I’m 54, run my own business fitting bathrooms and have just entered an iron-distance race. But I’m finding it hard to train due to tiredness. A medical professional suggested I might be overtrained, but two rides, a swim, a run and yoga each week doesn’t seem much. Advice?
Let’s start with the proviso – I’m not a doctor (writes coach Joe Beer), unfortunately! However, I think you may want to look at several causes to your problem that many age-group triathletes encounter:
Even if you can train and race day-to-day there may still be significant health issues that need to be resolved. This may be simple short-term hormonal imbalances, nutritional deficiencies or disease.
I’ve recently help pioneer a blood profiling company (indurance.co.uk) that looks at several factors such as levels of testosterone, vitamin D, haemoglobin, etc. which may be below optimal for endurance athletes, yet not considered important enough to investigate by your GP. But some triathletes are already using it to manage their sporting lifestyle.
The energy expenditure of your physical job could be the equivalent of 4-6hrs training a week in a non-manual worker. Therefore you need to train less on the days you’re doing physical work and fit bigger sessions in on lighter/office-based days.
Physical workers are always harder to plan for, whereas elites (who don’t fit kitchens or lift bales of hay between sessions!) and office–based age-groupers are much easier to plan for.
You need to ensure you’re training in the right zone for sessions to be effective. If you go too hard when a steady session was planned this will just add to your physical work, and, as a ‘veteran’ athlete, this can overload your body.
In-session fuelling also needs to take into account your potential energy deficit from a physical job earlier that day. You may need to eat extra in the day when you plan to go on longer sessions after work.
You’ve certainly set yourself a very hard challenge of completing this event while balancing all the other areas of your life (adds former BTF coach of the year Andy Bullock).
As you’re aware, your training volume is not overly high. However, with the correct planning, appropriate recovery and maintaining good health, you should be able to successfully complete the race.
When you’re training on a small volume you need to make sure every bit counts. Assuming you have a background in completing mid- to long-distance races, it’s likely you have a good aerobic base to start you off, so you can get away with a lower training volume.
The balance you currently have between disciplines is good – the cycling element is the largest portion of the race and rightly takes up more of your training time during the week. If you’re able to increase the duration of one of these bike sessions this will create the backbone of your longer steady endurance training.
All being well your other bike session could be a high-intensity one, as a little bit of harder work can often give you a good hit of endorphins and make you stronger.
Maintaining the swim and the run per week along with the yoga for flexibility and strength is sensible, but it might be worth seeing if you can be clever with these sessions to generate a bit more training time.
Fitting in a short run to and from swim sessions and adding a short run off the bike will allow you to smartly increase volume as you move towards the race.
You might also find it useful to do the occasional longer brick session instead of your long bike ride, which will not only allow you to increase the frequency of your running during the week, but will also reflect the demands of such a tough and challenging event.
For lots more performance advice and drills head to our Training section