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. Dont 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 its 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 dont 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 youre fit as a Greek god – youre 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.
Its easy to become completely absorbed by triathlon – Ive been there and Ive seen many people get obsessed as well. With age you gain some perspective and understand that it really doesnt 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!