Aging, Training, and Recovery

I'm not sure exactly when it happened. It wasn't too long ago, and it snuck up on me.  

Not long ago I could train, recover, train, repeat.  I could race frequently, and train hard almost year around. Now, I can't quite pack in the intensity and volume that I used to.

I look in the mirror and see that skewed version of me. We all do - what we see in the mirror is never 100% reality. To that point, I don't see the 45 year old that's now a coach, I see the 35 year old who used to race a lot, and race well. But when I go out and train, I'm reminded that I'm 45. I'm not saying that 45 is old.  It's not. And there are lots of individuals out there who are older than I am and are very gifted athletes. But physically I'm forced to deal with some changes that require a different approach to training.

I know what I used to be able to do in the pool, at the track, or on the bike. Now, the speed just isn't the same.  The recovery isn't the same. A hard workout, previously, was something I could bounce back from and be out training hard the next day. Not anymore.  It's frustrating. I need an extra day sometimes to rest and recover.

As we get older, the body stops being as resilient as it used to be. Intensity may have to change in our training. Recovery becomes even more important than it already is. As a coach, this is a reminder that understanding how an athlete recovers is massively important. Knowing what they can recover from is the key. How much intensity that can be incorporated into a workout, with proper recovery, and a correctly built out week (with easy days, and recovery days placed appropriately) are all things that need to be taken into consideration.

Priorities change too. Before I was in a job I wasn't 100% happy with - I dove into my training. Now, I love my job as a coach, and I'm in a more supportive role with my athletes.  I don't train as much as I used to, as time is a commodity that needs to be prioritized for my athletes and swim club. I'm now this impacts my ability to train as hard as I used to. And frequency of training has a lot to do with how the body adapts to training load and recovery.

As I said, some people bounce back better than others - everyone ages differently. You constantly have to adapt to the needs and abilities of the athlete as they change - physically, chronologically, and through life events. Speaking from personal experience, workouts that I was able to do last year require more recovery time this year. It's no different for the athletes that I coach.