Coaching Masters Athletes
In triathlon, a masters athlete is one who is aged 40 or older. As of the end of 2011, 39 percent of USAT annual members met this criterion. In fact, the largest single age group for both female and male USAT annual members is the 40 to 44 age group. Masters athletes may have more time and disposable income for racing than their younger counterparts. However, it doesn’t matter how hard we try to stay young, as we grow older there are certain undeniable physiological changes in our bodies. The good news is that proper training can delay or diminish these changes.
Focus for Masters
A masters athlete’s training focus should be on the quality of each training session combined with the opportunity to recover and rest adequately before the next session. Masters athletes should spend less time doing long, slow endurance workouts and more time preserving their speed with harder training and racing efforts. Triathletes 40 and older often have extensive racing and training experience, and they can use this knowledge to race and train more successfully.
Coaches can ask masters to talk through past races to find out what went well and to learn from mistakes. Masters athletes may also have the maturity to approach training and racing in the most healthy and balanced manner, and they may have more time and money to devote to their racing passions. These advantages mean that some endurance masters athletes can still set new personal bests well into their 50s. In short, the keys to success for masters are as follows:
＊ Strength train regularly.
＊ Plan adequate recovery.
＊ Be aware of the injury potential.
Strength Train Regularly
Sometimes in our late 20s, all adults begin to lose muscle. This yearly degenerative loss of 0.5 to 1 percent of skeletal muscle is called sarcopenia. Fortunately, exercise and strength training has been shown to slow the rate of degeneration (Taaffe 2006). This is crucial information for designing proper training for this special group of athletes. Masters athletes should regularly incorporate strength training into their training programs. Two or three strength sessions per week will help a masters athlete maintain strength, balance, and speed.
Plan Adequate Recovery
Masters athletes require more recovery time from training sessions. Athletes 40 and older need more rest days and rest weeks built into their training plans. Where 30-year-old athletes might be able to build their training for 3 weeks in a row before needing a rest week, masters athletes might need a rest week as early as after 1 week of training. Because of this increased need for recovery, master athletes should cut running days (because of their high impact) down to a minimum—often to just 3 days a week to allow for the balance of adaptation and recovery.
Be Aware of the Injury Potential
By the time an athlete has reached her 40s, she has probably experienced a wide range of injuries from training and racing. Some of these injuries may become chronic as the athlete ages through degeneration or long-term weakness. The coach needs to prescribe weekly strength and stretching training sessions derived from rehabilitation experts to address muscular imbalances and tightness. The coach must also optimize training volume to allow the masters athlete enough rest for adequate recovery between hard training sessions. Masters athletes generally do best on a lower training volume, with a higher percentage of time spent doing high-intensity or force and strength work.
here is also good news about masters and injury potential. Masters athletes are more likely to be wise about injuries. They have experienced enough of them to know when to stop a training session, take a rest day, or slow down the pace of a workout to avoid injury. If they become injured, they are more likely to know how to heal and have a pool of trusted resources to consult. Many masters remain more injury-free in their older years than when younger.
Training Considerations for Masters
Masters often have a large base of cumulative years of endurance training. They have adapted physiologically from all the years of steady biking, swimming, and running and have built their base. Therefore, they may need less base-building time than younger or less experienced athletes.
要想維持短跑能力，運動員必須持續進行高強度訓練和比賽。隨著年齡的增長，運動表現不佳的主要原因在於有氧代謝能力下降，乳酸閾速度和功率也隨之下降。雖然針對該問題的研究不多，但這樣看來如果中年運動員堅持參加重點訓練和高水平的比賽，那麼到了50多歲，他也還可以維持有氧代謝能力·乳酸閾的效率和運動能力(Trappe etal., 1996)。
If an athlete wants to keep his ability to race strongly at shorter distances, he must continue to do high-intensity workouts and races. The biggest contributor to age-related loss of performance may be loss of aerobic capacity (O2max) along with loss of speed and power at the lactate threshold. Although there is not much available research on the topic, it appears that master athletes can maintain their aerobic capacity, lactate threshold capacity, and economy until sometime in their 50s if they continue with focused training and racing at a high level (Trappe et al. 1996).
在對27名優秀的耐力運動員進行長達15年的跟蹤研究後發現，最活躍的運動員(定期參加短跑比賽的運動員)在15年中成功保持了有氧代謝能力，甚至有所提高(Marti & Howald, 1990)。相反，業餘運動員以每年1%的速度喪失有氧代謝能力; 不愛運動的人以每年1.6%的速度喪失有氧代謝能力。這樣看來，和比賽節奏類似的訓練和比賽能夠幫助逐漸年長的我們維持有氧代謝能力。另一項研究以2006年和2007年鐵人三項世界錦標賽高年齡組幾名頂尖運動員為研究對象，研究了他們逐漸下滑的運動表現(Lepers et al., 2010)。在這三項運動中，隨著年齡的增長，自行車運動表現得下降幅度最小; 其次是游泳; 跑步成績下降幅度最大。但最有趣的是，短跑運動員的有氧代謝能力即最大攝氧能力，下降的最少。鐵人三項運動員的成績下降幅度最大。這一發現似乎表明，運動員必須規劃高強度訓練和短距離比賽，以對抗隨年齡增長而自然下降的有氧代謝能力。
One study that followed 27 elite endurance athletes over 15 years found that the most active athletes (those who raced shorter races regularly) managed to maintain or even improve their aerobic capacities over the 15 years (Marti and Howald 1990). Conversely, recreational athletes tended to lose aerobic capacity at an average rate of 1 percent per year. Those that became sedentary lost 1.6 percent of their aerobic capacity per year. It appears that frequent race-paced efforts (anaerobic threshold) in training and races help sustain aerobic capacity as we age. Another study tracked the decreasing performance of top triathletes in older age groups at the Triathlon World Championships in 2006 and 2007 (Lepers et al. 2010). Of the three sports, cycling showed the least amount of decline as the age groups became older. Swimming was next, and running showed the greatest performance decline. But the most interesting finding was that the short-course athletes showed the least decline in aerobic capacity or O2max. Ironman-distance athletes showed the greatest declines. This finding seems to indicate that master athletes must include high-intensity training and short-course racing in their regimes to fight off the natural decrease in the aerobic capacity that comes with age.
An example of masters-specific high-intensity training is starting with a 1- to 3-month series of intervals done at lactate threshold or just below, building the total interval time per workout up to 20 to 40 minutes. For example, an early interval session might be 3 × 3:00 at a 1-hour race pace. Each week the intervals would increase in volume. An example of a late interval session would be 4 × 10:00 at a 1-hour race pace. These intervals could be translated to swim, bike, or run workouts—one for each discipline each week. If the masters athlete completes these with no trouble, she is ready for a series of aerobic-capacity intervals (O2max). Figure 2.8 shows a sample week of aerobic-capacity training for the late competitive phase of training, along with strength training workouts. After this aerobic capacity and strength phase, the athlete should do more and more race-simulation workouts, building toward race distances. For example, the masters athlete might do a 1-hour bike ride with intervals done at goal pace followed by a quick transition to a run done at goal pace.
Athletes are capable of achieving their best race performances after the age of 40. Training needs to address the maintenance of strength and speed rather than involve nothing but easy endurance efforts. Masters athletes can use their experience to make the most of their training journey. A successful training plan will result in healthy, strong athletes who maintain the performance or lessen declines well into their 50s.
Fro USA Triathlon