Knowledge Level: Intermediate
One of the joys of cycling is that it’s genuinely a sport for all ages. From toddlers on their first balance bikes to club stalwarts riding every Sunday into their seventies and beyond, there’s no reason why it can’t be a lifelong pleasure. However, in order to get the most out of your cycling, it’s essential to take your age into consideration.
All the losses that you experienced in your 40’s will be magnified in your 50’s. Saying that, if you only come to cycling in your 50’s, you can still make progress.
Be aware of increased chances of injury. Keep moving. The body is meant to move. The more we move, the more muscle we keep and the easier it is to do things. Resistance training should be a real priority, even if you haven’t done any before. Also look to include regular mobility work and even yoga and Pilates.
Now is the time that you’ll really benefit from healthy and realistic training, racing and recovery habits. You’ve really got to listen to your body and just because you could do a particular training block 5-10 years ago, it doesn’t mean that it’s appropriate now. Keep healthy when you are not training, prioritise daily rest and recovery and look into deep breathing sessions and relaxation techniques.
Don’t just do steady miles, you’ll just get slower and slower. Keep hitting the intervals and, if you didn’t discover strength training in the last decade, don’t put it off any longer.
By this age, aches, pains and previous injuries may well be taking their toll, accumulating and you may need to make modifications to your bike set-up. You should definitely prioritise quality of training over quantity and ensure you’re allowing yourself adequate recovery. Pay attention to heart and blood pressure health, and regular checks with your GP are key, especially if you’re upping your training.
Keep an eye on your bone health, especially if cycling has been your main sport for a number of years. The lack of impact, although kind on your joints, can result in reduced bone density. Consult with your doctor if you have any concerns.
More cyclists are riding into the 60’s, 70’s and beyond. In 2017, 105 year old Robert Marchand set an hour record of 22.547km so, there’s really no excuse. If you’re starting to find the pace of the club run a bit much but still want the social aspect, consider an e-Bike to give you a bit of assistance.
If you’re wanting to stay competitive, focussing on 10-mile and 25-mile time trials for example can be better goals than long sportives or endurance rides. As, in your 40’s and 50’s, by continuing to include higher intensity intervals and efforts in your training, you can slow down your slowing down.
Make sure you include a range of off the bike activities and, even now, you’ll benefit massively from starting to include some strength training in your routine. If you already do it, carry on!