Recovery for Older Athletes

Thank you all good advice, I guess you have to find out what works best for you at this age. My problem is the 6 days a week doesn’t allow for real rest. I’m training for an IM and realize it takes lots of training and dedication but was hoping by removing an easy day that I could stay on track with the intensity of the program. I’ve allowed myself 10 months to train for the race. My question is what do I do with that easy day work out which consists of running and swimming as cycling is going well. Those missed workouts should I add more to distance/time for swim/run during the other workouts? So happy to see over 50 athlete’s working so hard and accomplishing huge goals. This is a great time of our life!!

If you haven’t already, I suggest you read Joe Friel’s “Fast After 50”. Lots of interesting and thought-provoking information in there, including the concept of the nine day training week (Google it).


It sounds like you are finding out that you are not able to tolerate this level of workload.

5 tough days is too much intensity. Most pros or elites don’t even put in this much intensity. You have to think more in terms of 2 days of intensity and 4 days of easier zone 1/2 work. I know that in triathlon lots of gains can be made working on swimming and running technique - those kinds of workouts can be done at low intensity.

And I mentioned it before but how big is your aerobic base? I was in your position last year - fatigued, trying to ride 5-7 days per week. A few days of intensity would kill me and then I’d be on the couch and needing to take an easy week. I found great success by dialing out almost all the intensity and doing 10-14 hours a week of long slow base miles. Through this period I did only one day of intensity - my Saturday group ride.

After 8 weeks of the above I was breaking all of my Strava PRs and performing better than ever on my Saturday group ride.

Anyway, you have 10 months. First build a gigantic base at low intensity. Bring in the sweet spot and threshold workouts in a few months. Toss in a short block of VO2 max. Rinse / repeat.

I’ve heard that Joe Friel’s triathlon book is good. I’d also recommend listening to That Triathlon Show podcast. I’m not even a triathlete and I love the show for the general training information.

In fact the Joe Friel episode was pretty good.

Get a podcast app and listen while you workout!

Like I tell my wife before her races- “Don’t get hurt, have fun, do well”. At our age, “Don’t get hurt” trumps everything. Listen to your body on effort and recovery. If 6 days per week is too much, then (wait for it) 6 days per week is too much. Don’t latch on to an arbitrary schedule.

If you haven’t already, I suggest you read Joe Friel’s “Fast After 50”. Lots of interesting and thought-provoking information in there, including the concept of the nine day training week (Google it).

I couldn’t agree with this one enough, I am not yet fifty, just a spry 46, but I read it with the idea I would learn some general info about performance as we age, and it’s been hugely beneficial to me. I have completely changed my mindset as to what I can do and continue to do over the next decade.

I have definitely felt the onset of delayed recovery, of course, and I do everything I can to enhance the bodies ability to streamline it. I’ve changed my eating habits, I’ve changed my recovery habits, I’ve changed my workload planning, and I know it will get worse, but I’m trying really hard to hang on to it.

You should check out Nutrient Timing too, I found almost immediate success with some of those principles.

good luck!

At 65, I set up SSBMV with every 3rd week being 3 zone 2 rides as recovery. Problem is, as I come up to the 3rd week, I feel real good, and think I might push the recovery out a week. Opinions welcome

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on that 3rd week don’t make it a full recovery week. First step to try is doing two zone 2 rides and then an intensity workout.

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I was going to 2 2hr and one 3 hr ride, Maybe I’ll throw in one SSB ride instead of one of the 2 hr rides.

I don’t feel that I got a lot out of Fast After 50. Friel likes strength training and HIIT. He poo poos long slow distance quite a bit. But, guess what, I did tons of LSD and polarized training and got a huge fitness boost. I still did one day of intensity in the form of a group ride.

Also 65 (66 in a few months). Used Plan Builder, but thinking a mod like the z1/2 recover weeks makes sense. I’ll have to do some searching here as I recall @mcneese.chad posting about modifying the base plans for more recovery aspects.

Would love to see “older athlete” variations as one of the factors in plan design vs having to manually tweak. I would think from a market POV it would meet a significant current (and even larger future) need.


Here is my alternate for Sweet Spot timing. The same concept could be applied to other 3:1 default timing, to get 2:1 timing. Just takes some juggling of weeks and a few workouts.

Thanks, Chad. You are quick! :smile:

I’ll give this a deeper look. It certainly makes sense when working when sequencing the standard SSB1 and SSB2 standard plans. What is more challenging (and goes beyond my pay grade) is understanding what tuning Plan Builder has already done with base plans to optimize toward specific events, and then trying to figure out the implications of further potential mods to accommodate additional recovery needs of older athletes.

That’s where the thought about additional criteria for Plan Builder comes in. Seems like my two options are a DIY approach to tweaking standards plan sections or using Plan Builder based on existing criteria and events. In both a user has to bring additional knowledge to the table or leverage the community here to go beyond the current capabilities of TR to design a more individually-based plan.


Yup, I like the concept and goals of PB, but it doesn’t address what I think works best for me in SSB at least. That new timing is working well for me in my 2nd year applying it.

I hope there will be more control and custom adjustments possible in the PB in the future. As it is now, its nice to set a basic goal, but it falls short in the manipulation moving forward from the “perfect” plan.


My intent is not to be rude in posting this, but honestly most coaches are now poo poo ing LSD. Not to say they are right, or that LSD is wrong, just that you can get equal or better improvements with less investment time and recovery wise with higher intensity shorter duration work.

If you enjoy three hour rides for the therapy (as I do) then by all means do it, but if your schedule doesn’t allow that AND some weight or resistance work, well, there are options,.

@mcneese.chad do you alter the standard build phase layout as well, or just leave the rest weeks where they are in the plan? First time through a TR plan and approaching the start of build the week after recovery week next week. Made it through SSBLVI/II with no issues, but did have a ‘extra’ recovery week in II due to travel over the holidays. FWIW age 56 , 20 years of mountain biking 3 times a week, but never done structured training. TIA and always appreciate you contributions here.

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I have used the default 3:1 timing for Build and plan to do so again this year.

However, I am open to adapting to a 2:1 pattern on the fly if I feel overly fatigued at the end of the 2nd week.

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Who are most coaches? Everybody I listen to, read and study loves volume and the long ride for building endurance and VO2max. Even Frank Overton’s sweet spot base contains tons of Z2 and he’s talking about 5 hour rides towards the end of the base phase.

In the end I guess it depends on what your goal is. If the goal is to be as fast as possible then you probably need to find 10-15+ hours to devote to training and you need to do the long rides. If you find a coach and tell them that you have 3 workouts and 5 hours max per week to devote then you will probably get SST and HIIT intervals and a weekend ride. You’ll get an initial big bump and then stagnate.

The OP said that she intends to do an Ironman. She’s got to put in the time and build the aerobic engine. No way around that.

The key to this is to not bury yourself to the point where you need multiple weeks of recovery.

2:1 or 3:1 isn’t going to be the difference in achieving really good fitness. It could very well be the difference in overtraining or too much fatigue and not completing workouts.

I think a “Week Tip” from Chad is often missed: For the MV and HV plans, feel free to make Sunday a longer Z2 ride. GREAT tip particularly for masters althetes or those where LV is not enough and MV may be too much.

A full 7 days (week) of recovery is probably not needed, particularly if doing 2:1 programming. I like to take a good two days off every couple weeks but don’t need 5 or 7. For those weeks I’ll cut the load and cut the intensity. Instead of 3-4 “good” days I will do 2 and fill in the rest with easier volume.

Do not be afraid to experiment with more recovery. It won’t kill you and it really won’t set you back. 2-3 good days a week, done consistently with some increase in TSS and IF, will build great fitness. Particularly if done well for long periods.

I am 70 and I am doing SSBLV. Lots of intensity but 4 days of rest. In the summer I was riding outside and doing mainly base and avoiding intensity. My FTP decreased with this. So, I have a plan for an 88 mile gran Fondo in August. Plan on doing low volume riding until then. This type of programs helped me to increase my FTP. There are low volume triathlon plans as well.


Just outdone in the age stakes by @DennyD :grin:

I’m 60 and have been doing the SSBLV plans. Generally I’ve been fine with them, making sure I rested properly and (@chad will be pleased with this) making sure I’ve got plenty of sleep - going to bed at the same time and getting 8hrs sleep - I take a while to get to sleep so I’m probably sleeping 11pm to 7am or thereabouts.

With the intensity of the indoor rides my outdoor rides have been very much Z1/Z2 territory, means I get to enjoy being outdoors while not overdoing things.

I don’t see any reason not to keep to the plans, I just have to be more aware of what’s happening to my body.

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