this in all three sports will most likely take you well into your forties’.

So, to all you fellow senior citizens who bravely carry your tri-suite over your wrinkled and sun burnt skin – enjoy your vast experience and opportunity to become better with age, just as a bottle of really good wine!

Be proud that you are still shaking your junk and have not retired to the back porch with a blanket over your knees, eating peaches – even if all the young triathletes that you beat in races wish you had. 

Cheers, Salute, Prost!


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Stravaddiction – The highway to Mellanmjölk!

A friend of mine who is really passionate about our sport has now finally followed his call to become a full time coach. I think this is really good news for people who like to get coaching from someone that keeps updated on research (being a former researcher himself) works with tests, facts and analyses to create optimal individual programs.

During my first years of triathlon and as a new member of SPIF we once shared room on a training camp in Mallorca. Bernhard had one of the first heart rate monitors from Polar that you could export data from and being the scientist he is, he was going at that thing every night after training, exporting analyzing the data.  This was before most people had a laptop, Internet and way before people started making every workout public.

Then as now periodization and proper planning of your training of the year was important but in a way much easier than it is in today’s culture, where every session needs to be posted, every watt shared and every photogenic experience uploaded.

I picked up the logging concept from Bernhard’s professional approach and I have had great benefit of keeping track of my intensity levels in excel to later analyze performance and what worked best over the following years. Even if it was a tedious job – the training volume, intensity and frequency with following results are still valuable data for me to go back to and see what my body responded best on.

But now back to the point – Mellanmjölk.

When I got back into regular training, after many years of sporadic training, I first of all wanted to build a solid based of endurance and a foundation for intensity and speed work.  As I am interested in trying out new things I started to use Strava and quickly realize why my friends in Australia call each other “Stravaholics”. There is a daily race going on at Strava where you can become KOM on busy bike paths in the middle of the city (…) or compete with others on average speed, hours, elevation. You can even digitally dope your files, which tells you something about how important “on-line racing” is becoming for some individuals. 

For me Strava is ok as a logbook for high level overview – but I think it can be counterproductive to a well thought through training program – at least for those whom are too competitive to do a L1 recovery ride @25km/hr as this will ruin your Strava score.

I still update my Strava account with some of my training, but my main tool for analyzing my training and results is now polar flow. Here I can see time spent at different levels of intensity per week, month or year – something I used to have to do manually in the past. 

And this, my friend – brings me to the point of Mellanmjölk!

As my friend Bernhard is brilliant with interpretation of data and follows the latest research I asked him to take a look at my training overview on Polar Flow and being the brutally honest guy he is he said – “This looks like Mellanmjölk!”

Now for you whom have not yet Google translated Mellanmjölk I will explain what it is – it’s the milk that is between whole milk (>3-5% fat) and the non-fat milk (<0,2% fat).

In my “jolly happy to be back in motion” state of mind, my low intensity had started to creep up to L3 rather than L1-2 and my L4-5 session, even if they are limited during my base training, were getting to soft due to the large volume of L3 – The Mellanmjölk of training. 

If you are not aware of L1-5 and the importance of variation of training at different here is a link with a very simple explanation:

Everyone makes mistakes – the important thing is that you learn from them – even better is to learn from other peoples mistakes so you don’t have to do them yourself 😉

After so many years of training, coaching, racing – I did a rookie mistake! It proves that even the most experienced often needs a second opinion when it comes to themselves. 

Hope that this post makes you think about your periodization and intensity to get the most out of your training and racing.

Have fun and watch out for Mellanmjölk syndrome! 


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A tool to improve your swimming!

Never thought I would find something new in swimming – but I did!

A serious masters swimmer who usually swims at the same times as I do asked me to try out his hand paddles to see what I thought about them. I was reluctant as I’m a bit conservative with new “gadgets” but must say I am impressed.

They are quite amazing actually and I must recommend using those specially if you don’t have a 100% perfect stroke (or if you are tired of the rubber bands breaking).

The difference with normal paddles that are attached to your hand with rubber band is that you hold on to these ones only with you thumb (when they are out of the water) and in the water they basically force you to keep the correct angle during the different phases of the stroke (insertion, glide, capture, pull and push). If you don’t relax during this phase you will have a very sore thumb ;-).  

You can use them in all four strokes and as soon as you start to be sloppy and for example insert the hand into the water to early they will kind of fall off and remind you to keep a steady pressure against the water at all times.

Best of all – they are dirt cheap! I paid 199 SEK (approx. 20€) at

You can get them in 3 different sizes S, M, L the once on the pix above are L.

Happy swimming !

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Aerodynamic-superbike-drafting ?

10min into the ride at Ironman Mallorca, a few weeks back, I was passed by a peleton of 9-10 riders. At the back of the peleton was a fellow Swede who shouted – “Go Stockholmspolisen”. I was quite confused – I have never seen anybody cheating and cheering at the same time.

According to the rules – I fell back 10meter behind the Peleton and let them continue away. I tried to stay focused and positive and though to myself  – a lot of people came out of the water at the same time – people are doing this race individually and know the rules – this was a “one off”.

10minutes later the next peleton comes by… this time there is a Norwegian shouting “Go Magnus” – he is so close that he can read the name on my race number. Now I get pissed off. I fall back 10meters and keep looking at the Norwegian who is freewheeling at the back of the pack. I launch forward, pass the whole group informing them about the 10meter rule. No-one reacts to the fact that I am shouting to them – they just look away.

I push hard and stay 20meters ahead of the group until we come out on the flat and a slight headwind. They overtake me again using the advantage of working as a group.

I fall back, charge and again pass them this time I convey a more “direct message” in a language that for many would be considered explicit and perhaps even insulting (to say the least) – but interestingly enough no-one seams to understand what I am saying this time either.

Finally I see marshals on motorcycles and point at the peleton behind me – they make a sign to the group to “break up” and then drive away. The group remains and passes me again.

We do this 6 times until 80km into the race. At this point we hit the road going back towards Alcudia, my legs are fried from the intervals passing the group and we now have a long straight into the headwind. The peleton has grown even bigger and I am alone 20-30 meters behind. To my amazement the group is not breaking up even as they go into the city, it seems that they’re not ashamed of their obvious cheating not even the fact that the spectators will see them coming into the city as a pack.

Photo from last years Ironman Mallorca 2014 (not Tour de France!!) – sure hope these guys are proud of themselves when they cross the finish line.  

How can people look themselves in the mirror after a race like this? Can you enjoy a fast bike split and when you know that you have broken the rules? Can you argue convincingly to yourself  – “everyone else did it”, “I was not alone in the peleton”? Can you enjoy a qualification to Hawaii if you drafted and really did not earn the place?

In this race, for the first time in my life, my motivation, drive and passion sank like a stone. I was starting to think that perhaps the sport has changed and it’s not about a fair race against yourself and the clock anymore. Perhaps I am living in the past when there was pride riding it alone.

Perhaps the new ironmen plan their race well in a different way; get a good ride in the pack, take some risks at the first half – enjoy the shade and rest in the recovery area (also called “penalty box”….) if they get caught, they make sure to be more careful when the second half of the group ride.  I don’t know – personally I would get so embarrassed and humiliated if I ever had a single yellow card or a warning that I would probably quit the sport.

This finally brings me to the question: Why do people spend >8 000€ on super aerodynamic bikes, wheels and helmet when they are drafting? It would be safer for them if they used normal road bikes. That would also free up cash so that they could buy illegal performance enhancing drugs (if they are not already using that as well to cheat…) and really maximize their time?

My motivation to get the best bike on the market ARGON 18 E-118 was to get every possible advantage to be able to go as fast as possible using less energy against the wind- ALONE.  I’m really amazed with the development of bikes that has happened since I last raced in 1998 and the way the E-118 really cuts through the wind compared to the clunky bikes of the 90thies.    

Speaking to the Ironman Europe Managing Director, Paul Huddle after the race made me realize that when we raced, in the 90ties, races were much smaller and fewer. This obviously made it possible to get competitors spread out easier but also the “informal marshaling” was simpler – it was to a large degree the same guys racing in the handful of Ironman races across the world and we all knew if someone was a cheater and those who did got a reputation (not a positive one…)

For the future – I hope that Ironman Corporation will come up with a way to make the races fair. It would not take a rocket scientist to come up with a device that similar to the RFID chip around our ankle, can be mounted on the bike to monitor your proximity to other riders. If they do it smart they can even equip it with GPS so that you can follow riders remotely on the web – and see who are sitting in packs and who are fighting alone, like you are supposed to.

Until then – I will train harder on the swim to get further ahead of the packs and get back into a better bike shape that I have ever been. From now on I will only do races that are extremely hilly and windy where cheating wheel suckers have less of advantage. Hello again Lanzarote! – It seams that I’ll be coming back. I know I promised never to return (after the two IV’s after the finish 1997) all is forgotten, all is forgiven and at least the run is not up on the motorway anymore!


This is why I love Ironman Hawaii (at least back in my days)!  The Marshalls did hell of a good job – it was really an individual race! Perhaps that is why so many don’t have bike splits anywhere near their qualification times….

Stay honest!

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“Klubb saknas” (Not member of a club)

Every time I see this in the list of participants before a race or in the result list I feel sorry for people who have this note behind their name.

OK, Triathlon is an individual sport – but it’s so much more fun to be part of a club!

If you race honest you will spend a lot of time alone on the bike 😉 

When I joined in 1992 we didn’t really have a lot of club activities. We had 2-3 swim sessions per week with a coach a Christmas party (that was a blast!!!) and perhaps a spring training camp in Mallorca where we rode together.

When I re-joined SPIF in 2014 I was blown away by all the activity and arrangements that are now provided and all the fantastic work that so many participants put in to make the club a fun community to be part of. All the useful sessions that would fit any ones schedule (how about swim sessions 21:00-22:00….)

So I ask myself – why would anyone NOT want to be part of a club?

Is it because they feel that they just want to do one race / year and are not “advanced enough” to be part of a club? Not strong enough swimmer? Afraid to get dropped on the group rides? Not cool enough?

I have good news for you if you feel that way! No need to be afraid or ashamed! Come on down and join SPIF or join another local club and you will find that you will learn much more and faster and get to know people who are on the same level of learning as you and have much more fun than going solo the whole year!

See you at swim practice !

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Fire, Ready, Aim – Setting goals

There are different schools of thought with regards to setting goals. Some set achievable short-term goals to be able to celebrate each victory along the way and not overreach. Some aim really high to extend and push themselves beyond what is possible. Some do both.  

When I told family and friends that I intended to race Ironman again at 50, I could see the happiness and support in their eyes when they realized that I was going back to do something that I really love. 

When I told them that I was going to try to become faster than I was at the age of 32 – the happiness in many eyes turned into a glare that seemed to say “he has completely lost it”. 

I typically set my goals rather high, but have I lost it?

Perhaps, but I rather think that I have found it – again.

18 months ago, I decided that rather than to sit and hold on to the false sense of security at a corporate job, I started up my own company again and now work fewer hours per week to be able to spend more time with my family and train more.  Being an interim/ consultant is perfect for a performance junky like me. Get in – deliver results – get out.

This change in lifestyle for the past year has given me the possibility to rebuild a decent fitness base and soon it’s time to start with “the real” training again.

After the 18 years break from competing in triathlon, getting married, having 2 children, high pace corporate jobs on 3 different continents with too much work related travel associated with it; I think I’ve found my way back to the happiness you only get when you’re in physical motion.

The goal of my training is bigger than to just reach a certain time or personal best time. It’s also to never again take another break and to even further develop the apprechiation of  every training session in decades to come. But I have also set some measurable goals.

Goal definition:

Saying that I want to be “faster at 50 than at 32” gives some room for interpretation

In 1997 I had my best Ironman Hawaii race finishing 74th overall at 9hr 34 min. I also had my best Olympic non-drafting race finishing second overall at 1hr 59min in Chievres, Belgium.

To improve those results will be serious challenge at 50 – I might have to revise my goal to  “faster at 50+ than 32” and give myself a few years to get there…

Getting there:

The main areas that I will focus on and utilize to my advantage in the journey to improving my speed and performance at +50 are the following (note: not in order of importance as I can not judge that yet). 

1.     Improvements in materials: There has been a tremendous advancement in materials used in triathlon. By using the best materials and technology available I hope to gain a few minutes advantage over “my old self” with regards to performance. I will write about the materials that I try out and provide my view if the material has significant advantage compared to what we used in the past (if at all available in the Jurassic Period, when I used to race).

Version 2

(I had to smile coming out of the water – What an incredible difference with todays wetsuits! Comfortable, not restricting your movement, floating through the 3,850m IM Mallorca swim like a torpedo in 56min without even pushing it)       

2.     +10,000hr principle: Several studies of optimal performance, not only in sports but also arts and music, have shown that it takes 10,000hrs to become truly efficient in something. So far I ’ve put approximately 6,500-7,000hrs into triathlon. There is plenty of room to become more efficient as the 10k hours actually will be calculated for each sport…. With current yearly training volume I will reach 10k hours for the combined sport of triathlon in 5 years.

3.     More research and knowledge about training: Over the past 20 years some of the methods and thoughts about training we utilized in the past remain, but there has also emerged new research and conclusions that I will build into my training. In future blog-posts I will write about what worked for me and what didn’t. 

4.     Improved technic by consulting the best trainers: During my last attempt to become fast (96-98) I had the benefit of being coached by twice, top ten Ironman Hawaii finisher, Jean Moureau from Belgium. From one year to the next I improved my personal best with over an hour on the same course (IM Roth from 10:17 in 1995 to 09:12 in 1996). I will not be able to go back to the volume of those times unfortunately. I will need to become more efficient in all three sports and I will consult the best trainers/instructors to ensure that I don’t waste energy, time and resources.   

5.     “Nailing it” – The perfect race: So far I have started in 11 Ironman races and finished 10. Only one of them has been anywhere close to perfect race – IM Kona 1997. Perhaps the distance in itself and the time you spend doing it makes a “perfect race” impossible. There are so many things that can go wrong over the 226km that you are traveling – not to mention the 2,2600km that you have done the year leading up to the race in preparation and that either makes you extremely ready or injured or burnt out.… 

A goal is not really a goal if it’s too easy. A real goal should be so difficult that it is almost unattainable – ”aim for the stars, get to the treetops”. Just don’t forget to enjoy yourself on the way there; the goal is just a destination – it’s the journey that counts. 

Stay safe on the roads and enjoy your training!

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