Training Update (end of July 2022)

July 12, 2022

The thing about tri training is everything moves slow. Your progression is slow. Your pace is slower than if you were just training for just one discipline. Your overall day to day movements have to be calculated: you can’t go too big on any given workout knowing there is another one coming at you.

Twenty years ago (God has it been that long?) when I raced mountain bikes I was told you need to train 4-6 days on the bike 3-6 hours at a time. I would do hill repeats, long rides alone in all types of New England weather, spin classes for sprints, group rides. Granted I was also 30 years old and had boundless energy and enthusiasm for this new sport of mountain bike racing.

At 51 things are a bit different. You have to train smarter, it’s a marathon not a sprint. You absolutely need a plan and you need to follow it 24/7. One night out drinking with the boys or not sleeping will wreck your whole day. You can’t push too hard, especially being a fledgling triathlete and every calorie is precious. I made this mistake a few weeks ago when I learned of a new trail that opened near the top of Park City Mountain Resort. I already did a swim that morning but figured if I paced myself and kept my heart rate low I could climb the 3000 or so feet to get to it. Three hours later I knew I was toast for the week. Despite riding at a lower pace and keeping my heart rate down I did too much and paid the price later.

Rest is most important: I need at least nine hours of sleep for proper testosterone building and refueling. Supplements like DHEA and all the vitamins and fish oils and ketones have to pitch in to keep up with the rigors of training at this age. Your body does not produce the chemicals it used to at 30.

Diet is just as important. In 2000 it was all about carbs and meat: Pasta and oatmeal and steak and eggs. Now it’s high natural fats, mostly vegan and clean. If I deter from this way of eating I suffer big time. My joints ache, I get foggy mentally, and i see the bloating on my body.

I hurt my left ankle last night. How, you ask? I did it sleeping. In my fucking sleep. My girlfriend tells me I move like an old crippled man after a five mile run or long ride. My knees pop, my neck hurts, my bad shoulder aches, I’m just plum tired. I catch my shadow or a reflection in someones window when I run by and to my dismay I sure as hell run like an old man. In my minds eye I see the Corey of youth: a big kick, long stride, proudly running at a seven minute pace. Instead in my reflection I see a man tip toeing his way forward, stumbling through a workout barely breaking nine minutes.

My biggest obstacle is the swim. My swim times are pathetic and move at a slow snails pace up the Strava 100 yard pace chart (but hey, they are moving in the right direction!). With taking on a huge endeavor like triathlons in your 50s you have to take solace in the small little gains: Not using fins and paddles all the time, not drowning, and not hanging on the wall and flip turns instead. With every 25 yards I feel a little bit more comfortable in the water. Granted, it comes in tiny little increments but patience is a virtue and is one of the positive things that happens with age.

I swim at the Fieldhouse in Park City and being at 7000 feet does make the workouts harder, but also in the next lane there is sometimes a pro athlete or former olympian and many are women half my age completely humbling me with their speed. I get “chicked” by women on runs and swims all the time. Women absolutely crush the long game, probably better than men in my observations. In ultra-running, for example, the pace evens out at super long distances between men and women. Some of the best 100 milers are women. My pride and ego doesn’t get hurt when I get passed, unlike some guys, but I do get surprised when it happens.

I have so much more to ponder on this journey. So many thoughts go through my head when training and more to come, but if you will excuse me I need to go shower before my post workout stench makes my dog leave the room.

Written by Corey Smaller Follow me on Instagram